Ryan Chartrand

Through its practice of mental, physical and spiritual discipline, as well as its deadly martial arts prowess and blockbuster movies starring Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, the art of Kung Fu – which itself dates back more than 1,500 years to China – became famous and revered throughout the world.

The critically acclaimed Shaolin Warriors will showcase their masterful martial arts skills at Cal Poly’s Christopher Cohan Center tonight at 7 p.m.

“Shaolin Warriors is an innovative combination of martial arts, choreography, and theatrical lighting that presents all the excitement of Kung Fu in a fully staged show,” said Shree Starkman, associate manager of Columbia Artists Management, Inc, also known as CAMI Ventures.

Based in New York City, CAMI Ventures is the world’s largest classical music management firm, and manages the touring activities of Shaolin Warriors. They also manage tours for instrumental soloists, opera singers, conductors, orchestras, theatrical attractions and fine arts media productions.

“Unlike past ‘demonstration’ style shows, [Shaolin Warriors] acknowledges that Kung Fu is an art form with all the beauty and subtlety of a dance performance,” Starkman said.

“I have seen the show several times and it always amazes me. It’s fun and entertaining purely as a spectacle, but it is also visually stunning and the skill of the performers is phenomenal. Besides, the ‘little masters’ are so cute!”

The first production of Shaolin Warriors was in 2001. The show is performed by the Warriors of the Shaolin School in China, who have been trained in the Kung Fu discipline from a young age.

The performance will feature the Shaolin Warriors in a choreographed performance portraying a typical day in their lives. It includes the tranquility of morning meditation, chanting, exercises, and synchronized fighting rituals, sometimes using a variety of traditional Shaolin weaponry.

Some audiences were moved not only by the excitement and fascination of the martial arts, but the show’s spiritual element as well.

Cal Poly’s Arts Interim Director Peter Wilt said that he got a sense of spirituality just from watching the sold-out performance three years ago.

“Martial arts is part of their religious training and it’s how they get in touch with their spirituality,” Wilt said.

“It’s different and fascinating how other people worship or approach spirituality. Christians go to church to express their spirituality, and watching the performance is a great way to learn another way of life.”

“I think this show appeals to people for a variety of different reasons,” Starkman said.

“A lot of people come because they’re curious about Chinese culture, or because they are into martial arts. Kids attend the show because they’ve played Mortal Kombat or grew up watching Kung Fu movies. Then there’s a whole other group who are interested in Eastern spirituality and are hoping to learn something from the show.”

The Shaolin Warriors 2007 tour kicked off in September throughout the United States and Canada.

General public tickets range from $26 to $38 with student discounts available. Tickets can be purchased at the Performing Arts ticket office from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

Tickets can also be ordered by phone at 756-2787, by fax at 756-6088 or online at www.pacslo.org.

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