CIRQUE ZÃVAÂ at the New Victory Theater, with artistic direction by Danny Chang and choreography by Angela Chang, is a superbly performed piece of physical theatre. If their purpose was to demonstrate the incredible capabilities of the human body, theyÂ achieved it without a doubt.
TheÂ Golden Dragon Acrobats are flexible and well balanced athletes, actors and artists who were trained in their craft from early childhood. There areÂ acrobats spinning around within metal rings, strong women standing on each other, while keeping smiles on their faces, men leaping through hoops, and juggling acts. One of them,Â Ya Nan Hou, impressively tosses and turns a table on her legs while reclining.
Other acts include flag waving, group ropes, unicycles, nine people riding one bike and aÂ man who creates a tower of six chairs and does a handstand onÂ its top. It’s funny, I have seen so many photos of people riding a bike together in India – they do it in daily life! I’ve also seen a 57 year-old man who did a handstand on a tower of chairs without a wire on his back for safety, as opposed to ZÃVAÂ acrobats.
After intermission, a female contortionistÂ was hanging from strips of blue silk cloths. I didn’t understand why they had to combine her with two men performing a strength and balancing act. We had to choose which one to watch.Â Another contortionist, Ping Gao. impressed us with twisting trays of wine glasses around her body. She put the trays on her legs, hands and even her head. We thought that the glasses were not real or even glued, but at the end of her act she emptied some liquid out of the glasses.
Although most of the performers are from Asia, the music is not. The costumes are very colorful, which adds to the movement of acrobats and the beauty of the stage.
We came on a very rainy day, and it was our first visit to the New Victory. I like the idea of locker space downstairs to store coats during the show, as well asÂ extra cushions for the kids seats. In addition, you can pre-order intermission snacks (at reasonable prices), thus avoiding a long line.
The only thing I would change is that I would have added an M.C. who would communicate with the kids and make them laugh. I understand that most the actors are not American, but itâ€™s a family show. Kids deserve to be talked to.
A Show for Autistic Children
This performance has been specially adapted for individuals with autism or sensory sensitivity and everyone is welcome to enjoy the show in a relaxed atmosphere. In order to make the show more accessible to individuals on the autism spectrum and their families,Â these provisions were made:
- Sound in the production will be loweredÂ and staff will warn of any upcoming loud noises during the show.
- Lights in the seating area will be dimmed rather than fully dark during the performance.
- A Relaxed Atmosphere allows patrons to talk and vocalize as they wish, as well asÂ leave and re-enter the seating area as needed.
- An Activity Area will be available with a live video feed of the show, coloring sheets and fidget toys if patrons need to take a break from the seating area.
- A Calming CornerÂ will be available with fidget toysÂ and bean bag chairs if patrons need a quiet place to relax.
- Autism Specialists will be available throughout the performance to provide assistance as requested or needed.
- A Family RestroomÂ (gender-neutral)Â will be designated.
CIRQUE ZÃVA is playing until January 4th. Tickets can be bought here.
About the author: Liat Ginsberg is aÂ mother and a formerÂ Journalist for theÂ Israeli newspaper Maariv. SheÂ taught at the Film and Media department at Hunter College.