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Cirque du Soleil (French for "Circus of the Sun," in English ) (or Serk-doo-Solay), is a Canadian entertainment company, self-described as a "dramatic mix of circus arts and street entertainment." Based in Montrealmarker, Quebecmarker, Canada and located in the inner-city area of Saint-Michelmarker, it was founded in Baie-Saint-Paulmarker in 1984 by two former street performers, Guy Laliberté and Daniel Gauthier. The company is the winner of the 1991 Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience.

Initially named Les Échassiers, they toured Quebecmarker in 1980 as a performing troupe and encountered financial hardship that was relieved by a government grant in 1983 as part of the 450th anniversary celebrations of Jacques Cartier's discovery of Canada. Le Grand Tour du Cirque du Soleil was a success in 1984, and after securing a second year of funding, Laliberté hired Guy Caron from the National Circus School to re-create it as a "proper circus". Its theatrical, character-driven approach and the absence of performing animals helped define Cirque du Soleil as the contemporary circus ("nouveau cirque") that it remains today.

Each show is a synthesis of circus styles from around the world, with its own central theme and storyline. They draw the audience into the performance through continuous live music, with performers rather than stagehands changing the props. After critical and financial successes (Los Angelesmarker Arts Festival) and failures in the late 1980s, Nouvelle Expérience was created – with the direction of Franco Dragone – which not only made Cirque profitable by 1990, but allowed it to create new shows.

Cirque expanded rapidly through the 1990s and 2000s, going from one show to approximately 4,000 employees from over 40 countries producing 19 shows in over 271 cities on every continent except Africa and Antarctica, with an estimated annual revenue exceeding US$810 million.. The multiple permanent Las Vegasmarker shows alone play to more than 9,000 people a night, 5% of the city's visitors, adding to the 90 million people who have experienced Cirque worldwide. In 2000, Laliberté bought out Gauthier, and with 95% ownership, has continued to expand the brand. In 2008, under a partnership with investment groups Istithmar World and Nakheel of Dubaimarker, which Cirque plans to build a residency show in the United Arab Emiratesmarker country by 2012, Laliberté split 20% of his share equally between the two groups to further finance the company's goals. Several more shows are in development around the world, along with a television deal, women's clothing line and the possible venture into other mediums such as spas, restaurants and nightclubs.

Cirque's creations have been awarded numerous prizes and distinctions, including Bambi, Rose d'Or, three Gemini Awards and four Primetime Emmy Awards.

Company history

Seeking a career in the performing arts, Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté toured Europe as a folk musician and busker after quitting college. By the time he returned back home to Canada in 1979, he had learned the art of fire breathing. Although he became "employed" at a hydroelectric power plant in James Baymarker, his job ended after only three days due to a labour strike. He decided not to look for another job, instead supporting himself on his unemployment insurance. He helped organize a summer fair in Baie-Saint-Paul with the help of a pair of friends named Daniel Gauthier and Gilles Ste-Croix.

Gauthier and Ste-Croix were managing a youth hostel for performing artists named Le Balcon Vert at that time. By the summer of 1979, Ste-Croix had been developing the idea of turning the Balcon Vert, and the talented performers who lived there, into an organized performing troupe. As part of a publicity stunt to convince the Quebec government to help fund his production, Ste-Croix walked the from Baie-Saint-Paul to Quebec Citymarker on stilts. The ploy worked, giving the three men the money to create Les Échassiers de Baie-Saint-Paul. Employing many of the people who would later make up Cirque, Les Échassiers toured Quebec during the summer of 1980.

A young girl gets her face painted at Cirque's Fēte Foraine.


Although well-received by audiences and critics alike, Les Échassiers was a financial failure. Laliberté spent that winter in Hawaiimarker plying his trade while Ste-Croix stayed in Quebec to set up a nonprofit holding company named "The High-Heeled Club" to mitigate the losses of the previous summer. In 1981, they met with better results. By that fall, Les Échassiers de Baie-Saint-Paul had broken even. The success inspired Laliberté and Ste-Croix to organize a summer fair in their hometown of Baie-Saint-Paul.

This touring festival, called "La Fête Foraine," first took place in July 1982. La Fēte Foraine featured workshops to teach the circus arts to the public, after which those who participated could take part in a performance. Ironically, the festival was barred from its own hosting town after complaints from local citizens. Laliberté managed and produced the fair over the next couple years, nurturing it into a moderate financial success. But it was during 1983 that the government of Quebec gave him a $1.5 million grant to host a production the following year as part of Quebec's 450th anniversary celebration of the French explorer Jacques Cartier's discovery of Canada. Laliberté named his creation "Le Grand Tour du Cirque du Soleil".

