The circus arrives with high-flying flair and style

    When one thinks of the circus, what usually comes to mind are large beasts, lion tamers and death-defying acrobatics. From elephants and tigers roaming about to the sound of a man being shot out of a cannon, having a night under the “”big top”” brings back many childhood memories.

    Lyon Liew
    Guardian

    Just don’t tell that to the cast and crew of Cirque du Soleil’s production of “”Dralion.””

    “”Dralion”” is not a circus in the traditional sense. With a cast consisting of only humans, this production showcases jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring acrobatics with all the glitz and glamour of a Vegas extravaganza.

    What makes any Cirque du Soleil show unique is the level and depth of the performances. From the trapeze to skipping ropes to juggling, elements of any standard circus, “”Dralion”” brings out the extremes in perplexity of every movement.

    Lyon Liew
    Guardian

    Think juggling six balls at one time is difficult? Try doing that on one foot while the other foot is kicking another ball on the ground up onto your head. Imagine skipping rope while jumping over two other sets of rope jumpers at the same time.

    Other acts include balancing bamboo poles, a double trapeze, hoop diving, handbalancing and the use of a teeterboard.

    At times, members of the cast show how flexible they can be. For handbalancing, the performer seems more rubber than human.

    While balancing herself on one hand, the performer is able to stretch her entire body backward and manages to bring her feet over her head. She tops that feat by switching her balancing hand while tucked in her binding position.

    It’s a difficult accomplishment for the cast of “”Dralion,”” but they succeed at not only astonishing the audience, but also making it look easy enough for anyone to attempt.

    Beyond the actual performances, Cirque du Soleil is renowned for incorporating a theme into its production that at times seems to be over-the-top and somewhat cheesy.

    For “”Dralion,”” the show tries to bring everything together with a story about the natural elements: air, water, fire and earth. From the flashy costumes to the intricate sets, “”Dralion”” sometimes feels like being in a Baz Luhrmann film rather than a circus.

    No circus is complete without clowns, and “”Dralion”” is no exception. However, these clowns are an integral part of the entire performance, providing not only comic relief, but also integrating the theme of the show. The clowns bring wit and charming humor beyond their typical, slapstick stereotypes.

    In addition, these clowns are willing to thoroughly humiliate and tease audience members, making it a delight for everyone except for the one being made fun of.

    There are many different Cirque du Soleil productions around, but “”Dralion”” is unique because of its emphasis on Chinese acrobatics. With a cast that is predominantly Chinese, “”Dralion”” combines many of the acts from Chinese circuses and ties it in with Western choreography and flair.

    “”Dralion”” is in town for a short engagement and it is a unique experience to behold.

    “”Dralion”” is being performed at the Del Mar Fairgrounds for a limited engagement. Tickets range from $45 to $65. For more information call 800-678-5440 or go online at http://www.cirquedusoleil.com

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