Cirque Shanghai Globe of Death

Four motorcylists ride inside this “Globe of Death” at top speeds while the audience holds its breath and hopes for the best. Photo credit: Cirque Shanghai

Cirque Shanghai, the Chinese acrobatic circus, spends summers at Chicago’s Navy Pier and my teens and I have been in the audience for opening night for four years in a row. So when he headed to “Cirque Shanghai: Warriors,” the 2014 version of the show, we were ready for another night of cringe-inducing human contortions and terrifying death-defying stunts.

What we got was less cringe-inducing but still thrilling. This year’s incarnation of Cirque Shanghai did not have so many of the impossible contortionist acts, but it did have new acts that showed off intricate choreography, Chinese weaponry, graceful ballet and human pyramids that stretched to the top of the Pepsi Skyline Stage at Navy Pier. And, of course, the show closed with the same two stunts–Wheel of Destiny and the Globe of Death–that  leave my daughter and I holding on to one another with one eye closed as we wait for the worst to happen.

Cirque Shanghai

These aerial acrobats offer one of the most beautiful performances of the show. Photo credit: Cirque Shanghai

It didn’t help, of course, that this year’s show comes on the heels of the circus accident in Providence, R.I., that left nine performers hospitalized.

But our fears were for naught. The show came off without a hitch, no one got hurt and we had a great time, as always.

What You Need to Know about Cirque Shanghai

The show runs Wednesday-Sunday through Sept. 1. Tickets range from $19.50 to $39.50, but there often are deals available, like this one through Travelzoo. Parking at Navy Pier tacks on another $21 or more. If you’re planning to spend the day at Navy Pier, which can be a pricey endeavor, consider one of the Navy Pier Fun Packages that include tickets to Cirque Shanghai.

The show is at the Pepsi Skyline Stage, which is a covered outdoor venue. Check the forecast before you go. If the winds are whipping off the lake and the air temperature is forecast to be 70 or cooler, it will feel much chillier in the theater with its open sides and cement floor that holds the cold. Dress accordingly.

If you go on a Wednesday or Saturday, plan to stick around after the show for the always fun Navy Pier fireworks display.