Wonder-struck by Cirque du Soleil's Dralion

Earlier this week, I had to bring into work a photo from my childhood. As I was looking through the box of family photos in my bedroom closet, I found this one:

And seeing it made me question where that carefree kid went.  I can be so focused on whatever tasks I’m juggling that it’s hard to just sit back and let myself be amazed by something.

Then last night, I saw Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion and was wonder-struck on a level I haven’t been in awhile.

Dralion is one of 22 productions that Cirque du Soleil currently has touring the world and it’s making its latest stop in Cleveland right now through this Sunday, April 8.

What started as a small Canadian street theatre group almost 30 years ago has been transformed into a 5,000-strong company that produces jaw-dropping spectacles worldwide. Their productions are renowned for incorporating acrobatic and aerial feats with music, mammoth sets and elaborate costuming.

After many years performing under the circus tent, Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion production has been transformed into an arena show on tour and is making its latest stop in Cleveland.

Dralion’s name is a combination of its two emblematic characters: the dragon, a symbol of Eastern culture, and the lion, symbolizing the West. Similarly, the show melds Cirque du Soleil’s street performer style with thousands of years of Chinese acrobatic arts.

This was my first Cirque du Soleil experience and I went in not really knowing what to expect. I knew I would probably fall in love with the costumes and design – and I definitely did, mesmerized when I caught a glimpse of the performers and technicians suspended high above the Wolstein Center in one of the show’s magnificent set pieces.

What I wasn’t as prepared for, though, was how beautiful and stunning the performances were. For over two hours, I was astonished act-after-act by the production’s acrobats, gymnasts, jugglers and aerial artists.

50 artists are featured over the course of Dralion. And between performances of acrobatic rope skipping, aerial dancingdiabolo yo-yoing, bamboo pole balancing and hoop diving, we were amused by offbeat vignettes from Dralion’s clowns.

My favorite act of the night, though, was the Trampoline – as aerialists flew back and forth between a trampoline and wall performing dizzying stunts mid-air. I kind of need the same setup for my backyard.

When I’m traveling, I always love stumbling onto street theatre. Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion, though, transcended those experiences – combining a jaw-dropping display of athleticism with a complementary mix of rock concert and ballet.

And if the performers’ feats of strength, balance and flexibility weren’t enough, the graceful choreography and powerful voices that filled the Wolstein Center transported me out of whatever stress I had been dealing with before the show and kept me in its grasp throughout.

As I walked out of the Wolstein Center afterwards – smiling with amazement – I caught a glimpse of that little girl in the picture.

Dralion is playing at the Wolstein Center now through this Sunday, April 8. The nice thing about being in an arena setup like the Wolstein is that you’re likely to have a clear, fairly close view of the action.

More information and tickets can be found here.

Disclosure: I was offered two tickets to see Dralion in exchange for reviewing it. As always, the events I choose to write about and my opinions are 100% my own.  Images courtesy of the Wolstein Center/Cirque du Soleil media kit.

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