Last week, I literally ripped out the full-page ad for Cirque de Soleil: Dralion in hopes that my husband would see it and maybe get tickets since this was once our thing (pre-kids/pre-burbs). Every year we would splurge on tickets for Cirque under the big top in Fells Point. The show just absolutely mesmerized me the first time I saw it — and every time since.

So when the opportunity to obtain media passes and write a feature for (cool) progeny came to my inbox, I think my reply was being typed before I even finished reading the request!

A date night with my 6-year-old daughter sounded like the perfect evening before she started school next week…and perfect it WAS!

Back track a few years ago:  I decided as a Mom I was going to stop giving my kids traditional gifts for special occasions (toys to add to their pile of toys they don’t play with, clothes they beg for but refuse to actually wear – – you know where I’m going with this), and I would give them the gift of an experience. Since then I’ve had many Mother-Daughter dates with my Julia. We’ve done the countless Disney on Ices, a day at the art museum, The Lion King at the Hippodrome (amazing!) and, most recently, the American Idol Concert. I have to say that our date to Dralion is now at the very top of the list – right up there with the Lion King. A must-see experience!

The acts in Dralion are none like you’ve ever seen. The talent is beyond what you can imagine, the costumes are exquisite, and the music and orchestra are enchanting – you feel like you are watching a Broadway production, a ballet, a circus, a thrill show, a symphony, and an opera all at once.

It was an absolutely pleasure from start to finish. Honestly the perfect family treat!

Below are thoughts from a six year old and her mom:

The show: Dralion
MESMERIZING. BREATHTAKING. INCREDIBLE. POWERFUL. Words can’t describe. There is something wonderful when you get to see the shear enjoyment and amazement on your child’s face – this is one of those moments!

Our favorite acts
The clowns
– four (not your traditional) circus clowns warmed the crowd up at the start of the show and in between acts. Definitely hysterical and had Julia is stitches. She was still laughing about their shticks after we got home.

The trampoline – words can’t even describe how cool this was! Think trampoline jumping 60+ feet in the air/walking up walls/diving board/anti-gravity.

Ariel pas de deux – this one was a bit passionate! Julia even asked me if they were going to kiss. (They may have!)  The couple flew over the stage in a long band of cloth. So elegant and graceful, truly amazing!

Hoop diving – ok, this group of Chinese acrobrats jumped around perfectly choreographed to awesome African-influenced music. They would just run and throw themselves through small hoops stacked in the air. They were like little tumbling jumping beans. Totally astonishing.

Quotes from a 6-year old
How is that even possible?” (picture a lady upside down 100 feet in the air); “This is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen!” (not even 10 minutes into the show); “Mom, aren’t you obsessed with this?” (Yes actually I totally am!); “This is most incredible thing that’s ever happened to me!” (I’m not even kidding, she totally said that!); “He was the funniest guy on whole entire planet” (re: the French clown);  “Ok, goodnight mom.” (in the car after recounting every detail she saw during the show).

The Scene
I was bracing for the worst (I’d been there for Disney on Ice and most recently American Idol) – so, if you are picturing the typical packed arena / chaos/wishing you had a leash for your child – then have no fear, this is NOT that scene. Picture the perfect after-work crowd, empty-nesters, and families with young kids and teens. People dressed up for a night out on the town and the arena was void of junky toys that light up or those that are filled with sugar covered ice (my personal favorite part of the evening). My child didn’t even whine for something. It was like we were on another planet all together.

The Venue
Ok I was a sucker for seeing Cirque under the big top – still nothing can quite compare to the ambiance it created and the feeling you were transported somewhere else entirely. Let’s face it, 1st Mariner has seen better days but it truly was lovely and had a nice cozy feel tonight. I think all in all, when you see Cirque it doesn’t quite matter where you are – it’s amazing no matter what.

I’ve made this mistake before and I wasn’t about to do it again (picture trying to get out of the arena garage for 50 minutes, not fun!) if you don’t mind a little bit of a walk – I strongly recommend one of the garage’s across from the Hippodrome (Fayette and Eutaw Streetts). We were one of 3 cars when we left, only cost $13 and I was back in Lutherville in 20 minutes (way better!)

I’ll be honest – the concessions at 1st Mariner need to totally be revamped – not great choices or quality. We ate at home and got a drink and snack (mostly because my daughter likes to get something for the sake of getting something). Best part? When Julia dropped her $5.50 fries, the concessions attendant gave her a whole new one. I especially LOVED that this particular show did not have the typical cotton candy and snow cones on every corner.  It was nice going to a family-friendly event with a more sophisticated feel and without all of the junk that is usually thrown at parents and sets us up for major whining & tantrums.

Age appropriateness
I absolutely thought my daughter was a the perfect age for this show – she’s a mature 6 and was absolutely delighted and engaged from start to finish. I saw mostly her age and older at the show. I don’t think you could have paid me to take my wild 3-year old to the show, but the lady we met in the bathroom said her 3-year old son was amazing and absolutely loved it. So you have to just know your kids!

This is just perfect for…
Adate night with one of your older children, family night out, date night with parents and oldest sibling (our daughter loves when we do these, it gives her time with just mommy & daddy and doing an activity that is suited for her and not our toddler). It’s not for letting grandma take the kids without you! (I’m all for that in most cases —  but this isn’t one of them!). This is a do-not-miss kind event – so make it a family event for sure.

Biggest regret?
Not splurging on the $20 program + DVD combo (well, maybe not a huge regret since it was seriously overpriced). I actually think it would have been really interesting to read about the performers and learn about the different acts. I also think my 3-year old would absolutely love watching the DVD and I would love letting him see it from the couch . I’m totally going to be checking Amazon as soon as I’m finished writing this review!

One more regret..
If I hadn’t been scrambling at the end of the day to finish work, pick up the 3 year old, rush home, make dinner, wait for babysitter and rush downtown – – I would have made this more of an evening. Think fun dinner downtown somewhere before the show. I love the opportunity to have my kids experience the city since its so near and dear to me.

Whenever my dad goes to the theatre to see a play or a movie he rates it by saying ‘two lids up’ if he was able to stay away awake. So, my rating for Dralion would have to be ‘two lids wide open in amazement/head shaking in wonder/jaw wide open/grinning from ear to ear/the perfect night with my little girl’.


Tickets are still on sale and the show runs through Aug. 26th. MORE INFO


Show Photos:  Daniel Demarais
Costume: Francois Barbeau © 2011 Cirque du Soleil