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Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil Inc.
Private company
Industry Entertainment
Founded 1984
Founder Guy Laliberté
Gilles Ste-Croix
Daniel Gauthier
Headquarters Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Area served
Key people
Daniel Lamarre, President and CEO
Revenue 11px C$850 million (FY 2010)[1]
Number of employees
Divisions Cirque du Soleil Images, Cirque du Soleil's Merchandising
Subsidiaries Cirque du Soleil Musique

Cirque du Soleil (Template:IPA-fr, "Circus of the Sun") is a Canadian entertainment company. It is the largest theatrical producer in the world.[2] Based in 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 Gilles Ste-Croix.[3]

Initially named Les Échassiers (Template:IPA-fr, "The Waders"), they toured Quebec in 1980 as a performing troupe. Their initial financial hardship was relieved in 1983 by a government grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, as part of the 450th anniversary celebrations of Jacques Cartier's voyage to Canada.[4] 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.[5]

Each show is a synthesis of circus styles from around the world, with its own central theme and storyline. Shows employ continuous live music, with performers rather than stagehands changing the props. After financial successes and failures in the late 1980s, Nouvelle Expérience was created – with the direction of Franco Dragone – which not only made Cirque du Soleil profitable by 1990, but allowed it to create new shows.[6]

Cirque du Soleil expanded rapidly through the 1990s and 2000s, going from one show to 19 shows in over 271 cities on every continent except Antarctica. The shows employ approximately 4,000 people from over 40 countries and generate an estimated annual revenue exceeding US$810 million.[7][8] The multiple permanent Las 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 du Soleil's shows worldwide.[8] In 2000, Laliberté bought out Gauthier, and with 95% ownership, has continued to expand the brand.[9] In 2008, Laliberté split 20% of his share equally between two investment groups Istithmar World and Nakheel of Dubai, in order to further finance the company's goals. In partnership with these two groups, Cirque du Soleil had planned to build a residency show in the United Arab Emirates in 2012 directed by Guy Caron (Dralion) and Michael Curry.[10] But since Dubai's financial problems in 2010 caused by the 2008 recession, it was stated by Laliberté that the project has been "put on ice"[11] for the time being and may be looking for another financial partner to bankroll the company's future plans, even willing to give up another 10% of his share.[11] 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.[12] Cirque du Soleil also produces a small number of private and corporate events each year (past clients have been the royal family of Dubai and the 2007 Super Bowl).[13]

The company's creations have received numerous prizes and distinctions, including a Bambi Award in 1997, a Rose d'Or in 1989, three Drama Desk Awards in 1991, 1998 and 2013, three Gemini Awards, four Primetime Emmy Awards,[14][15] and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[16] In 2000, Cirque du Soleil was awarded the National Arts Centre Award, a companion award of the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards.[17] In 2002, Cirque du Soleil was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.

In 2015, TPG Capital, Fosun Capital Group and Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec purchased 90% of Cirque du Soleil.[18]


A new idea became to come shape 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 home to Canada in 1979, he had learned the art of fire breathing. Although he became "employed" at a hydroelectric power plant in James Bay, 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.[6][9]

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 Script error: No such module "convert". 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 du Soleil, Les Échassiers toured Quebec during the summer of 1980.[19][20]

Although well received by audiences and critics alike, Les Échassiers 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.[19]

This touring festival, called "La Fête Foraine", first took place in July 1982. La Fête 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.[21] Laliberté managed and produced the fair over the next couple years, nurturing it into a moderate financial success. But it was in 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".[6][22]


The duration of each touring show was traditionally split into two acts of an hour each separated by a 30-minute interval, however as of 2014 due to cost cutting issues, the show have now been reduced to a shorter 55 minute first act followed by a 50-minute second act, still followed by a 30-minute interval; in most cases some acts were shortened by a small amount however in the case of Totem, the Perches act was cut out. Permanent shows however are usually 90 minutes in length without any intermission; Note: This excludes Joya (the permanent show in Riviera Maya, Mexico) which is only 70 minutes in length. Typically touring shows as well as resident shows will perform a standard 10 shows a week, however touring shows usually have one 'dark-day' (where there are no performances) whilst resident shows will have two.