Retired Big Top Touring/Arena shows

Le Grand Tour du Cirque du Soleil

Originally intended to only be a one-year project, Cirque du Soleil was scheduled to perform in 11 towns in Quebec over the course of 13 weeks running concurrent with the third La Fête Foraine. The first shows were riddled with difficulty, starting with the collapse of the big top after the increased weight of rainwater cause the central mast to snap. Working with a borrowed tent, Laliberté then had to contend with difficulties with the European performers who were so unhappy with the Quebec circus's inexperience, that they had at one point sent a letter to the media complaining about how they were being treated.

The problems were only transient, however, and by the time 1984 had come to a close, Le Grand Tour du Cirque Du Soleil was a success. Having only $60,000 left in the bank, Laliberté went back to the Canadian government to secure funding for a second year. Unfortunately, while the Canadian federal government was enthusiastic, the Quebec provincial government was resistant to the idea. It was not until Quebec's Premier, René Lévesque, intervened on their behalf that the provincial government relented.

The original big top tent that was used during the 1984 Le Grand Tour du Cirque Du Soleil tour can now be seen at Carnivàle Lune Bleue, a 1930s-style carnival that is home to the Cirque Maroc acrobats.

La Magie Continue

After securing funding from the Canadian government for a second year, Laliberté took steps to renovate Cirque from a group of street performers into a "proper circus". To accomplish this he hired the head of the National Circus School, Guy Caron, as Cirque Du Soleil's artistic director. The influences that Laliberté and Caron had in reshaping their circus were extensive. They wanted strong emotional music that was played from beginning to end by musicians. They wanted to emulate the Moscow Circus'marker method of having the acts tell a story. Performers, rather than a technical crew, move equipment and props on and off stage so that it did not disrupt the momentum of the "storyline". Most importantly, their vision was to create a circus with neither a ring nor animals. The rationale was that the lack of both of these things draws the audience more into the performance.

To help design the next major show, Laliberté and Caron hired Franco Dragone, another instructor from the National Circus School who had been working in Belgiummarker. When he joined the troupe in 1985, he brought with him his experience in commedia dell'arte techniques, which he imparted to the performers. Although his experience would be limited in the next show due to budget restraints, he would go on to direct every show up to, but not including Dralion.

By 1986, the company was once again in serious financial trouble. During 1985 they had taken the show outside Quebec to a lukewarm response. In Torontomarker they performed in front of a 25% capacity crowd after not having enough money to properly market the show. Gilles Ste-Croix, dressed in a monkey suit, walked through downtown Toronto as a desperate publicity stunt. A later stop in Niagara Fallsmarker turned out to be equally problematic.

Several factors prevented Cirque from going bankrupt that year. The Desjardins Group, which was Cirque du Soleil's financial institution at the time, covered about $200,000 of bad checks. Also, a financier named Daniel Lamarre, who worked for one of the largest public relations firms in Quebec, represented the company for free, knowing that they didn't have the money to pay his fee. The Quebec government itself also came through again, granting Laliberté enough money to stay solvent for another year.

We Reinvent the Circus

In 1987, after Laliberté re-privatized Cirque du Soleil, it was invited to perform at the Los Angelesmarker Arts Festival. Although they continued to be plagued by financial difficulties, Normand Latourelle took the gamble and went to Los Angeles, despite only having enough money to make a one-way trip. Had the show been a failure, Cirque would not have had enough money to get their performers and equipment back to Montreal.

The festival turned out to be a huge success, both critically and financially. The show attracted the attention of entertainment executives, including Columbia Pictures, which met with Laliberté and Gauthier under the pretense of wanting to make a movie about Cirque du Soleil. Laliberté was unhappy with the deal, claiming that it gave too many rights to Columbia, which was only attempting to secure all rights to the production. Laliberté pulled out of the deal before it could be concluded, and that experience stands out as a key reason why Cirque du Soleil remains independent and privately owned today.

In 1988, Guy Caron left the company due to artistic differences over what to do with the money generated by Cirque du Soleil's first financially successful tour. Laliberté wanted to use it to expand and start a second show while Caron wanted the money to be saved, with a portion going back to the National Circus School. An agreement was never met and Caron, along with a large number of artists loyal to him, departed. This stalled plans that year to start a new touring show.

Laliberté sought out Gilles Ste-Croix as replacement for the artistic director position. Ste-Croix, who had been away from Cirque since 1985, agreed to return. The company went through more internal troubles, including a failed attempt to add Normand Latourelle as a third man to the partnership. This triumvirate lasted only six months before internal disagreements prompted Gauthier and Laliberté to buy out Latourelle. By the end of 1989, Cirque du Soleil was once again in a deficit.

Nouvelle Expérience



In that same year, Cirque attempted to revive one of its previous shows, Le Cirque Réinventé. The attempt was abandoned after a weak critical reception. Laliberté and Ste-Croix instead created a new show based on the plans that had originally been drawn up by Caron before his departure. Originally intended to be called Eclipse, they renamed the show Nouvelle Expérience.

