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Cirque technology brings imagination to life

  • Story Highlights
  • "KA" is one of 5 permanent Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas
  • The main stage can go up, down, turn 360 degrees, as well as invert vertically
  • Cirque uses technology to assist in telling the story
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By Paul Chase
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LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) -- Cirque du Soleil has been amazing audiences for more than 20 years with its fantastical human circus shows. Las Vegas has become synonymous with Cirque, boasting five shows -- "O," "Mystere," "Zumanity," "Love," and "KA," one of Cirque's most expensive and technological shows to date.


Cirque artists perform on the sand cliff deck.

What makes "KA" so technically challenging are the multiple-moving stages.

"KA," based at the MGM Grand, follows the story of twin brother and sister who are separated from each other and their struggle to reunite. Encompassing a wide range of artistic performances and effects, the brother and sister must overcome a sinking ship, climb a mountain, and battle enemies high above the stage floor.

The most complex and most prominent pieces of technology is the sand cliff stage. The stage can rise up and down, turn 360 degrees in any direction as well as invert vertically. To do this, engineers turned a gantry crane, with its large support system commonly used in shipyards to lift heavy freight, on its side. The stage is supported by two large columns and has a combined weight of 140 tons. Performers are then able to go from walking, to climbing, to flying in seconds. Video Watch the technology of Cirque »

But those behind the curtain insist it's not technology that lends magic to Cirque. It's the trusted natural athleticism and passion of performance that captivates audiences.


"There is a lot of technology but it's there to support the artists," says Keith Wright, technical production manager for "KA." This technology allows the artists to seamlessly transform from scene to scene.

"One of the first places you see it is when two of the artists are performing shadow puppets on it. It's here to support the story, it's here to help the artists tell the story." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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