Spring / Summer 2011

A Moving Production

Photograph by Robert John Kley

Matsuri Combines Grace and Athleticism

Matsuri debuted in Las Vegas five years ago, the American version of Japan’s famed Muscle Musical. Besides the name, little else was changed: Matsuri arrived with the same burst-of-energy performances and high action as its widely touted Japanese counterpart.

Meaning “festival” in Japanese, Matsuri combines extreme athleticism and precise rhythmic gymnastics in a variety of acts— from jump-rope numbers to foot drumming and the traditional Lion Dance. “It embodies not only traditional Japanese culture, but also contemporary Japanese culture,” explains Megan Belk, president of EBI Enterprises.

For performer Ayuri Iisaku, who plays the warrior princess Oiran, coming to Las Vegas was “a dream come true,” she says through a translator. Iisaku took up dance at age seven and began performing in Muscle Musical in 2004 before the dynamic show came stateside. By performing with such “raw, organic energy,” Belk says, the cast leaves audiences “shaking their heads in disbelief at their amazing skills and stamina.”

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