If you’re looking for impossible contortions made possible, huge hollow globes filled with zooming motorcycles, a human hamster wheel and drum beats that go on for days, have we got the thing for you. No, it’s not the latest club endorsed by Stefon, it’s actually the very family friendly performance by Cirque Shanghai appearing at Navy Pier they are calling Dragon’s Thunder.
We took in a performance last week, and while we loathe anything that requires a trip to Chicago’s biggest tourist trap, Cirque Shanghai allowed us to lose ourselves in the show long enough that our surroundings melted away. The 36 person troupe is set up on the canopied Skyline Stage and the day we went the crowd of families filled many of the seats in expectation of a spectacle. And while Cirque Shanghai isn’t full of high class abstractions like a certain other Cirque we’ve seen, it was certainly full of spectacle.
There were acts that felt very of the new, like the 5-person “Globe Of Death” featuring multiple motorcyclists abusing the laws of gravity within a huge metal sphere. But we were most entranced by some of the more traditional fare. The show opens with a number of large group performances but its the middle point where we found ourselves consistently on the edge of our seat, mouths agape. “The Shoulder Ballet,” the “Chinese Flex Bar,” and the “Pas De Deux Contortion” all highlighted athletes with incredible control and contortions and maneuvers that fully bent the mind. Once you see what the human form is capable of you can’t help but feel your own stretching routine isn’t doing even 1% of the job it should be doing. Even the comedy bits of the show, and there is one particularly funny performer who brings one unsuspecting audience member onstage to help him balance an alarming number of objects on top of his head, works just as hard highlighting the group’s acrobatic skills as it does working the audience for a laugh.
If you’ve got kids, or family coming into town, or just want to take in some lighthearted fun that will still make you ooh and ahh all the way through, then navigating Navy Pier is worth it for catching Cirque Shanhai while they’re in town.
(This article was originally printed in the Chicagoist. Click Here to read the original article.)