Friday, April 12, 2013

Under the Big Top

I'm not really a circus-goer.  When we were walking to the circus here in UB two and a half weeks ago, we discussed when we'd last seen the circus, and I couldn't remember (later I did - it was the North Korean circus at Geumgangsan.  How about those bragging rights?)  But EVERYONE has told me by now how great ERA is.  First a colleague at SUIS Gubei, but then no one wanted to go see it with me.  And then after I left, apparently all my friends went without me.  Even Domestic Goddess said it was good.  So I went off on my own last Thursday to experience it for myself.
It was...eah.  Don't get me wrong, the performers were very talented and it was well orchestrated.  However, it was a bit of a letdown from the international circus I saw here.  Also, I'd seen a LOT of the acts performed in one performance or another in Harbin or Chengdu.  For the price I paid - and I paid more than the minimum $50 seats - I was expecting more.
It had a kind of time-based theme, and they tried to interpret a movement through time in China.  The guy in the top picture wheeled his bike out with this giant pot, out of which came four contortionists (who knows how the hell they all fit in there???)  He sort of broke up or refereed a gang fight between these guys, who battled it out via jumping through hoops.  The guys China sent to the circus here that did this act were better than these guys, though.
I did find myself impressed by some of the acts.  Anyone gutsy enough to do the above stunt is pretty fricking awesome in my eyes.  I mean, seriously, you could kill yourself doing that.  I would, at any rate.
And at least one of the acts would NOT have been legal in the States.  I've never seen motorcycles in a cage.  Hell, I've never even seen ONE motorcycle doing this, let alone the seven they had going.  I may have been convinced these guys were going to die, and I was glad I wasn't in the splash zone.  Because seven motorcycles in a globe would have caused some bloodshed.
Having come from Xi'An earlier in the week, their costumes impressed me almost as much as their stunt.  If you can't tell, their design is based on the armor that the terracotta warriors wear. 

ERA is on line 1 (the red line) at Shanghai Circus World.  None of the signs tell you which exit to take, but if you take a look around once you're out, you'll figure out where it is pretty quickly.  Tickets were 300, 400, and 600 kuai, and I had no problem showing up and buying a good seat.  I did, on the other hand, have a hard time finding a restaurant that sold coke where I could go and have a sit while I waited for the show to start. 

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