Story by Barbara Angelakis
Photos by Manos Angelakis
Cirque Mei from China at Lehman Center
250 Bedford Park Boulevard West
Bronx, New York 10468
Box Office 718.960.8833
The multi-million dollar full restoration of the concert hall at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts located in The Bronx, New York has been completed. Once you stroll down the beautiful flagstone path inscribed with bits of wisdom and poetry toward the campus, you pass the stunning Gothic Revival architecture Leman Collage is known for until the beautiful double story glass façade of the new center comes into view. Although it is a complete modern building surrounded by the heavy stone arches and turrets of the collage buildings, it seems to meld into the campus seamlessly.
As mentioned in a previous review the center hosts artists of all persuasions, but with a heavy emphasis on Hispanic culture. This focus serves the community well while still introducing diverse cultures to the area and at a very affordable cost. For a full listing of coming attractions please visit the Lehman Center web site listed above.
We recently enjoyed a presentation of Chinese acrobats promoted as the Cirque Mei from China. We were particularly excited to see this presentation since Manos - on his last visit to the province of Henan in China - attended a performance of Chinese acrobats from the Jiaozou Acrobatic School. It was fun reliving that experience through the ensemble visiting The Lehman Center, while still noting the differences in presentation. The program Manos attended in China was more on the traditional side while this troupe was more contemporary.
Directly from the People’s Republic of China, the troupe consists of 40 elite young circus artists and acrobats - both male and female – dressed in fantastic costumes and more importantly wearing smiles that seemed to reflect their complete delight in the complicated routines they achieve with almost effortless ease. The company was founded in 1976 and supports a community of over 130 circus performers that tour throughout China and the world. The Chinese are masters of synchronized movement; one can only wonder at the hours and hours of patient practice and concentrated effort it took to achieve such perfection. It is stated, and I quote “one minute on the stage requires 10 years of practice off stage” so intense is the training and timing required.
The acts include many circus routines including Hoops Diving where the hoops get ever higher; the festive, loud and colorful Lion Dance; the women showing their chops on the Collective Bicycle routine; Juggling comedic routine; etc. But for me, the Female Contortionist and her stalwart male companion were truly awesome and elicited gasps of disbelief. It was hard to believe that a human could do what this couple did.
The overall accompanying music had a definite Chinese flavor but it was modernized and upbeat which kept the movement on the stage well-paced and enthusiastic enough to hold the attention of all ages in the audience.
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