Franco Dragone agreed to return—albeit reluctantly—but only if he had full creative control of the show's environment. One of the first things he did was to remove the curtain that separated the artist from the audience, so that they would both feel part of a larger show. Whereas in a traditional circus the artist could go past the curtain and drop his role, Dragone had created an environment where the artist had to remain in character for the full length of the production.

Although Dragone was given full control over the show, Laliberté oversaw the entire production. He was in favor of Dragone's new ideas. Inspired by Jules Verne's "La Chasse au Météore", Dragone's concept for the show was that the performers were playing the parts of jewels spread around the Earth.

Nouvelle Expérience turned out to be Cirque du Soleil's most popular show up to that point and would continue running until 1993. It spent one of those years at The Mirage Resort and Hotelmarker on the Las Vegas Stripmarker. By the end of 1990, Cirque was profitable again and was prepared to start a new show.

Saltimbanco (Big Top Version)

Created in 1992, Saltimbanco (big top version) was the first show in which Cirque du Soleil would narrow its focus to tell a very specific and themed story. Dragone was inspired by the way multiculturalism shaped the nature and direction of Cirque du Soleil and wanted the theme of this new show to be one of "cosmopolitan urbanism". Laliberté stated that, "For me, Saltimbanco is a message of peace. In the 1990s, immigration was an issue, the mixing of cultures in cities, and Saltimbanco reflects that mix, with all of its personalities and colours. It's the challenge we have in today's world: respecting each other, living and working together, despite our differences."

Idealistic or not, Saltimbanco, which comes from the French "saltimbanque", meaning "acrobat - performer - entertainer", was well-received. Featuring 47 artists, the cast has been assembled from the citizens of 15 different countries. This is, to date, the longest-running show that Cirque du Soleil has ever produced. It has run for 15 years and has toured North and South America, Europe, Japan and the Pacific Rim.

With Saltimbanco finished and touring in the United States and Canada, Cirque du Soleil toured Japan in the summer of 1992 at the behest of the Fuji Television Networkmarker. Taking acts from Nouvelle Expérience and Cirque Réinventé they created a show for this tour entitled "Fascination". Although Fascination was never seen outside of Japan, it represented the first time that Cirque had produced a show that took place in an arena rather than a big top. It was also the first that Cirque du Soleil performed outside of North America.

On 1 February 1997, Saltimbanco played its final show at London'smarker Royal Albert Hallmarker. However, the show was restaged and started the following year for a new three-year tour throughout Asia and the Pacific.

Delirium (Arena show)

Delirium was a Cirque du Soleil live music event created in conjunction with Live Nation. Instead of being a standard touring show, it was a multimedia/theatrical production that features remixes of existing Cirque music and reinterpretations of performances. This show was choreographed by So You Think You Can Dance's Mia Michaels. After an extensive North American tour, and a short European tour, the show retired on the 19th of April 2008, in the O2 Arena in London

Alegría

Alegría was a departure from the bright circus atmosphere seen previously in productions like Saltimbanco. Created for Cirque du Soleil's tenth anniversary, the concept for the show came to life over a dinner conversation between Franco Dragone and Guy Laliberté. Dragone wanted this show to be dark and heavy. "At one point," Dragone said "I was with Guy Laliberté at a restaurant in one of the Las Vegas casinos, and I told him the next show would be sad, heavy, really hard: ' Alegría! Alegría! Alegría!' It's Spanish for 'Joy! Joy! Joy!' Where I come from, it's what you say when you're in pain. It means life goes on."

Costing more than $3 million to produce, the show's main theme is about the abuse of power and the subsequent struggle for freedom. Alegría makes use of darker lighting and music than previous Cirque productions. The stage and the props use gothic arches and harsh angular designs to attempt to invoke a feeling of oppressiveness.

Alegría has toured around the world, including a year in residence at the Beau Rivage resort in Biloximarker, Mississippi. Francesca Gagnon, who played the most famous "The White Singer" character, has twice been invited to reprise the Alegría title song at the Montreal Jazz Festival. The music of Alegría has proven extremely popular and the show's soundtrack remains the best-selling Cirque du Soleil album to date.

After a 15-year-long tour, Alegría retired on 5 April 2009, after its month-long engagement in Dubai. The show was later restaged, following the arena format of Delirium and Saltimbanco. Premiering in Halifax on 27 May 2009, Alegría started touring later that year for a new three-year North American tour.

Big Top Touring shows

Quidam

"Quidam" by Cirque du Soleil
Premiering in 1996, Quidam adhered to the trend of bringing darker shows to the big top, previously established by Alegría the year before. Derived from the Latin word for "a nameless passerby," Quidam was Cirque du Soleil's ninth production and premiered in Montreal on 23 April 1996. Dragone's concept for this show is the imagination of a young, jaded girl named Zoe. Drawing heavily from surrealistic artwork, the performers in the show are the manifestations of her own magical daydreams.

