FORT WORTH -- It was an extremely "moving" show.
There was not a lion or tiger or bear to be found (oh my!) in Cirque Chinois, the brilliantly costumed extravaganza of acrobats, tumblers and contortionists that bounced through Bass Hall on Wednesday night. So, even though there was plenty of spectacle and athletic razzle-dazzle, it was not really a circus.
Instead, this Performing Arts Fort Worth one-night-only presentation was really more about movement than sawdust and elephants.
That is not to say there was any lack of feats of strength, balance and agility. The performers, who come to us from China, were frequently astonishing as they tossed one another into the air, did handstands on bicycles, spun plates, juggled hats and swung from long ropes and strips of cloth that propelled them high above the stage.
There were also a couple of segments devoted to amazing sleight-of-hand magic tricks and a clown who had no business doing the knife-throwing act (which owed a major debt to a classic Johnny Carson clip, by the way).
But as enthralling (and often jaw-dropping) as their actions were, this show was ultimately more about the movement and choreography employed by the artists than displays of physical strength and daring.
In one of the early segments, for example, nine female contortionists sailed about the stage for a while before stacking themselves into human towers. But rather than being compelling because they were literally bending over backwards to entertain the crowd of about 800, the lasting impression was of the shape and size of the structures they built with their bodies.
In the segment involving men jumping through hoops, the movements they made to get to the hoops and those they made when they cleared them were even more impressive than the jumps themselves. Every sweep of an arm or bend of a knee was carefully choreographed and still more carefully executed.
Not all of the acts were worth the time. And the recorded, New Agey, synth-pop soundtrack added little.
But most of the evening of entertainment worked exceedingly well. It was always great to look at, even when the performers were not doing anything particularly skillful. And it also smelled a lot better than most circuses.