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Thread: Cirque du Soleil's "KA"

  1. #1

    Cirque du Soleil's "KA"

    Regarding our debate about entertainment vs. true martial arts --

    I am wondering what the members of this forum think about "KA".

    Obviously, it's a stage show and everything is choreographed. No one is really fighting and many of the performers have dance backgrounds.

    Also, there's a lot of stunt and wire work.

    "KA" has it's roots in Chinese Opera, where Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung got their starts.

    Does a show like "KA" deserve mention in a serious discussion about martial arts?
    Last edited by tonylaudati; 01-20-2007 at 06:39 PM.

  2. #2
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    Sure it does Tony

    in one of my previous posts, I mentioned how many in China have recently come to describe the Chinese Martial Arts as having Three Distinct Pillars; 1) Traditional, 2) Sport / Performance & 3) Health

    Now not all in this forum may agree with this notion but essentially it is that the Chinese Martial Arts have evolved & broadened in scope and now as mentioned encompasses Three Distinct Pillars; 1) Tradition - refers to the Traditional Chinese Martial Arts which while broad in term revolves around the development of fighting techniques & skills, the physical attributes to do those skills and the principles & sciences of the particular style. It also encompasses things such as preservation of traditional folk systems & cultural attributes of those styles. 2) Sport / Performance - is in reference to the current sports of Modern Wushu (the performing of routines {taolu} barehnd or with weapons) and San Shou, essentially the Chinese version of competitive Full Contact figthing. This category could also encompass CMA as a performance art. 3) Health - is in reference to the health giving practices of CMA, primarily Tai Chi, Internal Arts & Qigong.

    Now these are only broad strokes nonetheless it is becoming something of the norm of thinking within CMA circles within China and is spreading to other such circles outside of China. Now it is normal that some may not view one of those Pillars of CMA as being significant as their own area of specialization but this is normal in all aspects of human endeavour be it art, sport, physical culture, music, etc....

    Something such as Ka is a new and certainly valid pursuit for martial artists (particularily performance oriented ones). It should be noted that the show while be comprised of not only martial artists but also dancers & acrobats and such, those martial artists are in the show are some of the finest in the world. Former Beijing Wushu Team members Jian Zeng Xiao & He Jing De were part of the cast, as was his He's wife (who's name escapes me), she was a former member of the Hong Kong Wushu Team. Top American Wushu competitors Rory Bratter, the Haght sisters Jennifer & Sheri are on the cast. Several top Capoeria persons & Chinese Opera persons have also taken part in the show.

    For some shows of this nature are not to everyone's taste but with the arrival of other top flight shows such as 'Shaolin Wheel of Life', 'Chun Yi - the Legend of Kung Fu', 'Terracotta Warriors', not to mention the very artistic, colorful & elaborately choreographed movies coming out of China (Curse of the Golden Flower, Dragon Tige Gate, House of Flying Daggers, etc...) and so on this is becoming a big part of the Chinese Martial Arts landscape!


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    Martial arts in live theater

    I've always been a huge advocate of martial arts in live theater and fully endorse this as a dynamic expression of modern wushu. We did a lot of work with KA helping Cirque scout talent, so much so I got invited to the premiere. Check out my old e-zien article - Shaolin Trips: Episode 4 - A Hero Watching the Formation: Epilogue: My Master's Pilgrimage to Gold Mountain and the Bu Hao Mao.
    Gene Ching
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    Speaking of Cirque

    The Haight sisters will be featured in the S.F. Chinese New Year parade.
    Chinese New Year
    Imperial Twins Duo will be among the star attractions at San Francisco's annual parade
    Reyhan Harmanci

    Thursday, March 1, 2007

    The Haight sisters aren't twins but you would be forgiven for mistaking them as such -- and not only because they play the Imperial Twins, a brother and sister team, in Cirque du Soleil's "KA'' show in Las Vegas. They finish each other's sentences. They anticipate questions. They look shockingly similar. And, like many twins, they are interested in showing how different they can be.

    In fact, when they are describing the parts they play in the show, it's unclear where the character stops and the sister begins.

