Cirque du Soleil in Shanghai

On Friday night we went to the Cirque du Soleil show Quidam, in their tent next to the Science and Technology Museum in Pudong. The official premier was on Thursday night, but because of work we decided to skip that and go on Friday. It was a great show, and something I can recommend you to go and see. The circus will be in town until August 26, tickets can be booked through

In case you don’t know the Cirque du Soleil, this is a circus troupe originally from Quebec, Canada, that use a combination of live music, acrobatics, juggling, ballet and clowning to create a show that is different from any other circus performance you have ever seen. The show takes place in a traditional circus tent, the yellow and blue striped Grand Chapiteau. The air-conditioned tent can seat about 2500 people, and is connected to two other tents in the back, that are used by the circus artists.

The Quidam show that the Cirque performs in Shanghai, tells the story of a girl whose parents are not very interested in her, and she therefore disappears into an imaginary world. I could not really follow the story beyond this, but that does not really matter, it is one big sequence of top acrobatics and clowns. One highlight is the so-called German Wheel in which an artist rides and at the same time performs stunts. Other highlights include young Chinese girls doing a diabolo show, a group rope jumping session and many trapezium acts high in the sky. The Cirque’s shows are humans only, so no animals like in traditional circuses. Most of the music is performed live by a small orchestra, and is originally composed for the show.

The show was supposed to start at 7:30, but started already a few minutes earlier. Due to the Shanghai traffic jams, many people arrived too late and had to wait about 10 minutes into the show for a short intermezzo before they were allowed in. The first half ended around 8:40. The break lasted about 30 minutes, during which time you could buy many Western food and drink items such as hot dogs and Budweiser beer, but no Chinese food. The only thing Chinese was the popcorn: only the Chinese sweet variety was on sale, and not the original salty popcorn. Considering the tropical temperature outside it was amazing that the Budweiser tent was almost deserted, only a few foreigners ordered a beer. Most of the Chinese audience opted for the cold green tea or a Coca-Cola. I had my first beer in a week there; I had been sick most of the week, and did not feel like a beer earlier.

The second part of the show lasted a bit less than an hour, closing with a finale with all performers on stage. A fantastic show, only slightly spoiled by several Chinese in the audience that thought it necessary to leave a few minutes before the end, in order to get home quicker. This seems to be standard during concerts and other shows in China, and it annoys me. Not only does it show disrespect for the artists, but they also block the view for the rest of the audience. When the show was over we decided to take the subway back into town and catch a taxi there. But close to the subway we suddenly saw two empty taxi’s and so we took a taxi back to Puxi. The metro would have been quicker though, as the Yan’an Lu tunnel was still one big traffic jam at 10:30 PM!

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