ACROBAT , originally a rope-dancer; the word is now used generally to cover professional performers on the trapeze, etc., contortionists, balancers and tumblers. Evidence exists that there were very skilful performers on the tight-rope (funambuli) among the ancient Romans. Modern rope-walkers (e.g. Blondin) or wire-dancers generally use a pole, loaded at the ends, or some such assistance in balancing, and by shifting this are enabled to maintain, or readily to recover, their equilibrium.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)