Monday, June 4, 2012

Cirque Shanghai: Year of the Dragon Fires Up Navy Pier for the Summer #review #liveshowphotos

Enter the year of the Dragon, 2012.   What better way to celebrate than with Chi-town's favorite Chinese circus, Cirque Shanghai.   ChiIL Mama caught opening night, and the whole family had a blast.   We welcome this circus' annual summer residency at Navy Pier and eagerly anticipate it. 

For the price and the frequency of shows, Cirque Shanghai is hard to beat.    They play Navy Pier all summer, making this an easy, entertaining option for visiting friends and relatives.

“Cirque Shanghai: Year of the Dragon” will perform May 24 – Sept. 3, with regular run performances as follows:

Wednesday at 2, 6 and 8 p.m. 
Thursday at 2 and 8 p.m. 
Friday at 2, 7 and 9 p.m. 
Saturday at 2, 6 and 8 p.m.
Sunday at 2 and 4 p.m. 

There will be additional performances Tuesday, July 3 at 2 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 2 at 8 p.m. and Monday, Sept. 3 (Labor Day) at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Tickets are $15.50 - $29.50 and are available by calling 800-745-3000 or visiting Ticket Master here. Discounted tickets for groups of 10 or more are available by calling GroupTix at 773.327.3778 or visiting GroupTixs website here.

Our whole family loves to watch people push the boundaries with circus arts 

and we've NEVER seen someone unicycle on a parasol,

fit so many girls on one bike, 

or flip so many simultaneous pots on their head from a rolla bolla board!

The new horizontal configuration of the hoop diving was sweet, too. 

The motorcycle wire tricks are gone this year, but the Globe of Doom with 5 bikers in a metal globe is always breathtakingly impressive, even though we've seen it in past years with Cirque Shanghai and with Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus.   

We've seen it at Ringling Brothers, but the metal Wheel of Destiny was a new addition for Cirque Shanghai, and provided quite a few gasps, as a blindfolded/hooded performer nearly plunged to the stage below. 

He nearly bit it again during the jump rope routine, 

which I first thought was intentional, to mess with the audience and freak us out.  On further discussion we agreed that maybe his blonde partner (who had less taxing tricks) was walking a bit too fast and threw off his timing.   Thankfully he hung in there!

My kids adore circus arts and have become quite the critics after seeing world class acts from Cirque du Soleil's Ovo and Quidam, Ringling Brothers, Cirque Eloize, Zoppe Family Circus, George Orange, New York's Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, and local favs El Circo Cheapo, Aloft, Midnight Circus, The Actor's Gymnasium and more!   Our kids are also taking circus arts classes from local gem, CircEsteem, where they're learning juggling, unicycle, silks, trapeze, lyra, pyramids, Spanish Web, Chinese Pole, acro, and more.   They've auditioned for and been invited onto the pre-team and hone their circus skills 3 times a week.   So, they're harder to impress than the average 9 & 11 year old off the street.

When the kids saw Cirque Shanghai's 7 ball bounce juggling act, they rightfully noted, "That was pretty cool, and he did juggle up stairs which was impressive, but our friend Will can do 7 ball bounce juggling and he's still in high school, and we just saw it in our own spring CircEsteem show.   They did envy and want a pair of his cool, juggling pocket pants, though!   

They were likewise nonplussed by the silks and lyra, diablo, and even the contortion and acro acts.   Those elicited a series of "My friends and/or I can do that....and that....and most of that act too," from the kids.   Though admittedly their friends are way more flexible and adept at circus arts than the average bear.   As long as they don't want to master the Wheel of Destiny or Globe of Death next....!!

Nonetheless, they thoroughly enjoyed the show and thought that kids of all ages and adults would dig it, whether they're well schooled in circus arts themselves, are avid fans, or have never seen anything like it.   In addition to the super stars in Globe of Death, 

and Wheel of Destiny, 

the slackwire unicycle, 

spring board, 

creative foot juggling, 

and chair stacking acts were particularly fun.


Both kids were entranced with the 5 bikers, simultaneously circling the metal globe and Sagezilla, in particular, loved that one was a long haired girl!   

She's more interested in being strong than cute.   She's all about grrrl power and nontraditional roles, and she was elated that the biker girl gave her a high five on the way up the aisle at the close of the show. 


