AHM Recommends: Cirque du Soleil’s “KÀ” at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas

Cirque du Soleil’s KÀ makes Las Vegas a perfect family destination.

"KA" By Cirque du Soleil at The MGM Grande Hotel -Las Vegas - Nevada - USA - Show Name Announcement September 15, 2004 Photos By Denise Truscello

Summer is weird for our family. My husband teaches summer school. We spend 3 weeks in CT visiting family. Mom is a PTA president. One kid has soccer camp. It’s busy, and there’s no routine.

The only time we were all unscheduled was a week at the end of June, so we asked the kids if they’d like to take a family trip somewhere. Of course they said yes. So where do you want to go?

“VEGAS!” they both said, without hesitation.

That might seem like a strange destination choice for 8 and 10-year-old boys. But 2 years ago we took a family trip to Las Vegas and had a wonderful time, so it did make sense for us. The key is to avoid the Strip, unless you’re going to a Cirque du Soleil show.

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Cirque du Soleil has always been an amazing spectacle. There isn’t one second in any show that you’re not dazzled by the incredible strength, creativity, and bravery of the performers and creators. For this trip we chose KÀ, “a gravity-defying production featuring
a powerfully emotive soundtrack that enhances the innovative blend of acrobatic feats, Capoeira, puppetry, projections and martial arts.”

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The story of KÀ is that an evil band of captors invades an empire and kidnaps the royal children, separating them. The survivors wander the lands, and the children try to find each other. Simple, really, but in the hands of Cirque’s imaginative puppet masters, the story unfolds in a spectacle of vertical acrobatics, as an enormous platform rises from the stage and faces the audience. Its surface changes from water to moonscape to beach sand to polar wasteland.

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The story has a creepier underside, which is lost on the kids, and even the adults until you read the printed PR materials. “KÀ” is the fire of life, which the bad guys in the show seek to create by grinding the bones of captives. There is one dark performer, the lead bad guy, who looks like Criss Angel (star of a different Cirque show) and seems very delighted by the suffering of others. His presence on stage is captivating, and even though he was the bad guy, my kids loved watching him. “The creepy guy,” they said, was their favorite part.

TSCCreepiest bad guy to the left

Every scene in KÀ is a wonderment of powerful dance and acrobatics combined with incredible technology. The projections that make you believe a character is falling through the ocean are controlled by infrared sensors that react to performers’ movements.

Forest Duet 01AJerry MetellusThe Forest King saves the girl as she falls through the trees

The vertical and aerial final battle scene is made possible by winches controlled by remote controls in the performers’ costumes. A flying machine emerges from high up at the top of the stage area, seemingly created out of animal hides and wood, but capably carrying several performers over the audience’s heads.

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As usual, your experience begins the moment you set foot over the theater’s threshold. Located at the back of the massive MGM Grand, the KÀ theater is guarded by a giant colorful dragon.

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Greeters, in costume and in character, lead you to your seat and provide your children with boosters so they can see if they are too short. Don’t try to take pictures with your cell phone, though. In an entertaining PSA, performers come out to the audience before the show begins and bust a guy in the front row for snapping photos with his phone. First they take his phone and throw it into the pit. Then they take the guy and throw him into the pit.

We got the message, which is why almost all of photos in this post are courtesy of Cirque du Soleil.

The theater itself is a marvel. As you walk in, you feel like you are boarding a ship. Scaffolding and balconies climb the walls, promising dozens of performers swinging from their heights during the show. Indeed, acrobats dressed as tribesmen and women swing out over your seat, caterwauling in a strange language, calling to each other.

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From the beginning to the pyrotechnic end, this show commands your complete attention. We happened to attend the 5,000th performance of KÀ – the greeters handed each of us a commemorative luggage tag – an astounding track record for such a complicated feat of human performance and technical mastery.

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KÀ is truly worth traveling to Vegas for. We stayed at Tahiti Village, a time share resort off the Strip, where you can take a free shuttle to Tropicana and then cross over to MGM Grand using the bridge over the street. Keep the kids close as you travel through the casino to KÀ Theater, because they are not allowed off the thoroughfare into the slot machines or table areas. And people still smoke in casinos, so you might want to zip through as quickly as you can. Bathrooms are just to the right of the theater, and you can purchase snacks and drinks and bring them in.

Cirque du Soleil’s KÀ
at MGM Grand
3799 S. Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89109
7:00 pm and 9:30 pm Saturday through Wednesday.
Tickets $34.50 – $180 plus tax
Children under 5 are free (but I wouldn’t recommend it – loud and scary at times)
www.ka.com

My family attended KÀ as guests of Cirque du Soleil to facilitate this feature. All opinions are mine or my family’s.