Le Grand Tour du Cirque du Soleil

On stage at the 1993 finale of Nouvelle Expérience.

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 caused 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.[6]

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. 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.[6]

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.[23]

La Magie Continue

After securing funding from the Canadian government for a second year, Laliberté took steps to renovate Cirque du Soleil 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' 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.[6][24]

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 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.[6]

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 Niagara Falls turned out to be equally problematic.

Several factors prevented the company 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.[6]

Le Cirque Réinventé

In 1987, 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, the company would not have had enough money to get their performers and equipment back to Montreal.[6][25]

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 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.[12]

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.[6]

Laliberté sought out Gilles Ste-Croix as replacement for the artistic director position. Ste-Croix, who had been away from the company 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.[6]


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 Network. Taking acts from Nouvelle Expérience and Cirque Réinventé, they created a show for this tour, titled Fascination. Although Fascination was never seen outside of Japan, it represented the first time that Cirque du Soleil 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.[6]

Knie Presents Cirque du Soleil

Also in 1992, Cirque du Soleil made its first collaboration with Switzerland's Circus Knie in a production named "Knie Presents Cirque du Soleil" that ran for nine months from March 20 to November 29, 1992 through 60 cities in Switzerland, opening in Rapperswil and closing in Bellinzona.
File:Knie Presents Cirque du Soleil.jpg
The stage for "Knie Presents Cirque du Soleil in 1992.
The show went in a bit of a different direction of Cirque du Soleil, as Circus Knie used animals in their shows, therefore the production merged Circus Knie's animal acts with Cirque du Soleil's purely acrobatic acts. The stage resembled that of Cirque du Soleil's previous shows La Magie Continue and Le Cirque Reinventé, though was modified to accommodate Circus Knie's animals. The show also featured acts seen previously in Le Cirque Reinventé, including:
  • The prologue
  • Les Pingouins (Korean plank)
  • Slack wire
  • Tower on Wheels
  • Trick cycling[6][26]

The 30th Anniversary Concert

Cirque du Soleil's 30th Anniversary Concert premiered at the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church in Montréal on December 13, 2014 and ran for a limited run until December 28. The show, unlike others, was solely a concert that featured a variety of songs from some of Cirque du Soleil's previous shows, rather than acrobatic feats. The 75-minute show featured a 30-person orchestra, a 70-person choir, and 8 veteran Cirque du Soleil singers as the focal point of the concert.[27]

