WHILE wheels had long been used to facilitate motion, few have ever been spun around in the way Taiwanese acrobat Isaac Hou does.
Making the circular implement an extension of himself, he excites audiences around the world by executing gyroscopic rolls, spins and flips with consummate ease and grace.
It always earns him thunderous applause, and his maiden performance in Penang, held in Gurney Plaza in conjunction with the George Town Festival 2015, was no exception.
The large crowd cheered his fluid, awe-inspiring and at times dizzying role as the hub and spokes of a Cyr wheel throughout the 20-minute, one-man show.
“There was a mutual connection with the audience, and it felt good," Hou noted after the recent event at the mall's central atrium.
The 35-year-old was born and raised in America, and lived in Europe for a while after finishing high school before relocating to his parents' native Taiwan at the turn of the millennium.
He then started doing kungfu and gymnastics, and eventually adapted their associated physical movements into artistic performances.
Hou was drawn to the Cyr wheel, a large metal ring popularised by Canadian performer Daniel Cyr, after seeing him in a show and feeling a connection to his character.
“There were many props I could choose, but this one just spoke to me.
“I loved its simplicity, and its continuous, unending curve also symbolised hope.
“It's a simple kind of joy, and when I'm doing it, nothing else worries me," he added.
Hou spent years refining his routines and pushing the limits.Naturally, that meant many painful falls along the way.
But each time he got back up and tried again. And now, despite regularly being inverted or rolling end on end, he hardly gets dizzy anymore.
“Dizziness is caused by a discrepancy in what your eyes see, and what your inner ears, which regulates balance, feel.
“Over time I've got used to having my head in certain positions, and overcame it," said Hou, who also performed a crystal ball juggling routine.
Besides being a master of those, Hou, who has thus far performed in over 30 countries, is equally adept at rope walking and playing with fire.
“Earlier on in my career I was interested in executing stunts that were difficult to accomplish.
“But now I try to keep things simple. When I'm in tune with the music and aware of the space, I can better connect with audiences and heighten my performance," he added.
In conjunction with National Day, the mall is also having a Festivals of Malaysia Exhibition by Keith Hockton, which is ongoing until Sept 21.
It features large images of the country's various celebrations, suspended in mid-air at the central atrium.
Other photographers who contributed are Cheryl Hoffmann, Yaman Ibrahim, Luke Chua Tze Kah, Sean Liew Hong Hooi and Howard Tan.