Show designers Michel Crête and Franco Dragone wanted to find a new way to incorporate acrobatic equipment onstage. One of the ways they did this in Quidam was to design an overhead rigging system that would allow the performers to enter and exit from above and across the stage. The system also allowed the ability to safely suspend cast members in the air using harnesses for extended periods of time.

The show premiered in Montreal as Cirque du Soleil's new head office and training center was being inaugurated. Initial reviews were critical of Quidam, some suggesting that it "did not feel like Cirque du Soleil". Still, the production scheduled a three-year tour of North America. By the time the 1000-performance tour was finished, Denvermarker, Houstonmarker and Dallasmarker were added to the schedule and more than 2.5 million people watched Quidam. After touring Mexicomarker for five months (November 2007 - March 2008), Quidam went back to Europe, to start its second European tour in Lisbonmarker, Portugalmarker, with scheduled dates in Spain, Belgiummarker, U.K. and Ireland. In 2009/2010 they will make presentations in nine Brazilian cities.

Dralion

The years of work had taken their toll on Cirque du Soleil's creative team. After La Nouba, Franco Dragone and Michel Crête parted ways from the company. To fill the void they left for the creation of the next show, Guy Laliberté turned to his former artistic director, Guy Caron, who had remained friends with Laliberté after his departure in 1988. Caron was persuaded to leave the National Circus School to return to work with Cirque du Soleil on a new Eastern-themed show.

Rather than attempt to mimic Dragone's style, Caron decided to revisit the themes of Le Cirque réinventé. "I like a show that's full of energy, without gaps, that's full of strong acts, funny, with a big punch at the end," Caron explained. One of his obstacles was working with a team of performers who were almost entirely new to Cirque du Soleil, including a new set designer named Stéphane Roy who had worked with Laliberté and Gauthier back in Baie-Saint-Paul at the Balcon Vert youth hostel. Despite the new team, many within the company were unenthused about Dralion, alarmed at how much the atmosphere and style differed from Dragone's productions.

Despite any misgivings, Dralion went on to be Cirque du Soleil's top-grossing touring show. The television filming of the show received a Primetime Emmy Award.

Varekai

In 2002, Cirque du Soleil premiered Varekai, its first touring show in three years. Laliberté brought in fresh talent to direct this new show: a theater director named Dominic Champagne. Much like Caron directing Dralion three years earlier, Champagne found himself working with a fresh group of performers who had never worked for him before. Unlike the intuitive approach to writing productions of Dragone and Caron, Champagne scripted Varekai from start to finish.

Varekai, which is a word from the Romany language which means "wherever," was conceptualized on the basis of mythology like many of the previous productions. The story is about the Greek myth of Icarus. The story picks up where the myth leaves off, telling the story of what happened to Icarus after he fell from the sky. He lands in the middle of a jungle at the base of a volcano where he must learn to fly again.

Corteo

Cortéo is a Cirque du Soleil touring production that premiered in North America in 2005. Cortéo—"cortage" in Italian—is a show about a clown who watches his own funeral taking place in a carnival-like atmosphere. Inspired by "The Grand Parade: Portrait of the Artist as Clown" on display at the National Gallery of Canadamarker, in many ways Cortéo is a throwback to the older and more lighthearted Cirque productions like Saltimbanco.

Directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca, the founder of the Swiss clown troupe Teatro Sunil, Cortéo takes place on a large circular stage, consisting of separate rotating rings set inside each other. This allows for one area of the stage to move around the stationary action occurring inside the ring. Occasionally during the performance, the stage is divided by a large curtain with a painting on it called the "Cortéo Procession". There are entrance/exits at either side of the circular stage.

KOOZÅ

Like Cortéo, KOOZÅ (Sanskrit for "treasure" or "box") is another show that goes back to Cirque du Soleil's older styles. Premiering in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on 19 April 2007, the show's music is often inspired by South Asian (Indian) sounds. KOOZÅ makes use of a large traveling tower on the stage called a "bataclan". The bataclan moves over the course of the show and reconfigures the performing space.

This show was directed by David Shiner, who had previously worked as a clown in Cirque's production of Nouvelle Expérience. He was another example of Cirque's trend of using new directors for each new performance. His past experience being a clown and working with the Swiss National Circus ("Circus Knie") are an influence on the lighthearted and whimsical nature of the KOOZÅ production.

OVO

OVO (Portuguese for "egg"), was created and directed by Brazilian dancer/choreograhper Deborah Colker -- the first woman to create a Cirque production—that heavily relies on Brazilian music and some dance performances mixed in with the traditional circus arts; premiered in Montreal in 2009 and is currently touring North America. The show looks at the world of insects and its biodiversity where they go about their daily lives until a mysterious egg appears in their midst, as the insects become awestruck about this iconic object that represents the enigma and cycles of their lives.

