KÁ (Cirque du Soleil)
at the MGM Grand
The first time I saw KÁ, with a friend, I remarked to him afterward that I was a little uncomfortable about the performers risking their lives for our entertainment. (The stage sometimes rises a few stories, and is perilously tilted.) Two years later, a KÁ performer died during the show; she was 31 and left behind two young children. An investigation said that some equipment failed because she climbed it too quickly, because she hadn't received proper training. Cirque was fined $25k.
But I wound up seeing the show again, because my family wanted to see it. I justified it by the facts that the previous death was the only one in Cirque's 29-year history up to that point (which suggests that performing in a Cirque show is possibly safer than crossing the street), and that I'm sure that Cirque learned from the tragedy and started focusing intently on safety.
So the show: For those who have never seen a Cirque show, suffice it to say that you will almost certainly be amazed, even if you're not a fan of dance. I'm certainly not, and neither is my teenage son (who is sports- and video game-oriented), but we were both impressed. Cirque simply isn't typical dance: the shows feature stunning acrobatics and incredibly inventive sets and movement. That's their hallmark, but to describe KÁ in that way wouldn't do it justice. Then again, nothing I say could do it justice; as the saying goes, "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." KÁ really has to be experienced. But to take a stab at describing it:
- Like most Cirque shows, it's a 3D experience. The show isn't just horizontal, it's vertical. And performers often parade down the aisles, and do their things from the balconies as well. Thus, even the cheap seats afford an excellent view; there's no need to be right up front. In fact, if you are, it's harder to see the things that don't take place on the main stage.
- There's absolutely no dialogue. The story is told entirely through silent movement.
- It's about fictional peoples. Best I could describe them would be that they incorporate the aura of African, Native American, and Asian, and pre-Renaissance Europeans.
- The music is just as good as the dance. It's basically one long piece broken up into different movements. It features lots of primitive-sounding percussion, and the sound quality is excellent; there are speakers in the seating, too, for added effect. The music is performed by live musicians, though that might not be apparent, which is why I point it out. It would probably be impossible to synchronize the dancing with prerecorded music, so live performers makes sense, and makes the experience more special besides.
- The stage not only rotates, it rises, up to several stories, and sometimes tilts to almost vertical. The battle on the vertical wall was inspired.
- Cirque describes the show as family-friendly. There's no nudity, and no profanity (since there's no dialogue at all), though there are a fair number of fights depicted.
- KÁ plays Saturday through Wednesday (off on Thursday & Friday). Showtimes are 7pm and 9:30pm.
- Expect to pay about $90 per ticket, including taxes and fees. The discount ticket outlets often have discounted tickets, but you have to by in person, and sometimes their prices are higher than the box office, because sometimes the discount outlets sell only the pricier seats. You can buy direct from the MGM Grand website. The Cirque website advertises $69 tickets, but I've never been able to actually find tickets at that price on their website.