Other shows

Name Premiere Venue Format Status
Nouvelle Expérience 1990-MAY-08 Touring Grand Chapiteau Retired
Saltimbanco 1992-APR-23 Touring Grand Chapiteau (1992 – 2006)
Arena (2007 – 2012)
Mystère 1993-DEC-25 Treasure Island, Las Vegas Resident Active
Alegría 1994-APR-21 Touring Grand Chapiteau (1994 - 2009)
Arena (2009 – 2013)
Quidam 1996-APR-23 Touring Grand Chapiteau (1996 - 2010)
Arena (since 2010)
O 1998-OCT-15 Bellagio, Las Vegas Resident Active
La Nouba 1998-DEC-23 Downtown Disney, Lake Buena Vista, Florida Resident Active
Dralion 1999-APR-22 Touring Grand Chapiteau (1999 - 2010)
Arena (2010 – 2015)
Varekai 2002-APR-22 Touring Grand Chapiteau (2002 - 2013)
Arena (since 2013)
Zumanity 2003-JUL-31 New York-New York, Las Vegas Resident Active
2005-FEB-03 MGM Grand, Las Vegas Resident Active
Corteo 2005-APR-21 Touring Grand Chapiteau (since 2005) Active
Delirium 2006-JAN-26 Touring Arena Retired
Love 2006-JUN-02 The Mirage, Las Vegas Resident Active
Koozå 2007-APR-19 Touring Grand Chapiteau (since 2007) Active
Wintuk 2007-NOV-01 Madison Square Garden, New York City Arena (seasonal) Retired
Zaia 2008-JUL-26 The Venetian Macao, Cotai Strip, Macau Resident Retired
Zed 2008-AUG-15 Tokyo Disney Resort, Tokyo, Japan Resident Retired
Criss Angel Believe 2008-SEP-26 Luxor, Las Vegas Resident Active
Ovo 2009-APR-23 Touring Grand Chapiteau (since 2009) Active
Banana Shpeel 2009-NOV-19 Touring Arena Retired
Viva Elvis 2009-DEC-16 Aria Resort and Casino, Las Vegas Resident Retired
Totem 2010-APR-22 Touring Grand Chapiteau (since 2010) Active
Zarkana 2011-JUN-29 Aria Resort and Casino, Las Vegas Arena (2011 - 2012)
Resident (since 2012)
Iris 2011-SEPT-25 Dolby Theatre, Los Angeles Resident Retired
Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour 2011-OCT-2 Touring Arena Retired
Amaluna 2012-APR-19 Touring Grand Chapiteau (since 2012) Active
Michael Jackson: One 2013-MAY-23 Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas Resident Active
Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities 2014-APR-24 Touring Grand Chapiteau (since 2014) Active
JOYÀ 2014-NOV-8 Riviera Maya, Mexico Resident Active
The Hommage Series: Beau Dommage 2015-JUL-15 Trois-Rivières, Québec Resident Coming Soon
TORUK - The First Flight 2015-NOV-20 Touring Arena Coming Soon

Future productions

  • TORUK - The First Flight is a new arena touring show based on James Cameron's Avatar and was announced on Thursday, May 29, 2014. The tour will open in November 2015 in Lafayette, ahead of the release of Avatar 2.[28]
  • A new resident show titled 'The Homage Series: Beau Dommage' was announced on February 2, 2015 which "will be inspired by the body of work and rich musical universe produced by Beau Dommage". It will premier on July 15, 2015 at Amphithéâtre Cogeco in Trois-Rivières (Québec) and is being directed by Daniel Fortin.
  • In a collaboartion with NBC, Cirque du Soleil will help produce both a live-television broadcast and Broadway revival of The Wiz. The broadcast will premiere December 2015 on NBC, the revival following soon after in the 2016-2017 season. Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon will direct both productions alongside Tony winner and Broadway icon Harvey Fierstein, who will be contributing new material to the original Broadway book. Casting and additional creative team announcements will be made at a later date.[29]


Cirque du Soleil will begin staging shows on Broadway at the Lyric Theatre beginning in 2016. The Lyric Theatre is owned by London's Ambassador Theatre Group.[30] The first presentation will be a revival of the original 1975 Broadway musical The Wiz.[31]

Other works


  • Cirque du Monde: a social action project designed to reach marginalized youth.[32]
  • Jukari Fit to Fly: A fitness program promoted cooperatively with Reebok.
  • Safewalls: An artistic project curated by Cirque du Soleil that is bringing time-honoured circus posters into the 21st century by pairing up with renowned international street art and lowbrow artists.[33][34]
  • Cultural Action Art Exhibitions: As part of its Cultural Action programs, Cirque du Soleil offers artists the opportunity to exhibit at its Montreal Headquarters and at its Las Vegas offices. Artists who have participated include: France Jodoin, Dominique Fortin-Mues, Laurent Craste and Dominic Besner.
  • Desigual inspired by Cirque du Soleil: Cirque du Soleil has partnered with Desigual fashion design to develop a clothing collection which will include 60 items of clothing and accessories. The clothing will be made available at Desigual stores as well as Cirque du Soleil show boutiques.[35]
  • Movi.Kanti.Revo: in association with Google, Cirque du Soleil has released an extension to Google Chrome, meant to bring some of Cirque du Soleil's imagination to the browser.[36]