Permanent Residency shows

Mystère

On 25 December 1993, as Cirque was approaching its 10th anniversary, they unveiled a new show at the then-new Treasure Island Hotel and Casinomarker on the Las Vegas Strip. Mystère was a departure from their standard format much in the way that Fascination was. A deal was made between Cirque du Soleil and Steve Wynn, Treasure Island's developer, to grant permanent residency to Cirque's new show. It posed certain difficulties for the company, such as the need to set up a permanent infrastructure to meet the needs of its employees working in the Las Vegas area.

Dragone's concept for Mystère was an exploration of the origins of life in our universe. The themes for the show are a conglomerate of multiple mythologies from multiple cultures. The music was quite different from Cirque's previously traditional style as well, relying on more "ethnic" music of Spanish, African and east European inspiration.

The show represented Cirque's first attempt at moving from the big top into a theater setting. It was also the first time that Laliberté and Gauthier were forced to contend with a major business partner, Treasure Island. The partnership led to difficulties and Steve Wynn was not initially optimistic about the show's chances for success, saying "You guys have made a German opera here." Franco Dragone took Wynn's sarcasm as a compliment. Wynn remained unhappy with the dark and moody feel of Mystère and had even threatened to delay the opening of the show unless changes were made. Nevertheless, Mystère was successful and has remained at the hotel ever since.

O

On October 19, 1998, at the Bellagio Hotel and Casinomarker on the Las Vegas Strip, Cirque premiered its tenth production and second resident show. Once again working with hotel entrepreneur Steve Wynn, Cirque du Soleil and Wynn financed a $100 million theater within the hotel. As the company was getting more comfortable with theater productions, they wanted to create a show performed in the water, a concept not tried in a theater before. O, whose name is derived from the phonetic spelling of the French word eau, meaning water, took more than 400,000 man-hours of preproduction and production work to prepare, not counting the time spent on the construction of the theater.

The 1,800-seat theater itself was centered around a 1.5 million-gallon tank of water for the cast to perform in and around. It was built using a water pumping system that is as noiseless as possible to prevent any mechanical noise from detracting from the quality of the show itself. Twelve underwater speakers allow the performers in the water to hear and react to audio cues when they are submerged.

Water-resistant materials had to be used in the construction of the theater as well as all the props, costumes and makeup. The costumes used by the performers were nearly $10,000 each and needed to be made of material that resisted the effects of the chlorine and bromide in the water. The makeup that had been used in past shows was unsuitable for submerged performers, requiring a new waterproof formulation.

To support the needs of the performers who would be getting in and out of the water, a directed HVAC system was created for this theater to control the heat and humidity generated by the approximately 84-degree water. Blowers were built into the stage to keep warm air circulating on the stage while a silent air movement system carried air at 55 degrees Fahrenheit underneath every seat in the theater. The combined systems keep both the performers and the audience at a comfortable temperature.

La Nouba

Later that same year in Orlando, Floridamarker, Cirque's third resident show was inaugurated at the Downtown Disneymarker section of the Walt Disney World Resortmarker. In a partnership with Disney's former CEO Michael Eisner, Cirque created its first permanent freestanding theater to hold 1,671 attendees. high and designed to resemble a white tower with metal turrets on the outside, the interior is made to project the appearance and atmosphere of a travelling show's "Grand Chapiteau".

Conceptually, Dragone and Laliberté decided to portray La Nouba as a fairy tale. Assistant designer Michel Crête noted "We were at Disney, so we were influenced by a world of fables." The set design is built to give the perception of an old attic where the performers tell the audience a story. "La Nouba", which originates from the French phrase "faire la nouba" which means "to party," contrasts stories through two groups of people: one colourful and the other monochromatic.

The creative design team of Cirque du Soleil admits that La Nouba was rushed together. They had been working non-stop for years on the previous shows for the past several years and La Nouba was created under near-exhaustion. They countered this by attempting to instill more youth into the show, in both the themes and the age of the performers.

Zumanity

In September 2003, Cirque du Soleil unveiled Zumanity. This new production was a resident cabaret-style show at the New York-New York Hotel & Casinomarker on the Las Vegas Strip. It is the first "adult-themed" Cirque du Soleil show, billed as "The Sensual Side of Cirque du Soleil" or "Another side of Cirque du Soleil". Created by Dominic Champagne, Zumanity is a departure from the standard Cirque format. Intended to be for mature adult audiences only, this show is centered around erotic song, dance, and acrobatics.

The inspiration to create Zumanity came from multiple sources. Laliberté had been offered the chance to create two new shows in Las Vegas, and wanted something completely new and original rather than multiple similar shows that would cannibalize off of each other's sales and audiences. Another reason was that the New York-New York Hotel and Casinomarker wanted to make their entertainment appear more "trendy". The hotel liked the concept of a more adult Cirque du Soleil performance.

