New Shanghai Circus December 30, 2006
New Shanghai Circus at Cerritos: Exhausting the Adjective Bank
By Glen Creason and Nancy Reppert
Over the weekend the New Shanghai Circus once more visited the Performing Arts Center and again defied gravity, boggled minds and sent scribblers scrambling for suitable adjectives. The immediate reaction is to use the “a” word appropriately often. We shall not, since if we did it might be repeated twenty-five times while traversing the maze of favorable mentions. This is that kind of show where audience mouths hang agape in awe and folks emit the strangest oaths while watching the uh, unreal happenings on the stage. We figured it might take two to describe this kind of ancient art form and on one side is the lady and on the other the sort of gentleman.
Awe-struck, stunned and exhausted -- that describes the audience as we
emerged from the stupefying spectacular we had just witnessed as the New
Shanghai Circus performed death-defying, magical stunts at the Cerritos
Center for the Performing Arts. What a marvel. Diving through tiny hoops,
twirling plates, executing terrific tumbling runs, standing on their heads
and on each other -- what strength and creative choreography were gloriously
displayed. Suspense was created for each act of daring with mile-wide
smiles and statuesque poses after each stunt.
The music was not what you would expect. Instead of hearing the unfamiliar twang of the Er Hu or the wail of the Di-Zi we experienced the troupe cavorting to the sounds of Western techno, throbbing electonica or even rap! After all it is the “New” Circus. All the while during the plangent soundscape the Shanghais never slowed slower than a quick trot. They nonchalantly flipped bowls up upon each other while sitting atop a twenty foot high parapet, adding a cup and spoon bull’s-eye to punctuate. They vaulted like Olympians through rings as high as an NBA hoops and wrestled both Lions and Pandas, escaping with only mussed hairdos. There were ladies and gents hurtling in space held by the slightest of ribbons and a brave man being vaulted off a large teeter-totter right into an “easy” chair at the top of a dangerously tall pole. There was much to admire and indeed, a lady to our left repeatedly called upon her maker by mumbling “Oh My God!” as the tricks and risks increased toward the latter parts of the show.
When's the last time you rode your bicycle with two people balanced on your
shoulders, three hanging on your right side, two on your left and one
sitting on the front handlebars? Indeed! Nine people on a bicycle! Good
thing the bicycle police weren't around. But, not only that, these eight
people precariously perched upon the bicycle all appear to be quite content
and confident as Bang Yuan Chen effortlessly pedals them around the stage as
if he hadn't a care in the world. Phenomenal!
The set and costumes added much to the exotic feel of the proceedings including colorful lady’s costumes and some fun stretches for the men including an awesome bit of strength involving three bellboys and their sturdy suitcases.
Barely a whisper was heard as an acrobat -- standing on his hands on three
unconnected blocks -- meticulously removes each block one by one while
remaining on his hands. Impossible? It was.
But he did it!