Special events

Cirque du Soleil had a "Special Events" team which coordinates various events, both public and private. As of 7 April 2015, it has formed a separate company (still associated with Cirque) called 45 degrees which is being led by Yasmine Khalil.[37]

Date Name or Event Location Notes
24 March 2002 74th Academy Awards Los Angeles
23x15px United States
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 du Soleil 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.[38]
11 July 2004 Soleil de Minuit
(Midnight Sun)
23x15px Canada
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.[39]
2004–2005 A Taste of Cirque du Soleil Celebrity Cruises 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.[40][41]
15 July 2005 Reflections in Blue Montreal
23x15px Canada
A unique one-night water show in Montreal as part of the opening ceremonies for the 2005 World Aquatics Championships.[42]
26 July 2006 2006 World Outgames Rome
23x15px Italy
Cirque created this unique 60 minute show for the Fiat Bravo launch under the direction of Jean-François Bouchard and Michel Laprise. It included eight numbers, most of them adapted for the event, as well as characters, choreographies and a grand finale: the unveiling of the car, which featured horses, a 40-car carrousel, fire performers and fireworks.
January 2007 'Circle' Fiat Bravo Launch Montreal
23x15px Canada
Cirque du Soleil paid tribute to athletes from every possible background and celebrated diversity by bringing to the event a poetic universe of breathtaking performances combining spectacular feats, strength and dexterity. Directed by Michel Laprise
4 February 2007 One Day, One Game, One Dream Miami Gardens, Florida
23x15px United States
Produced by David Saltz, this was performed during the Super Bowl XLI pre-game show.[43]
28 August 2007 The Venetian Macao Grand Opening Macau
23x15px Macau
The story we developed tells of a young traveler who arrives in Macau at daybreak, ready to provoke his destiny and embark on a new leg of his quest. Reflecting on his life, he sets out to discover what fate has in store for him, but he does so by playing a more active role and testing his own abilities.
7 December 2007 Prêmio Craque do Brasileirão 23x15px Brazil Cirque du Soleil took part in the celebration. Their artists performed acts from various shows.
2008 The Awakening of the Serpent Zaragoza
23x15px Spain
Cirque du Soleil participated in the presentation of a daily parade spectacle called The Awakening of the Serpent at Expo 2008 in Zaragoza, Spain.
17 October 2008 400th anniversary of Québec Quebec
23x15px Canada
Cirque du Soleil celebrates Quebec City’s 400th Anniversary by creating a very special performance staged at the Colisée Pepsi (Pepsi Coloseum) in Quebec City. Directed by Michel Laprise
5 December 2008 Il Sogno Di Volare
(The dream to Fly)
23x15px Italy
During the white night of Lecce. The show is developed to today only, it's had in fact an exhibition in Saint Oronzo Plaza. In such show, inspired to Leonardo da Vinci and Cristoforo Colombo, the Baroque plaza has developed the role of scenography of the show.[44]
16 May 2009 Eurovision Song Contest 2009 Moscow
23x15px Russia
Cirque du Soleil was the opening act of the song contest, along with Dima Bilan who sung "Believe." They performed a spectacle called "Prodigal Son."
2009 Les Chemins invisibles Quebec City
23x15px Canada
The first year of Les Chemins invisibles was "The Enriched Encounter."
2010 Expo 2010 Shanghai
23x15px China
Cirque du Soleil co-created the Canada Pavilion in association with the Government of Canada for Expo 2010 in Shanghai, China, which was available for viewing from May to September 2010.[45]
14 June 2010 2010 FIBA World Championship Istanbul
23x15px Turkey
Cirque du Soleil created and performed a 10-minute presentation for the Opening Ceremony of the FIBA 2010 World Championship with acts spanning from La Nouba, to Quidam, Dralion, Kooza and Varekai. It was directed by Michel Laprise who has directed many such special events
28 August 2010 Les Chemins invisibles Quebec City
23x15px Canada
The second year of Les Chemins invisibles was the "Furrow of Dreams."
2010 Les Chemins invisibles Quebec City
23x15px Canada
The second year of Les Chemins invisibles was the "Furrow of Dreams."
2011 Les Chemins invisibles Quebec City
23x15px Canada
The third year of Les Chemins invisibles was "The Tin Kingdom."
5 February 2012 Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show Indianapolis
23x15px United States
During the halftime show, some artists performed with Madonna, using the slackline.
26 February 2012 84th Academy Awards Los Angeles
23x15px United States
Over 50 artists performed a routine, scored by Danny Elfman, during the 84th Academy Awards in the Dolby Theatre.[46][47]
2012 Les Chemins invisibles Quebec City
23x15px Canada
The fourth year of Les Chemins invisibles was "The Pixel Frontier."
22 September 2012 2012 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup Baku
23x15px Azerbaijan
Opening ceremony at Tofiq Bahramov Stadium in Baku.[48]
2013 Les Chemins invisibles Quebec City
23x15px Canada
The fifth and final year of Les Chemins invisibles was "The Harbor of Lost Souls."
13 June - 3 August 2013 Scalada Andorra
23x15px Andorra
A free, summer seasonal open-air event, developed by Cirque du Soleil for the Principality of Andorra, that depicted the competitiveness of the four seasons.
5 July - 2 August 2014 Scalada Mater Natura Andorra
23x15px Andorra
A summer seasonal open-air event; the second year is entitled "Mater Nature," directed and choreographed by Stéphane Boko.[49]
1 May - 31 October 2015 Allavita! Expo Milano 2015 Milan
23x15px Italy
This special, tailor-made show will feature a fascinating tale, interwoven with music and dance with the main inspiration stemming from the deep union between Food and Life (the theme for the expo).
4 July - 1 August 2015 Scalada Storia Andorra
23x15px Andorra
The third part in this series will show you the country's more mysterious side and take you on an acrobatic and metaphorical journey of the legends of Andorra.
10 July 2015 Pan American Games 2015 Toronto
23x15px Canada
Cirque du Soleil, is bringing its special blend of stagecraft, thrilling acrobatic athleticism and colourful cultural pageantry to an original production created especially for the Opening Ceremony of the Pan Am Games 2015.


