For my birthday a few years ago Dave surprised me with tickets to Cirque du Soleil and I’ve been hooked ever since. That’s why I was excited to be given tickets to share our honest opinions about Cirque du Soleil Dralion at the Cleveland State University Wolstein Center. It was phenomenal! I wish I had someone sitting beside me counting how many times I said, “Oh…Wow!”

The acts were imaginative, creative, and in true Cirque fashion, unbelievable. We were blown away by the acrobatics, high-flying acts, amazing tricks, and even the humor.

DralionPhoto: Daniel Demarais Costume: François Barbeau © 2011 Cirque du Soleil

Here’s a video promo that gives you a glimpse of the incredible show we saw last night:

The show begins casually with a trio of clowns who interact with the audience in ways that bring big laughs. They polished bald heads, roped off our entire row with Cirque du Soleil style caution tape, staged a mock wedding, and had us howling with other humorous surprises. I haven’t laughed that hard since our last visit to the comedy club!

The clowns were so funny in this opening/warm-up performance that, if you are attending the show, be sure to show up early to ensure you don’t miss it.

The first act was Handbalancing. This woman was amazing!

Cirque du SoleilPhoto: Daniel Desmarais Costume : François Barbeau ©2010 Cirque du Soleil

She does her entire performance on what’s called a cane. It’s basically a stick with the tiniest platform on top. She balanced on one hand while fluidly moving from one contortion to the other. Every time you thought a position was the most difficult of her act, she shifted into something even more implausible. And then she would push herself up and “jump” to switch from one hand to the other. Incredible!

Cirque du Soleil Dralion continued through the night with one astounding performance after another. Dave and I talked after the show and decided that we just couldn’t pick a favorite. They were all so extraordinary in their own ways.

The Trampoline act was unlike anything we had ever seen.

Cirque TrampolinePhoto: Daniel Demarais Costume : François Barbeau © 2011 Cirque du Soleil

Two trampolines sat a good distance from one another in front of a 60-foot-wide wall that rises 26-feet-high. The aerialists not only bounced and flipped from one trampoline to another, which would have been impressive enough, but they dove from the wall and even used it as a landing pad! They would jump up, seem to float, appear to stick to the wall, and then propel themselves off in a series of flips, twists, and turns. I could watch an entire show of just this act. It was stunning and breathtaking!

The Juggling performance was fascinating – at one point in the fast-paced performance the artist juggles 8 balls at once! And not only that, he could balance them on various parts of his body: his forehead, the middle of his arm, the side of his head. The difficulty level was impressive and he made it look so easy which is a real skill in itself.

Aerial Pas de Deux was a spectacular and romantic performance by two artists who float through the air intertwined in flowing blue cloth.

Cirque Pasa de DeuxPhoto: Daniel Demarais Costume: François Barbeau © 2011 Cirque du Soleil

They told a love story through their artistry as they soared over the stage as performed amazing acts of flexibility and strength. I thought this was one of the most beautiful performances of the show.

The Diabalo act was fun and upbeat. The Diablo is a Chinese yo-yo which uses two sticks linked by a string with a wooden spool to spin, throw, toss, and catch.

Cirque DiabaloThe performers could throw the spool perform acrobatic acts and then catch the spool without blinking an eye. I don’t know that I could even keep the spool moving on the string, let along throw it, do a front walkover, catch it, and smile sweetly all the while!

The artist performing the Aerial Hoop act was amazing!

Cirque Aeriel HoopPhoto: Al Seib Costumes: François Barbeau ©2000 Cirque du Soleil

Using incredible strength, flexibility, and agility she performed an aerial ballet from a hoop high above the stage. We could barely believe it when she balanced herself on the hoop with just the back of her neck one minute and then just the top of her foot in another. She ended the act spinning faster than I have ever seen anyone spin!

Hoop Diving was a wonderful act that’s not to be missed.

Cirque du Soleil DralionPhoto: Daniel Demarais Costume: François Barbeau © 2011 Cirque du Soleil

Ten artists hurl themselves through a series of hoops stacked on top of one another. Not only do they dive through the hoops, but they do it in true Cirque fashion – upside-down, flipping before and after, diving from a lower hoop to a higher one, and even throwing one another through the hoops. And as if that’s not difficult enough, at one point in the act the hoops rotate and spin in alternating directions. It was unbelievable!

We also enjoyed Skipping Ropes. I have no idea how these performers do the flips, twists, turns, other acrobatics all the while keeping time with the spinning ropes. I can barely jump rope with a single rope on both feet!

Cirque SkippingPhoto: Daniel Desmarais Costume: François Barbeau

They jumped rope the regular way but inside 3 turning ropes, they jumped while doing handstands, they even made a human pyramid and jumped rope on top of one another and all at once. Amazing!

It was intriguing to watch the Dralions act itself.

Cirque DragonsPhoto: Daniel Demarais Costume: François Barbeau © 2011 Cirque du Soleil

Performers balanced on giant wooden balls. But, of course, they didn’t just stand there because that would be too easy. They walked around the stage on top of the balls, they had other performers who dressed up as two-person dragons climb on to the balls as well, and then they went up and down a see-saw!

In Bamboo Poles, six men balanced tall decorative poles while dancing, twisting, turning, and even flipping and they all kept in time with one another, never missing a cue.

Bamboo PolesPhoto: Daniel Demarais Costume: François Barbeau © 2011 Cirque du Soleil

There was an act that I would have loved to see more of – Kala.

Cirque ClevelandPhoto: Mark Delong Costume: François Barbeau © Cirque du Soleil 2011

It was a performer who would appear on stage in a giant wheel that he spun from the inside all around the stage. It was a beautiful performance that would appear here and there for a minute or two at a time and I was so impressed with it that I would have enjoyed seeing it in a full act.

Throughout the evening the theme of Dralion came through. The show’s name is derived from the dragon which symbolizes the East and the lion, symbolizing the West. Also, the four elements that govern nature play a theatrical role throughout as well. Each element is represented by an artist adorned in it’s evocative color: air is blue, fire is red, water is green, and earth is brown.

Cirque du Soleil Dralion was an astounding, breath-taking show and we were so excited to get the chance to attend for Dave’s birthday. It was a performance that we will always remember and one that we highly recommend.