by Mari S. Gold
Actually, the only thing the Golden Dragon Acrobats don’t do is aerial acts. What they do is dazzle with skill and finesse using all kinds of familiar objects—balls, parasols, chairs, hoops, hats and jump ropes–in a variety of ways. The twenty-three members of the troupe make it look easy, even as they bend, stretch and balance in poses that boggle the mind.
The costumes are bright, the recorded music a blend of “ancient” and contemporary and the precision of the performers a tribute to both skill and what is clearly years of arduous practice.
In Act 1 of the two-hour show, a woman stands in an upright split, one leg stretched taught against her body, foot flexed. On it, she balances a tray with stacked glassware. A feat in itself, she lowers herself to the ground and adds trays so that almost every limb supports another. At the very end, she dismantles one tray so we can see each element separate (look ma, no glue) and then she pours water from one of the glasses. Don’t try this at home.
The Thousand Arms Dance has five women standing in single file, arms stretched sideways ending in gold-encased fingertips. As they move, it’s close to psychedelic. In Act ll’s Solo Pole, a man with abs of steel pulls off balances that are unbelievable, a sort of sideways Pilates on steroids. There is lots of juggling using feet including a number in which women lie on their backs passing a ball up one side, over to a partner and down the other.
Once in a while, (maybe twice in the entire performance), someone misses so a ball drops or a toss fails to connect. It’s reassuring to know these amazing athletes are humans just like us albeit more fit than most.
The Golden Dragon Acrobats come from Hebei and Henan province where the performers have trained since childhood. Impresario Danny Chang joined the troupe at age ten and has led the group in tours throughout the U.S. and more than sixty-five countries.
This is an eye-filling spectacle that provides great fun for all ages.
For more information about the Golden Dragon Acrobats, visit http://www.goldendragonacrobats.com/