In October 2011, the Cirque du Soleil was reported to be interested in purchasing Maison Alcan, as part of a diversification strategy.[50]

Grand chapiteau tours

File:Circo del Sol.JPG
Night shot of Quidam's Grand Chapiteau in Barcelona, Spain.

Cirque du Soleil shows normally tour under a Grand Chapiteau (i.e. big top) for an extended period of time until they are modified, if necessary, for touring in arenas and other venues. The company's grands chapiteaux are easily recognizable by their blue and yellow coloring. The infrastructure that tours with each show could easily be called a mobile village; it includes the Grand Chapiteau, a large entrance tent, artistic tent, kitchen, school, and other items necessary to support the cast and crew.[51]

The tour has great financial impacts to the cities which they visit by renting out lots for shows, parking spaces, selling and buying promotions, and contributing to local economy in manners of hotel stays, purchasing food, and hiring local help. For example, during its stay in Santa Monica, California, Koozå brought an estimated US$16,700,000 ($18,357,825 in 2020) to the city government and local businesses.[52]


  • The site takes around eight days to construct and three days to pack up.
  • Anywhere from 50–75 large tractor-trailer containers are necessary to transport the vast amount of equipment. Totem, for example, requires 65 such containers to transport Script error: No such module "convert"..
  • Five generators are used to provide electricity to the site.

Grand chapiteau

  • Totem's canvas tent is constructed by Les Voileries du Sud-Ouest and weighs approximately Script error: No such module "convert"..
  • The tent is Script error: No such module "convert". and is Script error: No such module "convert". in diameter.
  • A single performance can seat more than 2,600 spectators.

