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
and street entertainment."
Montreal, Quebec, Canada and
located in the inner-city area of Saint-Michel, it was founded in Baie-Saint-Paul 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
named Les Échassiers, they toured Quebec 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
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
") that it
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
Angeles 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
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
810 million.. The multiple permanent
Vegas 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
2008, under a partnership with investment groups Istithmar World and Nakheel of Dubai, which
Cirque plans to build a residency show in the United Arab
Emirates country by 2012, Laliberté split 20% of his share
equally between the two groups to further finance the company's
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
Cirque's creations have been awarded numerous prizes and
distinctions, including Bambi
, three Gemini Awards
and four Primetime Emmy Awards
Seeking a career in the performing arts, Cirque du Soleil founder
Guy Laliberté toured Europe as a folk
college. By the time he returned back home to Canada in 1979, he
had learned the art of fire
. Although he became "employed" at a hydroelectric power plant in James Bay, his job ended after only three days due to a
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 City 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,
toured Quebec during the summer of
A young girl gets her face painted at
Cirque's Fēte Foraine
Although well-received by audiences and critics alike, Les
was a financial failure. Laliberté spent that
winter in Hawaii 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
took place in July 1982. La Fēte Foraine
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
Canada. Laliberté named his creation "Le Grand Tour du Cirque
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
. 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
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
1930s-style carnival that is home to the Cirque Maroc
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
, 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' 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
design the next major show, Laliberté and Caron hired Franco Dragone, another instructor from the
National Circus School who had been working in Belgium.
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 Toronto 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
Falls 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
after Laliberté re-privatized Cirque du Soleil, it was invited to
perform at the Los
Angeles 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
The festival turned out to be a huge success, both critically and
financially. The show attracted the attention of entertainment
executives, including Columbia
, 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
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.
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
, they renamed the show Nouvelle
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
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"
's concept for the show was that the
performers were playing the parts of jewels spread around the
turned out to be Cirque du Soleil's
most popular show up to that point and would continue running until
spent one of those years at The Mirage Resort and Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip.
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
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
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
Taking acts from Nouvelle Expérience
they created a show for this tour entitled
. Although Fascination
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.
February 1997, Saltimbanco played its final show at
However, the show was restaged and started
the following year for a new three-year tour throughout Asia and
Delirium (Arena show)
was a Cirque du Soleil live music event created
in conjunction with Live Nation
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
. 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
was a departure from the bright circus atmosphere
seen previously in productions like Saltimbanco
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
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: '
!' 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.
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 Biloxi,
, who played the most famous "The White Singer"
character, has twice been invited to reprise the Alegría
title song at the Montreal Jazz
. The music of
has proven extremely popular and the show's
soundtrack remains the best-selling Cirque du Soleil album to
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
. 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" by Cirque du Soleil
Premiering in 1996, Quidam
adhered to the trend of
bringing darker shows to the big top, previously established by
the year before. Derived from the Latin word
for "a nameless passerby,"
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
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, Denver, Houston and Dallas were added
to the schedule and more than 2.5 million people watched
Quidam. After touring Mexico for five
months (November 2007 - March 2008), Quidam went back to
Europe, to start its second European tour in Lisbon, Portugal, with scheduled dates in Spain, Belgium, U.K. and Ireland.
In 2009/2010 they will
make presentations in nine Brazilian cities.
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
Rather than attempt to mimic Dragone
style, Caron decided to revisit the themes of Le Cirque
. "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
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
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
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
Champagne scripted Varekai
from start to finish.
, which is a word from the
"wherever," was conceptualized on the basis of mythology like many
of the previous productions. The story is about the Greek myth
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
is a Cirque du Soleil touring production that
premiered in North America in 2005. Cortéo
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
Gallery of Canada, in many ways Cortéo is a throwback to the
older and more lighthearted Cirque productions like
Directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca, the founder of the Swiss clown
troupe Teatro Sunil
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
Like Cortéo, KOOZÅ
"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
bataclan moves over the course of the show and reconfigures the
This show was directed by David
, 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
(Portuguese for "egg"), was created and directed by
Brazilian dancer/choreograhper Deborah
-- 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
December 1993, as Cirque was approaching its 10th anniversary, they
unveiled a new show at the then-new Treasure
Island Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Mystère
a departure from their standard format much in the way that
was. A deal was made between Cirque du Soleil
and Steve Wynn
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
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.
was successful and has remained at
the hotel ever since.
October 19, 1998, at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino 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
, whose name is derived from the phonetic spelling
of the French word
, 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
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
water. The makeup that had been used in past shows was unsuitable
for submerged performers, requiring a new waterproof
To support the needs of the performers who would be getting in and
out of the water, a directed HVAC
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
that same year in Orlando, Florida, Cirque's third resident show was inaugurated at
Disney section of the Walt Disney World Resort.
In a partnership with Disney's former
, 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
Conceptually, Dragone and Laliberté decided to portray La
as a fairy tale
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
was rushed together. They had been working non-stop for
years on the previous shows for the past several years and La
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.