Laliberté admits that the biggest reason to produce this show was the chance to create something with riskier subject matter. He was interested in the idea of creating a show that explored human sexuality, something that was at complete odds from the other more family-oriented Cirque shows. "Our previous shows have all been family-oriented and politically correct, which is great," Laliberté said, "But we're human beings, we won't hide it. We're a bunch of happy campers. We like to live new experiences. Zumanity deals with some of those experiences."

After Steve Wynn sold his Mirage Resorts to MGM in 2000, Laliberté received a call from Terry Lanni, CEO of the MGM Mirage. Lanni had been eager to capitalize on the previous successes of Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas and offered to fund the production of two more shows, Zumanity and KÀ.

Directed by Canadian theater veteran Robert Lepage, drew heavily on martial arts for its inspiration. The story centers around the adventures of a pair of imperial twins. Unlike most Cirque productions, the story of was more concrete and linear, more narrative and less abstract. First premiering in November 2004 at the MGM Grandmarker, became Cirque's fourth resident show in Las Vegas. It was also the largest and most expensive production the company had created to date. By the time it had been completed, had cost more than $220 million, of which more than $30 million was in costumes and $135 million was the theater itself, the bill for which was paid entirely by the MGM Grand.

Love

The show is based at The Miragemarker, Las Vegas and consists of panoramic sound and visuals along with a cast of 60 international artists. Born from a personal friendship and mutual admiration between George Harrison and Cirque founder Guy Laliberté, Love brings Cirque du Soleil together with the musical legacy of The Beatles through their original recordings. Using the master tapes at Abbey Road studios, Sir George Martin and his son, Giles Martin have created a soundscape of Beatles music for Love.

ZAIA

Based at The Venetian Macaomarker, Cotai Stripmarker, the 90-minute production that opened in August 2008 brings together 75 high-calibre artists from all four corners of the globe. The show is directed by Neilson Vignola and Gilles Maheu.

ZAIA presents a young girl's perception of the stars and planets, space and infinity, all populated by a panoply of fantastic, out-of-this-world creatures. The title, ZAIA, comes from a Greek name meaning "life" and is also reminiscent of Gaia, the living, self-aware spirit of Earth.

ZED

A residency show at the Tokyo Disney Resort that opened on October 1, 2008. Film director François Girard creates a show surrounded by the titular character, drawn on the Tarot and its arcana that holds up a mirror to ourselves and the human condition through a variety of other characters as he unites the divisions between the people of the sky and Earth..

Criss Angel Believe

In late 2008 Cirque du Soleil collaborated with MGM to create a resident show at the Luxormarker hotel in Las Vegas, featuring Criss Angel, fusing his signature illusions and artistry with acrobatics, dance, puppetry, music and poetry to attempt to tell a story of the exploration of his mind. Originally scheduled to open on September 26, 2008, preview performances were delayed due to "technical difficulties", and the show eventually hosted its Gala Opening on October 31, 2008.

Despite enthusiastic promotions from Cirque du Soleil and Criss Angel, including a guest performance on American reality TV show So You Think You Can Dance, which resulted in sales of more than $5 million in advance tickets, Believe received an uneasy reception from fans and critics alike. Audience members were quoted saying the production was a "waste of time" and "dead end", while the show received harsh reviews from critics for lack of magic and overall cohesion of the production.

Arena Touring shows

Saltimbanco (Arena Version)

An arena version of the retired big-top show which traveled the world from April 1992-December 2006. It is currently touring in different arenas across North America, traveling to regions that have never had a Cirque du Soleil show visit, such as Idahomarker and Newfoundland and Labradormarker.

Alegría (Arena Version)

Alegría is a re-staged version of the retired big-top show of the same name which toured around the world until concluding in April 2009. Currently touring across North America, Alegría has made a transition into an arena format, which follows the similar design of past big-top productions including Saltimbanco.

Seasonal residency shows

Wintuk

Performed at the WaMu Theater in New York Citymarker's Madison Square Gardens and scheduled to run for 10 weeks each winter from 2007-2011. Wintuk is a family-based and specifically themed semi-permanent residency show about a young boy living in a large, snowless city waiting for the first snowfall that never comes. With the help of four other companions in search of their place in the world, they journey to an imaginary Nordic country, where they experience the rich culture of the Northern peoples and bring back snow to the city in a snowstorm.

Les chemins invisibles

In 2009, the Cirque signed a contract with Quebec City for 5 years of free presentations of a show named Les chemins invisibles (Invisible Paths) during the summer. The show is about three tribes from separate cultures that meet to share one another's experiences. Each year, 25% of the show will be renewed. This engagement follows the success of the special show 400e anniversaire de Quebec, which was presented in 2008 for the 400-year anniversary of the city. Les chemins invisibles begins in three different streets of the downtown area and mixes under the highways. It has been well received by the public and media.