Other tents

  • The Entrance Tent holds the concessions and merchandise.
  • The Tapis Rouge is for VIP guests (up to 250) and is also available for private functions.
  • The Artistic Tent for the performers houses the wardrobe area, a fully equipped training area, and a physiotherapy room.


  • Used as the primary commons area, the kitchen serves 200–250 meals a day (6 days a week).


Cirque du Soleil has started to take on new forms of entertainment by creating bar lounges.[53] As of early 2011, they have partnered with The Light Group to create their lounge concepts.


Revolution is a Script error: No such module "convert". lounge concept designed for The Mirage resort in Las Vegas, in which cast members perform to the music of The Beatles.[54] Cirque du Soleil drew inspiration from the Beatles' lyrics to design some of the lounge's features. For instance, the ceiling is decorated with 30,000 dichroic crystals, representing "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". The VIP tables use infrared technology which allows guests to create artwork which is then projected onto amorphic columns.[55]

Gold Lounge

Cirque du Soleil's second lounge is the Gold Lounge, which is located in the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas and is Script error: No such module "convert"..[56] The design is reminiscent of Elvis' mansion, Graceland, and black and gold are utilized extensively throughout the décor. The bar has the same shape as the bar in the Elvis mansion as well.[53] The music played here changes throughout the night including upbeat Classic rock, commercial House music, upbeat Elvis remixes, minimal hip-hop, Top 40, and Pop.[57]

Light Night Club

In May 2013 The Light Group opened the nightclub LIGHT at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, costing $25 million. LIGHT is a partnership with Cirque du Soleil,[58] and the first time Cirque du Soleil worked as part of a nightclub.[59] [60] Among other features the club has a large wall of LED screens, and the room is illuminated with fog, lasers and strobes.[58] DJs at the events include charting artists such as Kaskade and Tiesto, with prices ranging from $30 to $10,000 for certain table placements.[58]

Theme Park

On November 12, 2014, Cirque du Soleil, Grupo Vidanta, and Goddard Group announced plans for a theme park in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico. The plans call for at least two lands, the Village of the Sun and the Village of the Moon, as well as an outdoor evening show accommodating as many as 3,000 to 5,000 spectators, and may include a water park and nature park elements.[61][62][63]



Cirque du Soleil Images creates original products for television, video and DVD and distributes its productions worldwide.

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 Dralion (in 2001).