    "She's very happy-go-lucky, she knows how to have fun. But she's very serious around her parents," says Jennifer, 20, the younger sister with dyed red hair. "She has a big heart. Certain characters might be scary but she doesn't see them like that, she sees them differently."

    "Twin brother is more serious, responsible," says Cheri, 23, with blond hair. "But he knows how to have fun when the parents aren't looking."

    "It's part of the ying/yang theme," chimes in Jennifer. "They balance each other out."

    The sisters will be appearing as part of the San Francisco Chinese New Year parade Saturday, showing off their impressive martial art skills before the parade with a number of other "KA'' performers. This won't actually be the first time the East Bay natives have appeared in the parade, but they say this year is special.

    The sisters, who were born in Oakland and grew up in the Bay Area, are experts in Wushu, a martial arts form that Sheri describes as "kung fu made pretty." They won many national competitions and made it onto the national team before a photo shoot with Kung Fu magazine caught the attention of Cirque du Soleil producers, who were looking for performers in a new Asian-themed show.

    "KA" is the first Cirque du Soleil production to have a story line -- which meant that the Haight sisters had to learn how to act on top of maneuvering on a stage that, at one point, moves from horizontal to vertical. The whole show is built less on a stage than on a void -- it's a 15-story drop from the top to the bottom. (The staging of "KA'' ran up Hollywood costs -- $165 million -- with a guaranteed 10-year run).

    Learning how to inject emotion into a physical performance has been a highlight for both women. "In competition, it was about scoring. There was no direct contact with the judges," Sheri says. "This is different because there is a huge range of emotions -- anger, happiness, sadness -- and you have to connect with the audience. It feels really good. I get a lot of enjoyment from that connection."

    After two years of "KA," the sisters don't cop to show-time jitters. They are ready for their return to the streets of Chinatown as stars. After all, as Sheri says, "We love roller-coasters."

    The Haight sisters will put on a show before the 2007 Chinese New Year Parade. Festivities start at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Market and Second Streets, S.F. Tickets and information can be found at www.chineseparade.com.
    Gene Ching
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    I can't beleive I've never used this pun for a title...

    I wrote an article with Woody Wong on Jingde in our 2003 January/February issue Blazin' Wushu!
    China's Ballistic Champion, He Jingde

    Do you Wushu were here?
    April 23, 2009

    A legendary ‘Wushu’ expert was in Reading to teach trainee martial arts experts the tricks of the trade.

    He Jing De, formerly a member of Cirque de Solei, teaches martial arts in LA. He led a workshop at Loddon Valley Leisure Centre last Saturday and Sunday.

    He is believed to be one of the leading experts in ‘Wushu’ – the Chinese martial art made popular by film star Jet Lee.

    Nearly 40 trainees, including young people from Imperial College in London and students from Belgium, as well as members of the Chen Wu Kuan club that meets at the Loddon Valley Leisure Centre in Rushey Way, attended.

    Graeme Healy, a member of the British Wushu team and Chen Wu Kuan, organised the event by emailing his childhood hero and inviting him to England.

    Mr Healy said: “He has been my hero since I was 13. He is widely recognised as one of the best in Wushu in the world. I invited He Jing De to get more students involved and grow the sport a little bit.”

    A national tournament is due to take place at the Leisure Centre on June 27.
    Gene Ching
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    NYC CNY parade

    KA doing the CNY parade circuit (if you can call a 4 year gap between this and the SF CNY parade a circuit )
    Cirque Du Soleil's KĄ to Perform at NYC's Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade
    By: Dan Bacalzo · Jan 26, 2011 · New York


    The Imperial Twins from KĄ

    Seven performers from the resident production of Cirque du Soleil's KĄ, at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, will participate in the 2011 Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade in New York City on Sunday, February 6. The parade will kick off at 1pm, with the KĄ performance to be held at Sarah Roosevelt Park (near Grand & Forsyth streets) at approximately 2:30pm.

    Created and directed by Robert Lepage, KĄ is a gravity-defying production featuring an innovative blend of high-flying feats, puppetry, projections and martial arts.

    The show's central characters -- the Imperial Twins -- will also march in the parade. The four-minute performance will feature a combination of martial arts including Wushu, Chinese Opera and Capoeira.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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    Jian Zengjiao

    Chinese martial art instructors guide their Las Vegas students with gentle, flexible hands
    By JESSICA FRYMAN
    VIEW STAFF WRITER
    Posted: Aug. 16, 2011 | 12:17 a.m.