Future productions

2009

  • November 2009: Cirque has announced a limited-run vaudeville-based seasonal residency show called Banana Shpeel to come to the Chicago Theatermarker in Chicagomarker for November 2009-January 2010. After its tryout run in Chicago, the show will be installed at the Beacon Theater in New York for additional performances for February to April 2010. One of the show's collaborators is the Allman Brothers. Recently, it has been announced that the two original leads of the show, Michael Longoria and Annaleigh Ashford have left the show.


2010

  • January 2010: CKX, Inc., the company that owns the rights to Elvis Presley's name, likeness, and music publishing, signed an agreement to have Cirque create the Elvis-themed residency show, Viva Elvis. This production is slated for Las Vegas' Project CityCentermarker's ARIA Resort & Casino with previews beginning December 18, 2009 and the gala premiere on January 18, 2010. The Elvis Presley Projects will include additional touring and its multimedia presentations, along with "Elvis Experiences" (interactive multimedia exhibits). One touring Elvis show is planned for Europe/Asia for 2010, with one "Elvis Experience" outside the United States. One new Elvis Presley Project will open each year from 2009-2015.
  • April 2010: A new touring production, Cirque 2010 (working title) will be created and directed by past collaborator Robert Lepage (), as confirmed by Cirque CEO Daniel Lamarre.
  • Cirque has announced an annual seasonal show to be installed at Radio City Music Hallmarker during the summer months, a reinvention of the variety show as created and directed by René Simard. This US$20 million show is expected to spend half its time in New York, with the other half spent in either London or Paris.
  • Cirque will co-create the Canada Pavilion in association with the Government of Canada for Expo 2010marker to be held in Shanghai, China.


2011



2012



Other projects

Current projects

  • Cirque du Monde, a social action project designed to reach marginalized youth.
  • Revolution, a lounge concept designed for The Mirage resort in Las Vegas in which the Cirque cast members perform to the music of The Beatles.
  • Cirque du Soleil Collection, a ready-to-wear women's clothing line.


Past projects

  • 74th Academy Awards (24 March 2002): Cirque du Soleil created a five-minute performance for the category of special effects at the 74th Academy Awards. They spent four months creating the show, which featured 11 acts from a variety of Cirque shows. Each of the acts were choreographed and themed to their equivalent movie by re-creating the special effect scene featured in the film on stage while playing clips on a large screen behind the performances.
  • Soleil de Minuit/Midnight Sun (11 July 2004), a special one-night event in Montreal celebrating the 20th anniversary of Cirque du Soleil and the 25th anniversary of the Montreal International Jazz Festival.
  • A Taste of Cirque du Soleil (2004—2005), a special 30-minute performance on the Constellation and Summit Celebrity Cruises cruise ships. Included on these ships was The Bar at the Edge of the Earth, a dreamlike bar/lounge/disco.
  • Reflections in Blue (16 July 2005), a unique one-night water show in Montreal as part of the opening ceremonies for the 2005 World Aquatics Championships.
  • Super Bowl XLI pre-game show (4 February 2007), produced by David Saltz.
  • The Awakening of the Serpent (June—September 2008): Cirque du Soleil participated in the presentation of a daily parade spectacle called The Awakening of the Serpent at Expo 2008marker in Zaragozamarker, Spain.


Discography

Filmography

Cirque du Soleil Images creates original and innovative products for television, video and DVD and distributes its productions worldwide. In each of its projects, Cirque du Soleil Images aims to reflect the image and spirit of Cirque du Soleil's shows.

Its creations have been awarded numerous prizes and distinctions, including two Gemini Awards and a Primetime Emmy Award for Cirque du Soleil Fire Within (in 2003) and three Primetime Emmy Awards for Cirque du Soleil Presents Dralion (in 2001).

