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Saturday, March 2
The Indiana Daily Student

arts

New circus show full of excitement

NEW YORK -- The New Shanghai Circus is a family show that gets right into the act. Without so much as a hello to the kids, the lights go down, the curtain rises and you're captured by the red ribbons and human roars of the lion dance. \nThe circus has roots in ancient times, in the harvest festivals of the Han Dynasty. But there is nothing dated about defying the limits of strength and grace. Against a rotating backdrop of bridges, waterfalls and China's Great Wall, performers roller skate on tables, bend bows of metal or use their feet to shoot an arrow while hanging upside down atop a fellow acrobat's head. \nNo matter how heavy the lifting, the touch remains light at the New Shanghai Circus, which just started a six-week run at Broadway's New Victory Theater. The secret is in the open, friendly smiles, as if the dozen or so acrobats, contortionists and magicians were just nice people who in their spare time like to balance bowls on their heads while riding unicycles. (In other words, they are committed professionals who rehearse until they ache.) \nThe Shanghai troop makes for the best kind of company -- joyous but never hammy, modest but never coy. The spirit is less of showing off than of shared adventure. When an acrobat fails to cleanly vault through a hoop some 10 feet high, balanced upon four others, his assistants simply reset the hoops and let him try again. \nAt the end of a "plate spinning'' piece, in which stacks of dishes twirl atop long bamboo rods, a juggler strides to the front of the stage and lays the plates down, as if by breaking the spell she confirms that the spell had really been cast.

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