Who are our modern day superheroes? Where do you go if you want to see the human body pushed to extremes? What kind of performance combines the perfect blend of pure athleticism and artistic whimsy? It is all housed under the Big Top. It is the circus, of course.
I have finally done something I’ve been planning and looking forward to for 6 ½ years. That is how old my eldest daughter is. You know her as “Lady H”. We try to see a circus every couple of years for her birthday. We’ve seen “Big Apple”and “Ringling Bros.”, but I’ve been waiting for an opportunity, and for her to reach a maturity level to really appreciate the piéce de résistance of the circus world, Cirque Du Soliel.
Their current show is called “Dralion” which translates to “east meets west.” It is a combination of words — the dragon representing the east and the lion for the west.
Upon arriving to see the show at Philips Arena on Sat. Aug. 28th, there was a little snafu with our tickets. We were directed to the media entrance where we had to wait for the powers that be to iron out the wrinkle. It was a blessing in disguise. We were given a little tour of the inner workings of Philips arena, complete with performers in make-up and rehearsal clothes, the back stage area and their traveling kitchen. I think all of this might have been more exciting for Retired Performer Mama than child.
Upstairs, the house was set in a 3/4 round, more or less like a traditional circus. As the seats filled up, a large clown was warming up the crowd in gibberish… Italian style. He directed people to where they needed to be and chatted enthusiastically with them. A small clown with a squeaky voice joined him. He was a nervous chap who spent his time putting caution tape around random audience members. A third clown arrived with a really bad comb over. This guy was encumbered by a bowling ball stuck to his fingers.
This trifecta of funny guys dragged a poor unsuspecting man from the crowd. You could tell he was shy and didn’t want to be there. I found this irritating, because I would have given my writing hand to be up there. They made him read lines with a red nose on, stole his wallet, kidnapped him backstage and took his shirt off.
Right off the bat we know the show is an international delight. Four dancers represented four corners of the earth. There was a European ballerina trapeze artist in blue, representing the air. She worked with a giant blue ribbon hanging from the ceiling. At one point, a breath-taking flying duet materialized. Soon she wrapped herself up in a ribbon with a partner, holding on to each other while swinging in circles. This air dance revolved around a potential kiss.
An Indian dancer wearing green for water was the contortionists ring leader. She would move serpentine-like with elegantly place Mudras, while the others made bendy group shapes by counter balancing, supporting and climbing on each other. One section was devoted to a performer doing amazing splits and twists, upside down, on one arm about fifteen feet in the air.
A Chinese warrior was decked out in red for fire. His entourage was a troop of male acrobats and parade dragons and lions. The acrobats flipped and turned while holding and passing thirty foot poles.
Last and definitely not least, an African/Island dancer in brown depicted the earth elements. She travelled through the show with a Maori-like tribe of acrobats. At times they crawled or rolled on their bellies with skateboards, like lizards skittering across the space. They also jumped through stacked hoops with such precision barely missing one another, nearly knocking the whole cylindrical structure down.
In a traditional circus structure there is usually an everyman or woman character. Someone the audience can identify with, and this character generally goes through some kind of change throughout the show. In “Dralion” she was a pregnant elf.
Other major highlights were the Puck like juggler, who was the perfect modern dance/juggler hybrid, rolling on the floor as he tossed multiple balls and pins into the air. A trapeze artist worked with a hoop, dazzling us with her brute strength and daredevil moves. She even performed something similar to a Paso Doble with the Asian warrior. Finally, to end the show, the clowns came out in sloppy costumes making fun of the other performers. Oh…and there is a twist…I won’t ruin it for you…but there is a mysterious fourth clown.
The show at Phillips Arena is over, but if you missed it, don’t fret. They will also be performing this week in Duluth from August 31st to September 4th so hurry up and get your tickets. Going to see Cirque du Soliel live is something everyone has to do once in their life. If you have to, put it on your Bucket List. “Dralion” will not disappoint.