Cirque Shanghai 2010- Swinging Pole Climb

Cirque Shanghai Baixi—The Perfect Holiday Treat

Cirque Shanghai 2010- Swinging Pole Climb

With circus performers from China and a Director/Choreographer from Las Vegas, this terrific, intimate (small theater, no effects) spectacular offers the best of both worlds. Brightly costumed performers run down the aisles trailing large silk flags, followed by classic, celebratory flame-colored Chinese dragons who manage somehow to raise up on their hind legs (one winks!) These join an onstage troop in theatrical warrior garb synchronizing movement with long sabers, a central masked figure who looks like something out of the Peking opera lowered from aloft, a woman on a unicycle literally peddling atop a rotating parasol carried across the stage, acrobats whirling through large suspended rings, a chorus of women with giant fans…get the picture? All in front of a glittering backdrop of lights/stars and accompanied by a lively, effective marriage of Asian and Western electronic music. And this is just the extravagant opening!

There are climbing monkey-like acrobatics on ropes dropped down from the “ceiling”-what these men do without footholds!, graceful contortionists with exaggeratedly long gold fingernails who assume tableaux vivant or slip/slide in and out of red metal tubes that would firmly wedge themselves at most of our hips, a trio who balance on one another’s shoulders at the top of an unsecured ladder, roller skaters and acrobatic bicyclists… A ballerina in toe shoes does arabesques en pointe on her partner’s shoulder and head, a girl balances on one hand at the peak of a pile of leg-to-leg chairs reaching over thirty feet to the stage height, men leap and tumble through raised gold hoops…one performer runs around the inside of what appears to be an enormous hamster wheel while his partner runs around the outside of a similar wheel at the opposite end of an enormous revolving figure-eight contraption– see image!

With precise, often synchronistic movement, boundless energy and attractive chorography (including abrupt kung-fu like moves), the company provides a continuous feast for the eyes, ears, and imagination. Female performers smile, men appear focused and virile. Physical agility and control is astonishing. Children and adults alike are thoroughly captivated. Only a couple of in-one clown parentheses (involving audience volunteers) while equipment is changed creates a lull. These are the single less than effective aspects of a beautifully put together show. I would suggest using the time for bathroom breaks if necessary.

Director and Choreographer Miao Miao Chen should be put in charge of the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. Hers is superbly high craft. Costumes by Hui Ling Huang are the best I’ve seen at any circus; brilliant, glittery-but not garish, classically influenced but unique, varied, but with a single overview.

Every aspect of Boon Casey’s Full Tilt Lighting Design is wonderful and effective, from changing backdrop to floor patterns, to directed spotlights. Lucas Bonewits Sound Direction and Jian Min Huag’s Music Editing is completely symbiotic; supportive, appropriate to each act, and fun.

Go! Take any kids you can find. Heck, take an afternoon off and indulge yourselves.

Cirque Shanghai Baixi
Director & Choreographer Miao Miao Chen
The New Victory Theater
Through January 1, 2012

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