Cirque Shanghai ‘Year of the Dragon’ Ups The Anti…Again

There seems to be some sort of metamorphosis that has occurred with this year’s installation of Cirque Shanghai’s ‘The Year of the Dragon’.  More polished with less fluff, Cirque Shanghai takes its place among the big boys of the ever growing circus world.

Cirque Shanghai has made itself a destination show for many locals and tourists alike since its premiere at the Pepsi Tent at Navy Pier  seven years ago.  Some years better than others, always though with a since that other productions that contain the name ‘Cirque’ may have an edge.  Well, not this year.  ‘Year of the Dragon’ proves the Cirque Shanghai can play with any of its contemporaries. 

Director Miao Mio Chen, who is a second generation performer, guts the acts down to their most athletic core with superlative results.  Each act, be it the males or females it focused on the art of cirque.  Breath, body control, trust and majestic movement all convene into harrowing work.

The opening number is still a beautiful piece filled with bright cultural colors.  From there, the evening evolves, usually rotating between male and female acts. Most of these acts have been performed at the prior Cirque Shanghai shows but never to this level of precision.  More deference has been given to the artists/athletes which lets their personalities shine though.  More than ever, the audience is allowed into their world of discipline and respect.

Fans of prior shows will see their favorites, including ‘Hoop Diving’, ‘Silks’, ‘Group Chair Stack’ and ‘Big Bike’.  Moreover, the participants of acts like ‘Wheel of Destiny’ and the daredevil motorcycle group Imperial Thunder performing in the ‘Globe of Death’ add another layer of nail biting angst that had the audience sitting in the edge of their seats.

This family friendly show (financially as well) is one of the best summer events Chicago has to offer.  Over the years a mutual respect has formed between this troupe and the city that houses them for just over three of the hottest, humid months on the calendar.   Cirque Shanghai is a cross-cultural entertainment that embraces everything that is good about Chicago.

Cirque Shanghai: Year of the Dragon runs through September 2, 2012 at the Pepsi Skyline Stage at Navy Pier.  Tickets are $15.50-$29.50 and are available by calling 800-745-3000 or visiting www.ticketmaster.com/shanghai.  Discounted tickets for groups of 10 or more are available by calling GroupTix at 773.327.3778 or visiting www.grouptix.com