In general, we avoid Navy Pier. It's basically the Times Square of Chicago--cheesy, expensive and universally beloved by tourists while largely ignored by locals like us who balk at the $20+ parking fees.
But along with the mediocre food, tour boats and amusement park rides, there are some real treasures: WBEZ, our local NPR station; the Chicago Children's Museum, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater; and now, Cirque Shanghai: Year of the Dragon, which is appearing at the open-air Pepsi Skyline Stage this summer.
I took the family on a beautiful Sunday afternoon and we were blown away. Each act outshone the last, and by the time the Wheel of Destiny (pictured) arrived, the hair on the back of my neck was standing up and 7-year-old Zoe was gasping at the danger the acrobats were putting themselves in. Little Ada's mouth was agape for most of the performance, but she was just as excited by the pretty, sparkly costumes as she was by the amazing feats of flexibility, balance and juggling.
Speaking of costumes, a few of the outfits had a stylized Pepsi logo emblazoned onto the legs in sequins. And, even though it was only half the "Pepsi smile," my older daughter immediately recognized and called out the relationship to the stage name and the fact that "a whole lot of people are drinking Pepsi here."
But that's not all she noticed. Zoe was so excited by the show and the fact that I was going to be writing about it on my blog that she begged to write her own review. And here's where I hand it over to her...
Today I went to a circus called Cirque Shanghai. It was called “The Year of the Dragon.” First there was an opening finally. Next some men got a hoop and they did flips and dive rolls through it. Then the men called out “Ho!” Next some women in really pretty pink dresses did contortion, and they bent their bodies in really hard positions! One lady even touched her foot on her head and bent it to the front of her body!
Next a man did slack wire. He did lots of rolls on the slack wire and he even unicycled on it! Then some girls lay on a chair in a position called candlestick. They put balls on their feet and made cool juggling motions. My favorite was when they put one ball on each foot and passed them around to the other girls using only their feet! It was pretty amazing.
Next a girl climbed up a long red silk and did cool tricks on it. She hooked up her feet to the silk and did the splits in mid air with only her feet hooked up to the silk! Then a man did cool juggling where he did plain old juggling except he bounced 7 balls up and down stairs in a form of juggling. He probably practiced a lot! Next a woman stood on a stack of chairs and helped another woman onto a chair and that woman helped another woman and so on until there was about 8 women stacked all the way to close to the ceiling!
Zoe got distracted before she could describe the most incredible part of the show, Imperial Thunder, a death-defying stunt in which five motorcyclists (including one gal in pink!) ride their motorcycles in carefully choreographed circles inside a steel globe.
Cirque Shanghai: Year of the Dragon will perform through September 3 with regular matinee and evening performances. Tickets are $15.50-$29.50.