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Review: Cirque du Soleil's 'Dralion' dazzles, delights

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Every so often a show comes along that raises the bar for what a great night out can be. Cirque du Soleil's "Dralion" is one of those shows.

This is Charleston's first visit from the Cirque du Soleil empire, and with a little luck, it won't be our last. Attendance at the opening night was a bit on the skimpy side and much less than we've seen at Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey or even at the gear-grinding Monster Jam. (I adore both.)

At a rough estimate, there were just a couple hundred people at the Charleston Civic Center. It's hard to imagine what kept people away, but Cirque du Soleil's "Dralion" is a show not to be missed. It is spectacular.

It's easy to go into "Dralion" expecting it to be basically the circus -- just without the lions and tigers. That the Canadian-born "cirque" doesn't use animals in their amusements has become kind of a calling card. But really, Cirque du Soleil is as different from the traditional circus as a Broadway musical is to a television show.

While there are indisputable similarities -- similar types of acts, in this case -- the way they're represented is different.

Cirque du Soleil isn't just acrobats, contortionists, jugglers, aerialists and dancers. It's acrobats who are also aerialists, jugglers who are also contortionists and everybody is a dancer.

"Dralion" has the magic of the circus, the clever trickery with the lights and the set, and the sleight of hand, but where the traditional circus veers toward the garish and bright in an attempt to overwhelm the senses, this new circus has a subtler approach.

They want you to be dazzled, but not dazed by the spectacle.

The whole show is a delight to watch. All night, I kept waiting for someone to miss, for a juggler to drop something or an acrobat to stumble. They never did. The performers simply delivered one jaw-dropping feat after another until there was nothing left to do but take a bow.

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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