‘Cirque Zíva’ at The Music Center at Strathmore by Keith Tittermary

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Strathmore’s Concert Hall is usually a venue for some of the area’s finest music. But on Thursday night, the conductor’s baton was traded in for human gyroscopes and a troupe of Chinese acrobats that whizzed through the air as if the laws of Physics did not apply to them.

Cirque Ziva. Photo by Amitava Sarkar.
Cirque Ziva. Photo by Amitava Sarkar.

Cirque Zíva, the newest show from producer Danny Chang, Artistic Director of the Golden Dragon Acrobats, bewitched the audience and treated us to a spectacle of epic proportions. In Hebrew, the word “ziv” means “radiance, brilliance or light of God”, and what a fitting way to describe this mesmerizing experience.

The first radiance of the evening came in the form of traditional Chinese music that suddenly morphed into a techno mix that was the perfect accompaniment to the three ring circus we were about to witness. Lighting Designer Tony Tucci, painted a glorious picture on stage, while the costumes were colorful Chinese cheongsams as if they were designed by Dr. Seuss.

While the production design was exquisite, it paled in comparison to the agile acrobats on stage. Some of the many highlights were a group of beautiful women doing an arm dance that channeled the Hindu god Shiva, and perfectly choreographed jump rope routine that had about five simultaneous ropes moving at different speeds. Oh, and did I mention that they were all jumping rope on unicycles?

Cirque Ziva. Photo by Amitava Sarkar.
Cirque Ziva. Photo by Amitava Sarkar.

But the main attraction of this surreal carnival was the penultimate act. The ringmaster of this motley crew started stacking chairs on top of each other and was climbing up like a nimble monkey. His ladder stretched from the Concert Hall stage to the lighting grid above, at least two stories. The gasps from the audience as he kept adding another chair to his tower contributed to the intensity of the moment. And in his final act atop his seating sculpture was a one armed handstand that, for a moment, seemed to stop time and silence the energetic audience.

It’s a shame that this much in demand performance was only in town for one evening, but if tonight’s dynamic reception was any indicator, it will not be their last visit. I look forward to witnessing their next showcase of magical artistry.

Running Time: Two hours and 10 minutes, with one intermission.

Cirque Zíva performed for one night only on March 7, 2013 at the Music Center of Strathmore- 5301 Tuckerman Lane, in North Bethesda, MD.  For upcoming events, please check out their website.

http://youtu.be/HgYJJlPlPKk