The Hess Report

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Today we went to see the Incredible Acrobats of China at the Byham downtown, courtesy of a Christmas present from my Dad and Mom. In-freaking-credible. We were in the front row on the entry aisle, such that Maddie actually had to move in her chair when performers entered or exited the stage into the audience in order to let them pass. Of course, we were directly in front of a speaker stack, but improvised tissue earplugs from MacGyver!Joy's purse nullified any hearing loss issues.

The acrobats completely rocked. As you can imagine, they are amazing, and watching them leaves you wondering why exactly some humans can bend themselves into the letter O, backwards, soles of feet cupping their forhead, whilst balancing on one hand, while other humans, like myself, have never been able to properly touch their toes no matter what level of flexibility exercises they may have attempted.

The show was over two hours, and you might think that two hours of acrobatics would grow old, but for me it did not. They do a variety of acts: group balancing, contortion, tumbling, teeter-totter launching, object balancing and tricks, magic, comedy, and some other really crap that no person I know will ever be able to do.

One of the highlights of the show was that Maddie, who was applauding so enthusiasticaly as to make people who didn't know her wonder if she was in need of medication, was chosen as the volunteer for the second Act's audience participation sketch. The M.C. was a silly physical comedy fellow, very funny, who came on stage tossing coins into the air and catching them in a bucket. After, he mugged for applause, although his efforts paled in comparison to the feats we had just seen. Then, he asked for a volunteer. Maddie's hand shot straight up, he pointed to her, and that was it. I think I did an arm-pump and hissed "Yessssss." Lucy squealed "Maddieeeee!"

He had her sit the bucket on her head, pretending that she would have to balance it (which she informs me she could have done, and I also believe), but in the end having her hold it on her head. Her took several steps back and "tossed" a coin into the air. In reality, he just flicked his hand as though he were throwing one, but he palmed it instead. A second later, there was a plink as the coin "landed" in the bucket. He mugged. He threw a few more. Plink plink plink. He moved to the far side of the stage and pretended to toss one high into the air. After a while and some silly puzzled looks, it came back down. Cloink!

Another of the acrobats poke his head from behind the curtain, and showed the audience (but not Maddie) his own bucket in which he was throwing real coins to make the noise. Then, the M.C. began to shoot pretend coins at Maddie's bucket in rapid succession. It ended with the accomplice backing up until he bumped into Maddie, at which point she turned around, and they took her hands and bowed. The audience laughed and applauded and Maddie beamed.

She came back down to us, and the M.C. waved goodbye to her. Lucy, earplugs firmly in place, shouted "Maddie you did so good!" at the top of her lungs.

And she had. And the whole day was good. And later Maddie told me "Dad, I heard the coins hitting behind me. I knew what they were doing."

"Well was it fun?"

No words for that one. Just quick short nods, eyes lit.

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