Come celebrate the Year of the Dragon in style with Cirque Shanghai!  Here are further official details:


Cirque Shanghai returns to Chicago’s Navy Pier this summer with a magnificent new show “Cirque Shanghai: Year of the Dragon”.   The production will run now through September 3, 2012 (Labor Day), rain or shine, at the Navy Pier® Pepsi® Skyline Stage, the 1,500-seat, canopied, open-air theater on Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave. 

“Cirque Shanghai: Year of the Dragon” is a spectacle for audiences of all ages, featuring performers direct from China who are leaders in their craft of tumbling, juggling, balancing and more. This year’s production features an incredible line up of awe- inspiring acts, including favorites such as Bike Balance and Hoop Diving, as well as an all-new Group Chair Stack, Teeterboard act and the Wheel of Death!

China’s finest daredevil motorcycle troupe, “Imperial Thunder,returns with not two, not four, but five motorcyclists riding at break-neck speed within a steel globe – more than ever before in this death-defying feat.

Audiences and critics alike rave about Cirque Shanghai. The Chicago Tribune hails the production to be a 

“beguiling, sophisticated and contemporary 75-minute show, replete with some bravura acrobatics and infused with fabric-strewn visuals,” 

and the Chicago Sun-Times raves “Cirque Shanghai has been an especially bright spot on Navy Pier...bringing young, talented acrobatic troupes and first-rate production values to the canopied, open-air Skyline Stage.” 

Time Out Chicago says, “Jaw-dropping, aerobatic stunts...adults will enjoy this show every bit as much as kids.”

Directed by Miao Miao Chen, “Cirque Shanghai: Year of the Dragon” is presented in this exclusive U.S. engagement by Navy Pier in conjunction with International Special Attractions, Ltd. (ISA) production headquarters in Shanghai, China.

International Special Attractions (ISA) was established in 1989 and over the past two decades has become a world leader in the production of large scale special attractions, events and theatrical productions. ISA’s ICE! attractions can be seen annually at four Gaylord Hotel locations throughout the United States, and have been enjoyed by over 5 million people worldwide. ISA was the first company to bring Chinese acrobats to Broadway and also produces Cirque Shanghai, which has performed in some of the most prestigious venues in the world, and recently played a sold out run at the New Victory Theatre on Broadway in New York City. Additionally, ISA has produced Luminasia for the past two years at The Galt House Hotel in Louisville, KY, USA. Clients have included The Walt Disney Company, Gaylord Entertainment, Navy Pier Chicago, Busch Entertainment Corp and Six Flags, Inc. Featured Television coverage has aired internationally, including networks such as NBC, CBS and ABC to name but a few.

Originally from a classical music background, Haiping Ge was one of the earliest producers serving in the Shanghai government's Office of Cultural Exchange Affairs. From that office, he hosted many of the first Western entertainers performing in China. For the last two decades, Haiping Ge has been producing shows with ISA for the world's premium venues. His current productions include: Cirque Shanghai for New Victory Theatre on Broadway; ICE! attractions in Dallas, Nashville, Orlando and Washington D.C. in association with Gaylord Resorts; Luminasia at The Galt House in Louisville, KY, USA. Haiping also produced a Chinese acrobatic show for Disney World, Florida which will run through the end of this year.

Miao Miao Chen 
is a second-generation performer as well as the show’s director. She studied with the internationally famous Shenyang Performing Arts Academy beginning at age five, and joined the acclaimed Shenyang Acrobatic Troupe, one of the top ten troupes in all of China, at age 13. Chen is the recipient of a Gold Lion Award from the International Acrobatics Competition in France, and received the top award for Best Innovative Performance in Uruguay. Chen has performed throughout the USA, Canada, Europe and Asia. In 2006 and 2007, Chen worked as a choreographer for “Le Grand Cirque” which has toured in cities across Australia, the United Kingdom and United States. Chen previously directed hit productions of “Cirque Shanghai” in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

About Navy Pier:
Located on Lake Michigan, just east of Chicago’s downtown, Navy Pier is the most- visited tourist and leisure destination in the Midwest, welcoming more than 8 million visitors annually. Originally opened in 1916 as a shipping and recreation facility, it is now one of the country’s preeminent recreation and exposition facilities, showcasing 50 acres of parks, gardens, restaurants, shops, attractions, sightseeing and dining cruise boats, exhibition facilities and more.

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