    In a fast-powered flip, Jian ZengJiao (also known as JJ) lands in a booming smash to the floor right on his back. It's no accident -- the trick is part of the Spring Valley resident's wushu routines. Spears slice the air, ****zing as he performs a fighting match. His wife bends her body in unbelievable forms, contorting to poses that make most audiences grimace.

    The couple, who are performers in "KA," the Cirque du Soleil show at the MGM Grand, also teach their skills to kids of all ages at their recently expanded Spring Valley school, Las Vegas Modern Kung Fu, 4050 Vanessa Drive. In the heart of Chinatown, the school offers technical teachings backed by cultural understanding.

    Contortion, or unusual and dramatic bending of the human body, requires strength and natural flexibility or training from a young age. Wushu is a traditional Chinese martial arts style that features difficult high jumps, low stunts, speed tricks and more balance and power than other forms of martial arts.

    "There is so much cultural, practical application," said ZengJiao, who started wushu training in China at age 8.

    As part of the Beijing Wushu Team, he trained under Wu Bin, who also coached actor Jet Li.

    ZengJiao also has had his share of on-screen performances. He was an assistant choreographer and stunt double in "Warriors of Virtue " and has performed on various television shows, including "America's Got Talent" and "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." He holds six individual championship titles in Chinese wushu competitions and was the 1999 World Wushu Champion.

    "Honestly, my coach in China was 10 to 100 times tougher," ZengJiao said with a laugh. "But my training here is good."

    His wife, Altanzul Ulambayar (also known as Zula), trained under strict coaches in Mongolia.

    ZengJiao said he understands the patience that comes with teaching children in a culture not as disciplined as the Chinese. Although he is not as strict as his coach, ZengJiao said his students perform at a competitive level and possess strong skills in the sport.

    "In China culture, you teach as a father. You are tough but you also show love," he said. "I believe they love me and Zula, and we love them, too. Seeing their improvement is my biggest happiness."

    Elise Aguirre, 14, started training with ZengJiao at the school about two years ago and said she has learned everything from acrobatics to acting in her wushu courses.

    "Not only is he a hard-working instructor, but he's family to us. He treats us with respect," she said. "I wouldn't trade him for anything else."

    Sixteen-year-old twins Pualani and Leilani Wong said they had seen the Cirque du Soleil shows in town, as their father works at "KA," and they always wished they could bend like the actors in the shows. Naturally flexible and strong from gymnastics, they decided to take contortion lessons from their father's coworkers at Las Vegas Modern Kung Fu.

    "I always wanted to do it but didn't think I could," said Pualani, who can pull her legs over her head while lying on her stomach, touching her toes to the floor. "But sometimes you do just have to suck it up. Some of the stretches hurt. It's not as bad once you do it more."

    She said she is working on placing her feet flat on the ground over her head but isn't quite there yet.

    The classes have inspired many of the students to consider performance careers of their own.

    The Wong twins attend West Career and Technical Academy for physical therapy and veterinary instruction but said they love being on stage and would want to be in a Cirque show if the opportunity presents itself . For Aguirre, wushu has surprisingly stolen her heart, and she said she plans to pursue the sport professionally.

    The girls' first choice: roles alongside their coaches in "KA."
    That reminds me. I saw He Jingde at the Shaolin Summit. He's got a big project in the works. Hopefully we'll hear more about it from him soon.
    Gene Ching
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    KA closes

    First fatality for Cirque

    Cirque du Soleil performer killed in Las Vegas show
    By Matt Smith, CNN
    updated 9:08 AM EDT, Mon July 1, 2013


    In a November 2008 performance, Sarah Guillot-Guyard , left, and Sami Tiaumassi play "Forest People" during Cirque du Soleil's "Ka" at MGM Grand Resort in Las Vegas. Guillot-Guyard, 31, who was part of the original show cast, fell during the show finale on Saturday, June 29, and was pronounced dead shortly after. In a November 2008 performance, Sarah Guillot-Guyard , left, and Sami Tiaumassi play "Forest People" during Cirque du Soleil's "Ka" at MGM Grand Resort in Las Vegas. Guillot-Guyard, 31, who was part of the original show cast, fell during the show finale on Saturday, June 29, and was pronounced dead shortly after.