Year Title Notes
1991 Quel Cirque A look into the creation of Nouvelle Experiénce. Out of print.
1992 Saltimbanco's Diary A behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of Saltimbanco. Out of print.
1994 A Baroque Odyssey A 10-year anniversary retrospective.
1994 The Truth of Illusion Documentary about the production Alegria. Out of print.
1996 Full Circle: The Making of Quidam A behind-the-scenes look at the making of Quidam
1998 Alegría Film adaptation directed by Franco Dragone. This film was based loosely on the touring show.
2000 Journey of Man A compilation of acts from various Cirque shows including Mystère and Quidam. This movie was shot in wide format and released at IMAX theaters.
2000 Inside La Nouba: From Conception to Perception Highlights of the show and interviews with creators.
2003 Fire Within A 13-episode inside look into the creation and production of Varekai shown on Bravo.
2003 Whatever 'Stie A Parody of Varekai show acted by the technical crew only for the actual artists (actors) DVD.
2004 Midnight Sun Festival International de Jazz de Montrèal on 11 July 2004, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Festival International de Jazz de Montrèal and Cirque du Soleil's 20th birthday.
2004 Solstrom A 13-episode series using various acts from Cirque du Soleil and other productions shown on Bravo. Each episode has a different theme.
2005 KÀ Extreme A documentary which explores the production of KÀ by following the show’s evolution from early rehearsals through to the first public performance.
2006 Lovesick Filmed over two years and set in Las Vegas during the creation of the cabaret-style production, Zumanity.
2007 FLOW A homage to the artists of "O" that provides an in-depth documentary of the Las Vegas aquatic extravaganza.
2007 The Mystery of Mystère A documentary about Mystère, the critically acclaimed theatrical production playing at the permanent location at the Treasure Island Resort.
2007 A Thrilling Ride through KOOZA A short documentary filmed during the creation period of Kooza.
2007 Filmed exclusively for German national TV channel, ZDF.
2008 Delirium The last performance of Delirium was filmed in London. This film was released in movie theaters starting on 20 August 2008. Encore performances on October 15, 2008.
2008 All Together Now A documentary about the making of LOVE.


Legal issues

In November 2003, a US federal discrimination complaint was filed against Cirque du Soleil by Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund on behalf of gymnast Matthew Cusick. The allegation was that in April 2002, they fired Cusick because he tested HIV positive. Cusick had not yet performed, but had completed his training and was scheduled to begin working at Mystère just a few days after he was terminated. Even though company doctors had already cleared him as healthy enough to perform, Cirque alleged that due to the nature of Cusick's disease coupled with his job's high risk of injury, there was a significant risk of him infecting other performers, crew or audience members. Cirque du Soleil said that they had several HIV-positive employees, but in the case of Cusick, the risk of him spreading his infection while performing was too high to take the risk. A boycott ensued and Just Out ran a story on it with the headline "Flipping off the Cirque".

An additional complaint was filed on Cusick's behalf by the San Franciscomarker Human Rights Commission. Their complaint stemmed from the issue that the City of San Francisco bans contracts (or in this case land leases) to discriminatory employers.

Although Cirque du Soleil's position remains that this is a safety issue, not a discrimination issue, they settled with Cusick on 22 April 2004. The terms of the settlement include that the company would initiate a companywide anti-discrimination training program and alter its employment practices pertaining to HIV-positive applicants. In addition, Matthew Cusick received $60,000 in lost wages, $200,000 in front pay, $300,000 in compensatory damages and Lambda Legal received $40,000 in attorney fees.

References

  1. Collins, Glenn Run Away to the Circus? No need. It's Staying Here article, New York Times, April 28, 2009
  2. Official Cirque du Soleil Website
  3. Official Cirque du Soleil Press Release, August 6, 2008
  4. forbes.com
  5. Carnivàle Lune Bleue (home to the original 1984 Cirque du Soleil Big Top).
  6. Cirque du Soleil webpage information
  7. Official Cirque du Soleil Criss Angel BELIEVE website link
  8. Cirque and Angel's 'Believe' delayed | The Movable Buffet | Los Angeles Times
  9. Chris Lee, Criss Angel believes that you will too, Los Angeles Times, October 12, 2008, Accessed January 21, 2009.
  10. Doug Elfman, Angel's 'Believe' magic: Miffed fans disappear, Las Vegas Review-Journal, September 29, 2008, Accessed November 4, 2008.
  11. Richard Abowitz, Criss Angel's 'Believe' hard to believe, LATimes.com, October 31, 2008, Accessed November 4, 2008.
  12. Joe Brown, Illusion is elusive in Angel’s ‘Believe’, Los Angeles Times, November 1, 2008, Accessed November 4, 2008.
  13. cirquedusoleil.com
  14. Cirque du Soleil Official website.
  15. Playbill.com, October 23, 2009
  16. Canoe.com newswire on Cirque's 2008 year-end report and Elvis production, December 15, 2008 (in French)
  17. Press release containing future Cirque show information
  18. Official CKX, Inc. Press Release on The Elvis Presley Projects with Cirque du Soleil
  19. Kathleen Lavoie, Le Soleil article November 1, 2008 (in French)
  20. Official Cirque du Soleil Canada Pavilion Expo 2010 Press Release
  21. Official Cirque du Soleil Los Angeles 2010 Press Release
  22. McArthur, Rachel. "Cirque on the Palm by 2012." March 7, 2009.
  23. Official Cirque du Soleil in Dubai 2010 Press Release. May 1, 2007.
  24. "Cirque du Soleil Show Dubai." Destination360. Retrieved November 4, 2009.
  25. Cirque du Soleil to perform in Super Bowl XLI pregame show published 9 January 2006


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