Review by Danielle Rosvally
(Boston, MA) World Music CRASHArts has been hard at work, as usual, rounding up some of the most spectacular traditional and not-so-traditional companies from around the world. They bring these companies right here to Boston for local audiences to enjoy, and boy did CRASHArts hit a home run with the Golden Dragon Acrobats. Cirque Ziva is precisely the one-of-a-kind experience that CRASHArts labors so diligently to produce on the Boston stage; it was an absolute treasure of a performance and certainly not to be missed.
Forget what you know about the circus (or even other famous “Cirque” shows). These Chinese acrobats are colorful, hip, and energetic. They bring fun to the dramatics of death-defying with their happening house beats, engaging performances, and vibrant costumes. Enchanting even while it thrills, this performance marries all the skill of traditional acrobatics with the joy of play.
One of the more striking elements of the performance was to watch the company functioning as a company. In the modern Circus, an audience is used to seeing specialty acts; performers who come on to do their one piece then disappear for the show’s duration; perhaps to reappear in some kind of grand finale montage. The Golden Dragon Acrobats don’t function this way; all the performers are multi-talented and appear onstage throughout the show executing a variety of feats from balancing on each other, to contortionism, to strength-acrobatics, to juggling. As usual, the circus law of “but wait; there’s more” applies; just when you think a trick can’t get any more ridiculously entertaining, the performer finds some way to do it bigger, better, and with 50% fewer body parts touching the ground.
The company makes magic with the seemingly mundane. In their incredibly skilled and practiced hands, straw hats become juggling tools, a bicycle becomes the foundation for a living, moving sculpture, and high-backed wooden chairs become the vehicle to the show’s grand finale. Amongst other common household objects you can expect never to look at the same again are: hula-hoops, volleyballs, champagne glasses, platters, and shot glasses.
The show is lit superbly. With a clever understanding of how to emphasize his performers, LD Gregory Kouvolo designed the mystical world of Cirque Ziva with no more than airy beams of nothing. At times, the lighting is harsh and sharp, at others soft and sultry, and at certain moments it gives the performers the appearance of existing in a world all their own. Knowing when to highlight certain portions of the space (and the most effective way to do so using lights) can add dimensions to a performance; and Cirque Ziva is living proof of it.
The costumes, designed by Angela Chang, are colorful and vibrant; just like the performances. They create a certain amount of acrobat envy in the fashionable audience member; I know I’d kill to have an occasion to wear a few of those spectacular leotards out on the town.
With any luck, CRASHArts will be able to lure the Golden Dragon Acrobats back to the Cutler Majestic; and when they do, make sure you don’t miss the spectacle. In the meantime, check out one of the multitude of other top-notch performances from the CRASHArts World Music series; any one of them is sure to be a far cry from the ordinary.