Chicago Theatre Review

Chicago Theatre Review

Cirque Shanghai EXTREME at Navy Pier's Skyline Stage

July 13, 2011 Reviews Comments Off on Cirque Shanghai EXTREME at Navy Pier's Skyline Stage

Cirque Shanghai EXTREME at Navy Pier's Skyline Stage

Runs June 19-September 5


Cirque Shanghai takes each act one step further…or three

By Darcy Rose Coussens

Between its fantastic stunts, ornate costumes, and majestic music, Cirque Shanghai EXTREME has brought a real spectacle to Navy Pier. Everything in the show glitters and shimmers, and despite all of the risky endeavors, these performers never stop smiling. The show begins with Chinese dragons parading down the aisles and performers bounding onstage and into the air; it is merely a preview of what is to come, though!

I was impressed that the same performers rotate acts– they each have many specialties instead of just one. Even the tiniest little girl appears in several different acts, from contortion, to ladder balancing, to lyra (aerial rings suspended in the air). Many of the acts are beautiful, such as the silks. The performers fly gracefully and seemingly effortlessly, and the costumes are magnificent. Overall, the costumes in every act are incredibly detailed, right down to the glittery eyeshadow.

Some acts are funny, as well. During hat juggling, the performers wordlessly teach audience vol

unteers how to stretch, and then how to execute the most basic version of hat juggling, all while clapping enthusiastically to the beat. I think the audience had even more fun watching this than the volunteers did onstage. Even when the performers dropped a hat or two, they covered the mistake with such speed that I hardly noticed.

The show keeps a pretty fast pace between the different acts, all of which were very impressive. I have never been so enthralled watching roller-skating. Originally, I had thought one man balancing on a ladder was commendable, yet another climbed on top of him, and then the little girl topped them off! Something of this sort happens in every act: I would think they were finished, when they would top themselves yet again (and sometimes again…and again). Finally, the motorcycles. Cirque Shanghai sure likes their motorcycles. Performers ride them on the high wires above the audience, but that's really just a warm up to the finale, which I'll leave a surprise for you to marvel at properly.

All in all, this was more fun to watch than the Olympics or another sporting event. The stunts were excellent, but they were also presented gracefully and with fantastic flair. Cirque Shanghai EXTREME has landed a near-perfect balance between sport and art.


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