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Flash Review 2, 4-9: Defying Gravity
Peking Acrobats are Their Own Special Effects
By Angela Jones
Copyright 2001 Angela Jones
When a show can fill you with the
awe and wonder of a 10-year-old, you know you have had a good time (especially
when the 10-year-olds around you confirm it). The physical feats of the Peking
Acrobats at the New Victory Theater, seen Saturday, seem almost fake or surreal,
defying laws of body mechanics and physics. It is like watching "Crouching Tiger,
Hidden Dragon" live, without camera tricks creating the special effects.
Much of the show centers on balancing
acts, plates, glass structures, chairs, people -- you name it. But the audience
never seems to tire of each new twist on the theme. Jaw-dropping acrobatics (hence
the name), pole and rope climbing round out the evening. All 26 members of this
troupe are amazing athletes with grace and charisma in addition to their razor-sharp
precision. And each time you get ready to clap for the big trick, they up the
ante and surprise you by doing something you never even considered possible. Even
though each act seems more sensational than the last, the show never ceases to
be entertaining (which is more than I can say for many modern dance performances).
The company also does not try to thread the acts together with any kind of real
narrative line, and I appreciated the gimmick-free sense of raw physical virtuosity.
However, the show is not simply a string of typical circus tricks totally lacking
in creativity. The human lion/dragon act was especially engaging, making one forget
that there were people under the incredible costumes, creating difficult physical
machinations to produce this enchanting illusion of two giant lions balancing
on a big ball or a lion suddenly popping out a baby lion that it had been carrying
Although there is artistry in it,
this show never intends to be art. It is honestly everything entertainment should
be, uplifting, awe-inspiring and an exploration of the full extent of human potential.
I often look for the reaction of kids in an audience when I see them at a show.
I looked up to the balcony at intermission and noticed a boy in the balcony with
his head thrown back trying to balance his program on a pen sticking out of his
mouth. In my judgment, that's success.
Peking Acrobats continue at the New
Victory through April 22, with performances this Wednesday at 2 and 7 p.m., Thursdays
through Saturdays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m., and Sundays at noon and 5 p.m.
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