by Danielle Thierry, Burlington Writers Workshop
Review of Golden Dragon Acrobats’ “Cirque Ziva” on Wednesday, March 5.
“No…” gasped the man behind me. I could almost see him smiling yet cringing with a mix of wonder and genuine concern. “What?” I found myself blurt out (and I am not normally a very vocal audience member) as three women tossed two other women to each other with their feet, as those women were balancing parasols on their toes.
This was not a show for silent appreciation or well-timed applause. It was a show for celebrating and for being so blown away that people can actually do these things you just can’t help but express it out loud.
Perhaps the most precious—and entertaining—utterances for me were those of my four-year-old son who sat next to me, practically climbing out of the little booster seat the Flynn has on hand for their smallest patrons. As the first note of music struck and the curtain opened on acrobats in bright suits rolling around the stage in huge, neon hoops, I heard a sharp intake of breath as a little hand grabbed mine. “Are those the dragons mommy?” he asked.
For the rest of the show, he waivered from absolute amazement to the kind of unflinching self confidence that only a four-year-old boy can have. “I can do that,” he whispered in my ear as we watched the man on stage balance on a board set on a rolling pin. “But I couldn’t do that,” he then admitted in a gasp as the man flipped four bowls, a cup, and then a spoon onto his head while rocking on the board. “I can ride a bike,” he regained his self-righteousness at the end of the show when a male performer rode onto the stage. Then he looked up and shrugged to concede the performers’ win as nine more people made their way onto the same bike while holding golden fans.
When it came to the man who balanced on one hand atop six chairs set on a tall metal stand—his feet nearly touching the ceiling—he didn’t even try to compare his own feats of strength. He just stared in awe…while his mother gripped the arm of the seat and silently answered “No” when the performer tauntingly asked the audience “One more?”
Each act was brilliant—and each one managed to go just beyond what you thought was possible. Like the woman who balanced what looked at first like a little beaded glass lamp on her foot while contorting her body and spinning around every which way, then added another, and another, and another piece until she was balancing one on each foot, each hand, and her head. As if that weren’t enough, once she was through, she showed the audience that these were not little lamps at all…they were tiered trays with several individual glasses on each. Then she poured out their contents to reveal that the glasses were full.
At the show’s foundation was brilliant choreography, costuming, and music selection. This is what took it beyond even an astonishing collection of acrobatic feats. The well-paced rhythm of the show took the audience on an adventure of sorts, from the opening Day-Glo feel of a night club or 90’s rave to the mystical feel of ancient China to a playful fiesta feel as performers juggled small sombrero-like hats. There was daring. There was intrigue. There was fun. And above all, there was an attention to perfection and detail that for most of us is hardly conceivable let alone attainable.
When it comes down to it, I think my son may have summed it up best. “These people really know what they’re doing,” he whispered knowingly as five performers bent in unimaginable ways in a human pyramid. Yes, son. Yes, they do.