If you're in the mood for one of the best clown acts in the United States, drive on over to Stockton Arena for Cirque du Soleil's "Dralion." Oh, there are plenty of awe-inducing moments of dangerous acrobatic acts and fantastic visuals, but unlike many of Cirque's other shows, "Dralion's" best foot forward is a rather large one wearing an oversized shiny black shoe. Without giving too much away, the best way to describe our daring "trio" is to say the act involves a lot of "audience participation."
Unfortunately, the large amount of stage time given to the clowns also means fewer gravity-defying acrobatic acts. Four characters representing earth, wind, fire and water dance about the stage as ringmasters of sorts. Such dramatics sometimes add to the exotic atmosphere and mystery of "Dralion," but also go on for too long at other times, leaving the audience wondering when the impressive acts will come out. On the show's first night in Stockton, a "technical" mishap had stagehands out wiping down the stage for some mysterious element that left audience members bewildered. Perhaps whatever was behind the interruption also had to do with why two of the acts shown in the souvenir program never appeared on stage.
But don't worry. No matter how nit picky you may get over a theme that isn't entirely understandable or over a misuse of stage time, it's still Cirque, and Cirque always comes with amazing costumes, sets, music and acrobatics, and if you don't think too hard about the artistic choices behind each Cirque show, you're guaranteed an amazing two and a half hours.
"Dralion" takes some of its inspiration from oriental roots, making for a visually spectacular bamboo poles routine and a fun, but not too impressive Chinese Dragon ball-balancing act. Other acts include trampoline – in which performers seem to walk up walls with no protective restraints – the spinning cross wheel, the aerial hoop, a memorable juggling act, diablos, hoop diving, a beautiful aerial pas de deux and skipping ropes.
Of course, you can never get enough of these breathtaking tricks. That's why Cirque has 11 touring shows and 9 resident shows. And that's why it's worth the price of admission each and every time.
Cirque du Soleil DRALION
Through October 21 at Stockton Arena
November 7-11 at Fresno Save Mart Center