Shangri-La Chinese acrobats thrill audience

This past Sunday, the Shangri-La Chinese Acrobats put a show on in the Saddleback College McKinney Theater. Awesome is the only word to describe it. The energy, magic, color, tradition and sheer entertainment were all there in abundance and every skit was a visual, emotional and magical experience.

McKinney was a perfect place for this show. While not as majestic as Cirque du Soleil-type productions, this performance brought a level of intimacy that larger venues cannot achieve. Even in the back rows of a full house, the audience felt connected with the performers, closely following their every nuance and movement, applauding when a trick was successfully concluded, applauding even more profusely when the second attempt succeeded. (There were very few first time misses, but every miss was perfectly executed on the second try.)

The show, which lasted almost ninety minutes with a brief intermission, featured simple props with dancing dragons, clowns, acrobats, jugglers, and dancers in richly layered performances. The troupe, which numbered less than twenty were experts in gymnastics, martial arts, acrobatics, acting, comedy and illusion. The kaleidoscope of costume and performer changes and the multi-faceted talents of the performers made it virtually impossible to distinguish between individuals, and reinforced the total selflessness of the troupe creating a production that was greater than the sum of its individual parts.

Audience members were amazed at the flexibility of the performers- several seemed to have no bones whatsoever. Difficult balancing acts were made to seem easy and one performance in particular: that of a single performer scaling a tower with a base, four champagne bottles and chairs stacked one atop another to the very roof of the auditorium had everyone spellbound, not to mention a little apprehensive. All around you heard whispers of “I can’t believe he’s adding another one (chair)” or “Ohmigod, I can’t look”. (But they did.)

Whatever age you were, adult, senior or child, this show brought out joy and happiness. I strongly recommend that you make this performance a “must see” if and when the troupe returns for an encore performance.

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