    (CNN) -- A performer from Cirque du Soleil died in a weekend accident during a show at a Las Vegas casino, authorities said Sunday.

    The performer, 31-year-old Sarah Guillot-Guyard, was pronounced dead shortly before midnight Saturday, the Clark County, Nevada, medical examiner's office told CNN. The cause of death had not been determined Sunday afternoon.

    The accident happened during the show's finale, said Cirque Du Soleil spokeswoman Renee-Claude Menard. During the scene, performers are suspended up to 50 feet in the air on lines controlled by wireless remote controls, according to the troupe's website.

    Guillot-Guyard "was being hoisted up the side of the stage and then just plummeted down," witness Dan Mosqueda told the Las Vegas Sun newspaper.

    "Initially, a lot of people in the audience thought it was part of the choreographed fight. But you could hear screaming, then groaning, and we could hear a female artist crying from the stage."

    Guillot-Guyard was born in Paris, specialized as an acrobat and aerialist and had performed for more than 20 years, according to a website for Cirquefit, which describes itself as a circus and fitness program for kids.

    She taught classes through that program. Parents of some of her students left messages on the group's Facebook page remembering Guillot-Guyard.

    "No words. My boys loved every moment in Miss Sarah's class. Deepest sympathies to her loved ones," wrote one.

    "We will miss her terribly! She was an amazing teacher!" wrote another.

    Guillot-Guyard, nicknamed "Sassoon," was part of the original cast of "Ka," the long-running Cirque du Soleil show at the MGM Grand hotel and casino, Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté said in a statement issued Sunday.

    The show has been canceled indefinitely, and the company is "working with the appropriate authorities and have offered our full cooperation," Laliberté said.

    Cirque du Soleil star battles shoulder injuries

    "We are reminded, with great humility and respect, how extraordinary our artists are each and every night. Our focus now is to support each other as a family, " he added.

    The title of the show comes from an ancient Egyptian belief in the "ka," a spiritual copy of the body that's with people in this life and the next, according to the company.

    Cirque du Soleil, which translates as "Circus of the Sun" from French, is headquartered in Montreal. It was founded in 1984.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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    So sad! Saw this show a few years back.
    "The true meaning of a given movement in a form is not its application, but rather the unlimited potential of the mind to provide muscular and skeletal support for that movement." Gregory Fong

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    Cirque du Soleil files for bankruptcy and cuts 3,500 jobs
    CNN Digital Expansion 2016
    Jordan Valinsky
    By Jordan Valinsky, CNN Business

    Updated 1901 GMT (0301 HKT) June 29, 2020

    New York (CNN Business)
    Cirque du Soleil, the producer of a number of Las Vegas acrobatic shows, has filed for bankruptcy.

    In an announcement Monday, the Montreal-based company blamed its bankruptcy on the "immense disruption and forced show closures as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic" and is aiming to restructure its debt with assistance from the Canadian government and private equity firms.
    The filing comes three months after it temporarily suspended production of its shows, including six in Las Vegas. It also has about 10 shows on tour across the world, including "O," "Michael Jackson One," and "The Beatles LOVE."
    Cirque entered a "stalking horse" bid from its largest backers, including a mix of multinational private equity firms from the United States, China and Canada for $420 million. That offer is intended to be a starting point in an auction to draw other bidders.
    The company has also received $300 million in fresh funding to "support a successful restart, provide relief for Cirque du Soleil's affected employees and partners, and assume certain of the company's outstanding liabilities," it said in the release.
    Cirque is drowning in nearly $1 billion in debt, according to multiple reports. That's becoming increasingly untenable as its productions remain suspended. To help stem the financial loss, Cirque has laid off roughly 3,500 employees.
    "For the past 36 years, Cirque du Soleil has been a highly successful and profitable organization," said Daniel Lamarre, CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group in a release. "However, with zero revenues since the forced closure of all of our shows due to Covid-19, management had to act decisively to protect the company's future."
    Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the stalking horse bid amount.
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