A chat with director Erick Villeneuve
How long ago did you start working on Immortal Chi? Tell me about the process.
It’s been our third time working with the Chinese production team over the last 10 years so now we have a strong workflow established. Before we even set foot in China, I had a lot of work to do. I watched a lot of Kung Fu shows, for a start!
Although we were aiming for a very contemporary show, I wanted it to have a strong and authentic grounding in the traditions of kung fu. After that we began casting first choosing kung fu artists and then assembling an all-female percussion ensemble. Chinese performers are the best, working with them is fascinating.
Are most of the performers from a background of martial arts, circus or contemporary dance? How do you see the juxtaposition between these disciplines?
Yes, all the Immortal Chi performers from a martial arts background. We paired them with an excellent choreographer to blend that discipline and their movement quality with dance to create a sort of contemporary acrobatic ballet. We were very happy with the result.
Is this a significant progression from your earlier production, Shaolin Warriors? What can audiences who saw and enjoyed Shaolin Warriors expect to see here?
More of a story. Also more choreographic movement, more fluidity from scene to scene. Immortal Chi is not a traditional kung fu show. People who are not familiar with kung fu will enjoy it for the lavish design, movement quality, and dynamics. And for the martial arts fans it will bring a spectacular performance element to techniques that they know, it shows them in a fresh light. Immortal Chi really does have something for everyone.