Tragedy can't dim indomitable spirit in 'Ka'


I saw “Ka” again Tuesday under circumstances nobody wanted, but no tragedy could take away what I would describe as the limitless feeling it still inspires.

Tuesday was the first public performance since Sarah Guillot-Guyard fell to her death on June 30. Cirque du Soleil has always been one big family, though it has grown much larger since the early ’90s, when “Mystere” performers were isolated by language and cultural barriers.

Asked about the backstage mood in the hours leading to the reopening of “Ka,” Cirque’s veteran publicist, the Montreal-based Renee-Claude Menard, answered with a sort of free-form word association: “Inspiring, touching, supportive, amazing, the true spirit of what a family’s about.”

Many of those words describe “Ka” itself, which in many ways still stands as an achievement Cirque may never top.

You could dwell on what was missing, and why. The operatic Cirque now skips past the epic battle scene that concludes its sketch of a story, until investigators determine exactly what caused the accident.

That’s simply the way it has to be, even if you watch the rest of the show and wonder why other scenes remain with performers suspended 90 feet in the air, or slip-sliding along the same vertical cliff wall used in the now-missing battle.

Nothing else has changed, from a preshow joke — a guy getting thrown into the “pit” — or the scene where warriors pursuing some of the main characters fall into the same abyss.

If all the sensitivity was all aesthetic — trying to remove any visual reminders of Guillot-Guyard’s horrible fall — rather than a practical step confined to the safety of one segment, the entire show would have to stay closed.

And that’s a testament to just how dangerous this and other Cirque titles are to perform every single night.

“Zumanity” performers have been seriously injured in the past. But the stage height is smaller and the emphasis is on comedy, so audiences don’t watch with the same sense of danger.

“Ka” remains a big, bold statement by a company that, in 2004, thought anything was possible. It is a bit hobbled now, fast-forwarding past one of its most spectacular numbers. But enough of that feeling still remains that everyone involved in sustaining it should feel proud.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.