In September 2003, Cirque du Soleil unveiled Zumanity
production was a resident cabaret-style show
at the New York-New York Hotel &
Casino 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
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
Casino wanted to make their entertainment appear more
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
After Steve Wynn
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
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 KÀ
was more concrete and linear,
more narrative and less abstract. First premiering in November 2004 at the
Grand, KÀ 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
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
is based at The
Mirage, Las Vegas and consists of panoramic sound and
visuals along with a cast of 60 international artists.
from a personal friendship and mutual admiration between George Harrison
and Cirque founder Guy
brings Cirque du Soleil together with the
musical legacy of The Beatles
their original recordings. Using the master tapes at Abbey Road
studios, Sir George Martin
son, Giles Martin
have created a
of Beatles music for
Strip, 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
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
, the living, self-aware spirit
A residency show at the Tokyo Disney
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
Criss Angel Believe
2008 Cirque du Soleil collaborated with MGM to create a resident
show at the Luxor 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
, 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
Idaho and Newfoundland and Labrador.
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
at the WaMu Theater in New York City's Madison Square
Gardens and scheduled to run for 10 weeks each winter from
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
) 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
begins in three different streets of the downtown
area and mixes under the highways. It has been well received by the
public and media.
- November 2009: Cirque has
announced a limited-run vaudeville-based
seasonal residency show called Banana
Shpeel to come to the Chicago Theater in Chicago 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.
- 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'
CityCenter'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
- April 2010: A new touring production,
Cirque 2010 (working title) will be created and directed
by past collaborator Robert Lepage (KÀ), as confirmed by
Cirque CEO Daniel Lamarre.
- Cirque has announced an annual seasonal show
to be installed at Radio City Music Hall 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
2010 to be held in Shanghai,
- 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.
- 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
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
- 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
- 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 2008 in Zaragoza, Spain.
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
Primetime Emmy Award
Cirque du Soleil Fire Within
(in 2003) and three Primetime
Emmy Awards for Cirque du Soleil Presents Dralion
||A look into the creation of Nouvelle Experiénce. Out
||A behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of
Saltimbanco. Out of print.
||A Baroque Odyssey
||A 10-year anniversary retrospective.
||The Truth of Illusion
||Documentary about the production Alegria. Out of
||Full Circle: The Making of Quidam
||A behind-the-scenes look at the making of Quidam
||Film adaptation directed by Franco
Dragone. This film was based loosely on the touring show.
||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.
||Inside La Nouba: From Conception to Perception
||Highlights of the show and interviews with creators.
||A 13-episode inside look into the creation and production of
Varekai shown on Bravo.
||A Parody of Varekai show acted by the technical crew
only for the actual artists (actors) DVD.
||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.
||A 13-episode series using various acts from Cirque du Soleil
and other productions shown on Bravo. Each episode has a
||A documentary which explores the production of KÀ by following
the show’s evolution from early rehearsals through to the first
||Filmed over two years and set in Las Vegas during the creation
of the cabaret-style production, Zumanity.
||A homage to the artists of "O" that provides an in-depth
documentary of the Las Vegas aquatic extravaganza.
||The Mystery of Mystère
||A documentary about Mystère, the critically acclaimed
theatrical production playing at the permanent location at the
Treasure Island Resort.
||A Thrilling Ride through KOOZA
||A short documentary filmed during the creation period of
||Filmed exclusively for German national TV channel, ZDF.
||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.
||A documentary about the making of LOVE.
In November 2003, a US federal discrimination complaint was filed
against Cirque du Soleil by Lambda Legal Defense and
on behalf of gymnast Matthew Cusick. The
allegation was that in April 2002, they fired Cusick because he
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".
additional complaint was filed on Cusick's behalf by the San Francisco Human Rights
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.
- Collins, Glenn Run Away to the Circus? No need.
It's Staying Here article, New York Times, April 28, 2009
- Official Cirque du Soleil Website
- Official Cirque du Soleil Press Release, August 6,
- Carnivàle Lune Bleue (home to the original 1984 Cirque du
Soleil Big Top).
- Cirque du Soleil webpage information
- Official Cirque du Soleil Criss Angel BELIEVE
- Cirque and Angel's 'Believe' delayed | The Movable
Buffet | Los Angeles Times
- Chris Lee, Criss Angel believes that you will too, Los
Angeles Times, October 12, 2008, Accessed January 21,
- Doug Elfman, Angel's 'Believe' magic: Miffed fans disappear,
Las Vegas Review-Journal, September 29, 2008, Accessed
November 4, 2008.
- Richard Abowitz, Criss Angel's 'Believe' hard to believe,
LATimes.com, October 31, 2008, Accessed November 4, 2008.
- Joe Brown, Illusion is elusive in Angel’s ‘Believe’,
Los Angeles Times, November 1, 2008, Accessed November 4,
- Cirque du Soleil Official website.
- Playbill.com, October 23, 2009
- Canoe.com newswire on Cirque's 2008 year-end report
and Elvis production, December 15, 2008 (in French)
- Press release containing future Cirque show
- Official CKX, Inc. Press Release on The Elvis
Presley Projects with Cirque du Soleil
- Kathleen Lavoie, Le Soleil article November 1, 2008
- Official Cirque du Soleil Canada Pavilion Expo 2010
- Official Cirque du Soleil Los Angeles 2010 Press
- McArthur, Rachel. "Cirque on the Palm by 2012." March 7,
- Official Cirque du Soleil in Dubai 2010 Press
Release. May 1, 2007.
- "Cirque du Soleil Show Dubai." Destination360.
Retrieved November 4, 2009.
- Cirque du Soleil to perform in Super Bowl XLI pregame
show published 9 January 2006