Once a bullying victim, Yang Yuan-ching (楊元慶) has overcome his past and is now confident enough to captivate crowds that enjoy his yo-yo performances on the street or at private parties.
Yang, a 22-year-old drama major at a college in Taipei, began participating in and winning yo-yo competitions at the age of 16, including capturing the 2007 Taiwan Yo-Yo Contest title.
He was also selected as the most popular street performer in Taipei in 2009 and named one of the nation’s top 10 street performers a year later.
However, those accomplishments only came after Yang overcame a past dating back to his junior-high school days, when he was so fascinated with yo-yos and spent so much time trying to master the simple toy that he attracted the attention of school bullies.
“They yelled at me, shouting: ‘Can you make a living with that?’” Yang said.
He said the bullies threatend him with brooms.
He was so scared that he had to practice in a corner where people would not notice him during the 10-minute breaks between classes, he said.
Despite the threats, Yang did not give up on his dream to “make a living” yo-yoing, practicing so much that his parents told him to stop wasting time with the yo-yo when he was supposed to be preparing for his college entrance exams.
He applied to the drama department at National Taiwan University of Arts, hoping to learn the performance skills needed to add style to his yo-yo performances.
At the college interview, when asked to devise a skit to introduce a new laptop computer, Yang first worked his yo-yo at a slow speed to illustrate the efficiency of an outdated laptop before showing off faster moves to symbolize the latest computers, he said.
Yang, one of the street performers at the Shanghai World Expo and the Taipei International Flora Expo, said he needed to hone his skills before he could work as a global street performer.
“I want to make the world pay attention to Taiwan. I want to become the next pride of Taiwan from Tainan after Wang Chien-ming (王建民), Ang Lee (李安), Wei Te-sheng (魏德聖) and Chen Hsing-he [陳星合, a dancer with Cirque du Soleil],” he said on his blog.