ATLANTIC CITY — Several years ago, I had the pleasure of experiencing my first Cirque du Soleil show in Philadelphia. At the time, they were touring with their production of Kooza, a surreal exploration of identity presented in the form of acrobatic feats of dexterity.
I was a fan instantly.
So when I had the opportunity to experience Dralion on opening night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City Aug. 29, I jumped at the chance.
Dralion is a very curious show. It uses the symbolism of the four elements (earth, fire, wind, and water) to tell a story of balance and harmony. Each act of the show represents one of these elements as they blend one into the other, creating a dazzling display that leaves the viewers in awe. The seriousness of the show's more tension-filled moments are given a bit of levity by a trio of clowns, who seem to appear out of nowhere just when your pulse is begging for mercy.
Choosing highlights of the show is a rather daunting task, as the performance is relentless. There really are no dull moments. But some segments did strike a particular note with me ...
The Trampoline act was a dizzying blur of acrobats who looked as if they could defy gravity. Walking up vertical surfaces, flying from one side of the stage to the other, and clinging to walls in a fashion that would make Peter Parker proud, these performers had the first truly "wow" moment of the evening.
The Aerial Hoop is not for the faint of heart. Seeing a girl dangling 30 feet above the crowd from the back of her neck while swinging out over the audience and spinning like she's stuck in a Cuisinart will make your palms sweat. This act is equal parts terrifying and devilishly seductive and without a doubt, definitely a crowd-pleaser.
Toward the end of the show was the Hoop Diving act, where a small army of tumbling tribal natives flipped impossibly through the air, passing through hoops no bigger than the average American's waist size (okay, it was probably smaller than that). The jumping, rolling, sliding and flipping kept me saying "No way…" each time they upped the difficulty, and each time they executed it flawlessly.
The Diabolo and Skipping Ropes acts were a little unusual for the theme of this show, but no less impressive in their precision and artistry. I had to ask myself during the Diabolo performance, "How exactly does somebody become THAT good at something?"
This is not your traditional juggling or your schoolyard jump-roping. These are surgical exercises designed to showcase the level of discipline these artists have mastered.
One of the longest-running productions in the international cache of shows known as Cirque du Soleil — character-driven shows blending circus styles from around the world into a central theme or storyline — is making its first-ever appearance in Atlantic City through Sept. 2.
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