For those who do not know, I am a bonafide fan of Cirque Du Soleil. Ever since my first experience in 2007 with the production of Kooza in National Harbor, I wanted to witness more of what this amazing circus troupe from Canada can do. Since Kooza, I have seen three other productions (Ovo, Totem, and Quidam) in the DC/Baltimore Metro areas. Every show delivers outstanding performances that are beyond words. I cannot believe what appeared before my eyes last night when I sat in my seat at 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore. Only months since the MJ Immortal Tour, Cirque is BACK with the production that launched the Cirque connection for Charm City way back in 2003. Mix fascinating doses of western and eastern cultures with live music, astonishing acrobats, and crazy comedic clowns and you’ve got Dralion!
When Dralion came to Charm City in 2003, it was a traditional show under the Grand Chapiteau production. This time, the folks at CDS have restaged the production into an intimate arena type setting that still captures your attention and never lets go. In Dralion, we are introduced to the four elements of air, water, fire & earth in human form. The show symbolizes that nature and mankind are one in a never-ending quest and together, they can achieve a perfect balance. Dralion draws a total of fifty-four performers from sixteen nations including some Chinese performers from the Xiandong province who trained in the world of gymnastics before joining the phenomenal Cirque Du Soleil troupe.
The atmosphere of Dralion is wicked. You will be in awe of the huge metallic backdrop that makes you wonder if it’s the Chinese temple of the future or a wall of armor. Before you can say a hop skip and a jump, you will see five performers sail through the air onto two trampolines in a series of flips, wall walks and somersaults. After seeing this set, all you can say is “Wow!”
Highlights of this amazing show includes a juggler who masters the art so vividly by displaying his incredible flexibility while juggling sticks and seven balls through the air like magic. The incredible Chinese performers amazed us with three different acts, most memorably one in which the performers have to keep their bamboo poles in flight while performing dynamic acrobatic feats on the stage. The title performer, the Dralion, blends the traditional lion and dragon with a Cirque twist that will leave you breathless. Our dralions perform while balancing on large balls on a seesaw while dancing. How did they manage to pull this off? You will have to see it to believe it! Finally, ten brave men (emphasis on Brave) dive and throw themselves through small wooden hoops like arrows. While some of the hoops were stationary, others rotate making the feat mind blowing.
Clowns provided some great comedic moments in Dralion. In one skit, the audience was treated to a look at their hairpieces through various styles. A pre-show skit had clowns roaming throughout the floor performing some good ol’ slapstick comedy. In fact, one of the clowns got married to a young lady. All it took was a veil with the tossing of the rice down the aisle and you have an instant wedding at Dralion. To be selected to share the stage with the Cirque clown is an honor. The volunteers showed great enthusiasm for the efforts and you can not help but cheer them on while wondering how you would respond if you were ever selected.
If there are two feats that stood out for me – they would have to be the Skipping Ropes and the Aerial Pas de Deux. If you need a love story in Dralion, then the Aerial Pas de Deux delivers it. Imagine if you will, two lovers flying across the stage in a long band of majestic blue cloth. They perform an acrobatic feat that pushes their strength, flexibility and love to a new degree. It’s emotional. It’s moving. It’s a passionate display of pure, unadulterated talent. For those who have skipped rope in their childhood, these performers take the game to a whole new dimension as they keep time and patience while performing flips, make human pyramids and columns that cannot be duplicated at home.
Dralion has come full circle with its triumphant return to Charm City. Like all previous Cirque Du Soleil productions, it continues to be superior in family entertainment to its legions of fans. This show will broaden your horizons as to how a circus can push the envelope to do the impossible. This is the perfect show for you and the entire family to close out the summer season. If you have not been to a Cirque Du Soleil show, this is one NOT to be missed!
Dralion will continue to perform at 1st Mariner Arena until Sunday August 26th. Tickets range from $32.00 – $80.00 and are available at www.cirquedusoleil.com/dralion, www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 1(800) 745-3000
TRR Theatre Review by Dean Rogers, Photos courtesy of Mark Mahoney