Featuring Joli Culture Company
by Linda Burlingame
I marvel watching these incredible performers, thinking of the training and preparation required for the amazing acts they do. Flexibility, focus, balance, and years of practice are needed to wow audiences at the Amazing Acrobats of Shanghai!
China has a written history going back 3500 years. It was during the Han Dynasty, more than 2000 years ago, that the Chinese saw the first acrobats, magicians, and jugglers. The acrobatics evolved out of village harvest celebrations. Today the acts are choreographed with great precision; the show’s choreographer, Miss Xu (pronounced “Shu”) makes sure of that! Beautiful music and beautiful, brilliant costumes make this show a feast for the senses.
In many of my articles I mention, “One of my favorite parts of the show is …” but this show? My favorite is the one I’m watching! Each is more amazing than the last. (I need a bigger Thesaurus, for more words like amazing, astonishing, unbelievable, incredible!) The seven boys who flip their fedoras are fun to watch. They’re tossing their toppers while twirling and turning somersaults. Forming pyramids and tossing hats across to the others. Two boys with five hats; one boy with three hats; two boys each juggling four hats … then a pyramid of six, each juggling three hats! See what I mean?!
A Narrator sets up the acts with a bit of history or explanation. She talks of an area south of the Yangtze River, walking in the soft rain, as young ladies with umbrellas take the stage. Pretty, dainty ladies who are soon amazing you as they whirl and spin the umbrellas, balancing them with their feet … how many umbrellas?! And the boy and girl who glide and soar with the silk scarves look so graceful you have to think twice to realize how much strength it takes to make it look so serene.
Jar juggling is an act that makes me think about when performers first start practicing for that. Ouch?! First it’s a medium size jar, then a bigger one. (My grandmother had one she called a jardinière, a large pot for flowers.) It spins on his head. He throws it wa-a-a-y up in the air; when it lands back on his head, it’s still spinning … and the chair stacking — astonishing. Such remarkable balance! There are frequent “oohs” and gasps from the audience.
“Magic” comes into play when an exquisitely costumed character enters the stage. The lavishly embroidered cape swings and swirls as the character swiftly glides around the stage. The magic? Watch the mask! It’s a captivating illusion. Amazing Acrobats of Shanghai is on stage at the Mickey Gilley Grand Shanghai Theatre, with some morning, afternoon, and evening shows. You’ll be totally charmed and entertained by the brilliance of the show, your journey through the Orient!