Cirque in A.C.

This past week­end we saw Cirque du Soleil’s tour­ing show Dralion at Atlantic City’s his­toric Board­walk Hall.

I think this was fourth Cirque per­for­mance I’ve seen (though third show, as I’ve seen Walt Dis­ney World’s twice), and it had all the Cirque trade­marks I’ve come to expect. There’s the hal­lu­cino­genic sto­ry­line, East meets West via acro­bats, giant pup­pets, dream crea­tures and clowns you wouldn’t want to meet on the prover­bial dark alley. Per­haps care­ful study of the tour guide and/or repeat­ed view­ings would make this clear­er, but I’m con­tent that the tale is a con­ve­nient inspi­ra­tion for per­for­mances and costumes.

I absolute­ly love Cirque’s instance on hav­ing the music per­formed live, as well as the way they have per­form­ers roll on and off the props. Cirque start­ed off as a street show in Que­bec and there’s a lot of that diy anar­chic spir­it that has held on despite the million-dollar revenues.

The tour­ing shows have sim­ple setups that can fit side­ways into stan­dard bas­ket­ball audi­to­ri­ums. It works, but it’s noth­ing like the cus­tom spaces, like the one in Walt Dis­ney World. Still, out was nice to have a local taste of Cirque that fit the bud­get of a spe­cial date (this show dou­bled as our eleventh wed­ding anniversary).

Leav­ing the show we fol­lowed the temp­ta­tion to walk the board­walk, to utter dis­ap­point­ment. Atlantic City’s ocean­front is dom­i­nat­ed by block-long casi­no entrances that long ago replaced the array of small shops you see else­where. Artistry is com­plete­ly absent, with Cirque’s live music in stark con­trast to the over­pow­ered sound sys­tems throw­ing gener­ic dance music out from the edges of the walk. After a block we turned around and head­ed inland to Absecon’s Mount Fuji for a post-show din­ner. Poor Atlantic City.

Here’s the trail­er for Cirque’s Dralion: