Costumes & Characters
"I had to come up with thousands of props to reflect the ambiguity of the
time and place of the story. Our task was to create a new world, to invent a
civilization." — Patricia Ruel, Props Designer
The characters of KĄ inhabit a world of many tribes and factions. These
tribes are largely segregated from each other and some tribes are in conflict
with others. The story of KĄ brings together the different peoples of this
world to meet their collective destiny.
Seventy specialists worked more than 35,000 hours to produce the first full set
of KĄ costumes at the Cirque du Soleil headquarters in Montreal. The creators got
their inspiration from the visual iconography found in Asia, as reflected in the
lavish costumes of the imperial court, and the fearsome uniforms of the martial
art warriors. For their coronation ceremony, the twins wear their very best silk
outfits, inspired by orientalist painters, their costumes are reminiscent of Japan,
Korea, and India. For the courtiers' intricately detailed majestic dresses, noble
fabrics were used, such as sheer silk and sparkling brocades that one would expect
to see at the most lavish of operas. The color palate includes milky white, dark red,
and bright ochre tones that blend perfectly with the natural leather and unbleached
The forest people characters evoke puppet-like creatures. Their headdresses are
inspired by African ceremonies and rites. (There are 15 wigs used in the show, and one
Forest hat takes 40 hours to make.) The scars on their skin are a throwback to the
ritual marking of Maasai warriors. The craftspeople at Cirque came up with a technique
that consists in printing an image of the artist's muscle definition on their flamboyant
bright blue leotards.
Make-up is just as important; it can take from 45 minutes to two hours to complete.
And there are three make-up technicians who airbrush the faces of artists
for each performance. Many artists glue Austrian crystals to their faces as part of
their make-up. But the Chief Archer character has the most complex make-up application,
with 43 steps and 22 different brushes!
Relentless pursuers, the Archers, are inspired by the Japanese art of archery. The
tattoos of these hard warrior people are printed on Tactel, a stretchy and breathable
nylon created especially for intense sports. The fabric is the same color as the
artist's skin, making the tattoos look incredibly real. (There are six different body
tattoo designs on the unitards worn by the Archers and Spearmen.) The Spearmen's shoes
give the impression that the characters are barefoot; molded rubber toes are attached
to the soles. (There are approximately 400 pairs of shoes for the artists.)
The counselor's son is the most contemporary character of the KA universe. Tattooing
is an ancestral art form of the East and it is used to expose the intensity of this
character, who is as cruel as he is dangerous. A ripped piece of kilt is superimposed
on his costume to show the punk side of this formidable warrior. It is a pleated piece
of cloth that is colored using "shibori", a Japanese tie-dyeing technique.
The Empire is a noble, proud and peaceful society
which represents the pinnacle of civilization in the world of KĄ.
The Empire is the height of art, culture, and education. The Empire
has developed a graceful and majestic form of martial arts which its
A boy and a girl represent the hope for the future of the Empire. Heirs
to the throne, they are raised to be educated and noble but also skilled
in combat. The story of KĄ is the story of the twins as they fulfill
their respective destinies.
He is the monarch of the Empire and father
of the Twins. Dressed in luminous robes, the Emperor has a regal air.
She rules by the side of her husband,
the Emperor, and is the mother of the Twins. Her elaborate dress references
the Peking Opera, and the weeping tree design embroidered on her sleeves
suggests a slight melancholy to her character.
The Twins' guardian, she is charged with watching
over and caring for the Twins in their young age Somewhat of a surrogate
mother, her relationship with the Twins is one of mutual loyalty and love.
The Court Jester
The Fool of the court, he shares
a special bond with the Twins. He dances and entertains but he is also an
agile acrobat and possesses strength and courage beyond his role as a jester.
Servants of the Imperial Court, the Valets are a mischievous and bumbling
trio who constantly get into trouble. They play off each others' stupidities
like the Three Stooges.
The Imperial Guards
Practitioners of the graceful and noble form of martial
arts developed by the Empire, the Imperial Guards ceremoniously protect the
Emperor and his Court. The guards are dressed in Asian-inspired robes with the
empire's tree insignia across the open chest for the men, and the long flowing
robes hanging from the upper-body for the women.
The Archers are a malevolent underground society. Comprised of
factions of archers and spearmen living deep beneath the surface of the Earth
in caves, the bottom of their faces are obscured with muzzles and they have
emblazoned intricate tattoos all over their bodies. The Archers mine a rare
element that can be processed into powerful explosives for weapons. They have
mastered the art of aerial combat and fly from scaffold to scaffold in their
underground mines. Their society is built on war, destruction and dominion by
force. They will stop at nothing to conquer the world of KĄ and enslave its inhabitants.
The Evil Counselor
Leader of the Archer Tribe, architect of its
deadly arsenal of destruction and strategist behind the Archers' plans for domination.
He is the brain of the Archer Tribe.
The Counselor's Son
A brilliant designer of weapons and war machines
and practitioner of the Tribe's Aerial combat techniques, the malignant, jealous and
petty son of the Councilor is being reared to succeed his father at the helm of the
The Chief Archer
The stone-cold and imposing General of the
Archers' forces, he directs the archers and spearmen during their strategic attacks.
He commands the respect and loyalty of his troops. If the Counselor is the brain
of the Archers the Chief Archer is the brawn. The only glimpse of his heart is
shown in his love for his daughter.
Chief Archer's Daughter
A femme-fatale, the irresistibly
beautiful, tough-as-nails daughter of the Head Archer is desired by all of the men
of the Archer tribe. She continually spurs their affection but knows how to use
her sexuality to get what she wants from them The many spider-like references in
her costume suggest she is a black-widow although underneath her brazen exterior,
she secretly yearns for a virtuous life and the love of one who is pure of heart.
The Mountain Tribe
A tribe of white fur-clad mountain-dwellers who descend from
the heights to fish and scavenge for food. They are agile climbers and mountaineers.
Their deceptively primitive appearance gives no hint of the fact that they are
actually brilliant engineers and inventors.
The Forest Tribe
An ancient, mysterious and mystical airborne people who inhabit
the treetops of the forest. A majestic tribe gifted with the ability of flight
and masters of aerial combat, they are a peaceful society but will fight to free
those enslaved and oppressed by the Archers.
The young, handsome leader of the Forest Tribe; he
swings from the treetops like Tarzan. His heart of gold compels him to fight to
uphold the good in the world.
The animals in the world of KĄ are sentient, possessing human-like
characteristics and are a benevolent presence. Some of the animals we meet in KĄ
include a pair of crabs, a starfish, a turtle, a giant grass-hopper, a snake and