Seventy-five minutes is a long time to sit still when you're a little kid, but Cirque Shanghai: Dragon's Thunder has enough action to keep even the most fidgety spellbound, plus a lot of "amazing" for everyone else in your family.
During a recent show at Navy Pier's Skyline Stage, there were moments when we wondered if the pounding in our chests was from the Chinese dragon drums incorporated for the first time ever in a North American Cirque Shanghai show or out of fear for the frightening stunts by these performers from China. It was probably a little of both.
Infused with the beauty of the ballet and traditional dance and Chinese music, this year's show ramps up the entertainment and thrills from previous years.
Among our favorite acts is the Chinese Flex Bar and the Globe of Death with five motorcyclists (including a woman!) speeding insanely inside a giant steel globe. The comedy bowl kicker and his audience member assistant are so corny it is funny and the Pas De Deux Contortion skates the edge of risqué and family friendly just enough to make mom and dad take a deep breath.
Kids will especially enjoy the hoop diving, Rolla Bolla where a young acrobat performs his acrobatics on colorful cans, and the Gravity Swings, where daredevils play to the crowd and defy gravity in what looks like two giant silver hamster wheels.
There isn't an intermission so get your snacks and use the bathroom before the show. You won't want to miss a single minute of it.
If you have seen Cirque Shanghai in the past, see it again this year. If this is your first time, get your tickets now. You won't be disappointed. Be prepared, though, for your kids to ask for colorful mohawks because that's what the cool performers are sporting this year.
Tip: If you attend the last show of the night Wednesday nights and Saturday nights, you can catch the fireworks as you leave. A perfect cap to a fantastical trip to another country.
Tamara is the editor of Chicago Parent and mom of three.
See more of Tamara's stories here.