[ATTENDED: March 3, 2013] Cirque Ziva
The Golden Acrobats performed a series of exciting and amazing feats on stage. It was not quite the spectacle of last year’s Peking Acrobats, although there were many similar elements. The Peking Acrobats were completely over the top. Cirque Ziva felt a little smaller but with more flash in costumery and sets.
It opened with a series of…wheels? Round cage-like apparatus that you climb in and roll around–Clark and I actually saw these in a Jackie Chan film recently–they seemed to be a part of Chinese military training (somehow). But the Golden Acrobats did much more than Jackie did with them. With different sizes and numbers of participants they used these wheels to wondrous effect–spinning and rolling and climbing on and off. It was mesmerizing.
And then it was time for the women to show off. The first item was called “Thousand Hands.” Six identically dressed women (with super long golden nails) stood one behind the other and then their arms spread out in a wild and wonderful array. They worked in beautiful synchronicity and it looked amazing. For Peking we were upstairs in the balcony, and being able to see all six women from the top spoiled the effect somewhat, it was much more impressive here. Then they moved onto more, amazing contortions (see the poster above which I don’t even understand even though I saw her do it). They did both group formations and an individual performance (and we all agreed the woman was mind blowing and a little gross).
And then it was back to fun, with a guy on a teeter totter. He placed bowls on the end of the teeter totter and flipped them onto his head, one after the other. It wasn’t over the top in any way but it was utterly amazing–he made it look so easy.
Then came our favorite–the hoops. The Peking Acrobats had a similar set up, but the Golden Acrobats did very different things with them, including a backwards flip in the air and through a hoop that had to be six feet high. And when on the first attempt he knocked the hoop over, he did it again…perfectly.
The biggest surprise to me came with the ball juggling because the juggling was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The balls were largish (maybe a small soccer ball) and they did all the juggling with their feet (while sitting upside down on an inclined chair). This culminated in a fascinating scene in which three women on top of each other juggled balls to each other in what looked like nothing less than a perfect machine. Next came hat juggling in which the men did some fun spins and flips with hats that seemed like they may have been filled with helium the way they floated around. Later on there was also umbrella juggling in which the women did amazing things with these special umbrellas–flipping them spinning them throwing them in the air (almost all with their feet again). The final prop was a table–not a large table, but a table nonetheless and the woman did amazing things with this table and her feet–flipping it end over end, spinning it the table top–doing things I can’t imagine doing with my hands yet she was doing them with her feet.
As the first act came to an end they did a unicycle performance. What blew my mind was that the unicycles didn’t have seats, so really it was a just a wheel with pedals. And they drove around on them and did stunts and–most remarkable of all, leaped over people onto a waiting cycle and started pedaling–they landed on the pedals (ouch!).
Act I ended with an incredible feat of strength from two men–at one point the man on the bottom held the man on top upside down and they were more or less head to head–at first they had their arms locked but then they let go and the man on the top was doing a head stand on the neck of the man on the bottom. I can’t even imagine how it was done. The rest of the strong act was staggering with feats of balance and strength that were incredible.
Act II began with some fun jump rope activity–lassos and people leaping and spinning through them. They even did rope jumping on those unicycles! And later there was a similar act with giant flags–sweeping under people as they flipped over them. They also uses those hourglass shaped devices that are on strings which more and more juggles seem to be using. They are called diabolos. I would love to give that a try someday.
Then came the chair act. Like with the Peking Acrobats, they stacked up chairs and did crazy feats of strength on the top of this visible rickety tower. Even though we’d seen it before it was still incredible and hold your breath scary. And, in this case, the acrobat spoke to the audience and encouraged more cheers from us–he had real stage presence, which is not something that the Chinese acrobats usually bother with. The height at which this guy did his thing was hard to fathom and if the chairs had tipped forward he would have been in about row ten.
The finale was a group performance on a bicycle with all of the troupe climbing on and balancing as he rode around in circles. My first thought was that when the first guy climbed on, he threw his legs over the shoulders of the rider, and how that alone would topple most bike riders.
The kids loved it. Sarah’s mom (it was her birthday loved it and we both loved it. I decided that from now on everyone needs to enter a room by doing a somersault and a back handspring and then standing on line with everyone else. It was a wonderful afternoon. Keep up the amazing work Golden Acrobats. And keep up the amazing programming, RVCC.