Driving home down South Broad St. at 4 a.m. last Saturday (impromptu road trip to DC, don’t ask), I couldn’t help but notice the giant tent covering the once-vacant lot at the Washington Avenue intersection.
“Hmm,” I mused, “that wasn’t there before.”
So what is this monstrosity? It’s the site of Cirque Du Soleil’s latest undertaking, Dralion, and after some snooping around on the net, I discovered a hell of a lot about it. The show (running today through Oct. 21) is a Chinese circus wherein ancient tradition is met with the production company’s trademark avant-garde performance. It’s slated to feature a Chinese acrobat troupe who will transcend typical tricks (trapeze, juggling, hoop diving), and undertake more bizarre feats; vague and mysterious listings include “ballet on lights,” and “bamboo poles” (I’m reminded of that old Kung-Fu flick The Legend Of Iron Monkey for some reason…).
Artists and performers from seven other countries, including Brazil and the Ivory Coast, will also be present, along with an undoubtedly terrifying crew of clowns.
CDS originated in 1984 as a production company in Quebec. Initially a modest slew of travelling performers who sought to fuse circus acts with street performance, it grew over the past 17 years to produce a number of large-scale shows such as Dralion.
But the neat thing is that they pride themselves on the fact that no animals are incorporated into their performance. Everything is done with people, and they figure that talented performers supplemented by elaborate costumes and sets should be more than enough. Indeed, this year’s show is themed around the four elements of nature (air, water, fire and earth), so you can expect some pretty ornate depictions of each.
At $40 a pop for the cheap seats, this gets up there price-wise, but stuff of this caliber rarely comes through town. I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw a huge-ass pup tent ANYWHERE in the city, much less right in the heart of it. It should certainly be an experience … and a good time to milk that wonderful thing known as “the student discount.”