Year Title Notes
1988 La Magie Continue A film adaptation of the production La Magie Continue. Filmed live in Toronto in 1986.
1990 Le Cirque Réinventé A film adaptation of the production Le Cirque Réinventé. Filmed live in Montréal in 1988.
1991 Quel Cirque A look into the creation of Nouvelle Expérience. Either out of print or never released.
1992 Nouvelle Expérience A film adaptation of the production Nouvelle Expérience. Filmed in live Toronto in 1991.
1992 Saltimbanco's Diary A behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of Saltimbanco. Either out of print or never released.
1994 Saltimbanco Film adaptation of Saltimbanco as directed by Jacques Payette. Filmed live in Atlanta in 1993.
1994 A Baroque Odyssey A 10-year anniversary retrospective. Additional film shot in Montréal.
1994 The Truth of Illusion Documentary about the production Alegría. Filmed in Montréal in 1994. Out of print.
1996 Full Circle: The Making of Quidam A behind-the-scenes look at the making of Quidam. Filmed in Montréal in 1996. Out of print.
1999 Quidam A film adaption of the production Quidam as directed by David Mallet. Filmed live in Amsterdam in 1999.
1999 Alegría, the Film A fictional story loosely inspired by the stage production Alegría, directed by Franco Dragone.
1999 In the Heart of Dralion Behind the scenes of Dralion. Released along with the Dralion film adaptation DVD.
2000 Journey of Man A compilation of acts from various Cirque du Soleil 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. Out of print.
2001 Dralion A film adaptation of the production Dralion, directed by Guy Caron and David Mallet. Filmed live in San Francisco in 2000.
2001 Alegría A film adaptation of the production Alegría, as directed by Nick Morris. Filmed live in Sydney in 2001.
2002 Varekai Film adaptation of the touring show Varekai, directed by Dominic Champagne and Nick Morris. Filmed live in Toronto in 2002.
2002 Cirque du Soleil: Fire Within A 13-episode inside look into the creation and production of Varekai shown on Bravo. Filmed mainly in Montréal.
2003 Whatever 'Stie A parody of Varekai show acted by the technical crew only for the actual artists (actors) DVD.
2003 La Nouba A film adaptation of the production show La Nouba, directed by David Mallet. Filmed live in Orlando in 2003.
2004 Midnight Sun Filmed live at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal on July 11, 2004, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal 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. Filmed in Montréal in 2003.
2005 Kà Extreme A documentary which explores the production of by following the show's evolution from early rehearsals through to the first public performance.
2006 Corteo Film adaptation of the touring show Corteo, directed by Jocelyn Barnabé. Filmed live in Toronto in 2005.
2006 Lovesick Filmed over two years and set in Las Vegas during the creation of the cabaret-style production, Zumanity. Filmed in Las Vegas.
2007 Flow: A Tribute to the Artists of "O" A homage to the artists of "O" that provides an in-depth documentary of the Las Vegas aquatic extravaganza. Filmed in Las Vegas in 2007.
2007 The Mystery of Mystère A documentary about Mystère, the critically acclaimed theatrical production playing at the permanent location at the Treasure Island Resort. Filmed in Las Vegas in 2007.
2007 A Thrilling Ride through Koozå A short documentary filmed during the creation period of Koozå. Filmed in Montréal in 2007.
2007 Kà - Backstage Filmed exclusively for French language TV channel Arte and the German national TV channel, ZDF.[64] The performance in its entirety was broadcast on the latter.
2008 Koozå Film adaptation of the touring show Koozå, directed by Mario Janelle. Filmed live in Toronto in 2007.
2008 Delirium The last performance of Delirium was filmed in London. This film was released in limited theatrical runs on August 20 and October 15, 2008.
2008 All Together Now A documentary about the making of Love.
2010 Zed in Tokyo A documentary filmed during the creation period of the Tokyo residency show, Zed.
2010 Flowers in the Desert A look at all the Vegas shows including Viva Elvis.
2011 Crossroads in Macao A documentary filmed during the creation period of the Macao residency show, Zaia. Filmed in Macau in 2010.
2012 Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away Cirque du Soleil partnered with James Cameron and Andrew Adamson in association with Reel FX Entertainment to produce this 3D motion picture.[65] Distributed worldwide by Paramount Pictures on December 21, 2012, the film tells the story of a girl named Mia going to a traveling circus and falling in love with its main attraction, the Aerialist. After the Aerialist falls during his act, he and Mia are transported to another world where each encounter the different worlds of Cirque du Soleil through O, Mystère, , Love, Zumanity, Viva Elvis and Criss Angel Believe.[66]
2013 Amaluna Film adaptation of the touring show Amaluna, directed by Mario Janelle. Filmed live in Toronto in 2012.
2015 Cirque du Soleil: Le Grand Concert A film adaptation of The 30th Anniversary Concert, produced by Echo Media exclusively for French Canadian TV language channel Ici Radio-Canada Télé. Filmed live in Montréal in 2014.[67][68]

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.[69] 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 du Soleil 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 his infecting other performers, crew or audience members.[70] 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".[71]

An additional complaint was filed on Cusick's behalf by the San Francisco 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.[72]

Although Cirque du Soleil's position remains that this was a safety issue, not a discrimination issue, they settled with Cusick on April 22, 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.[69][71]

Cirque du Soleil opposed Neil Goldberg and his company Cirque Productions over its use of the word "Cirque" in the late 1990s. Goldberg's company was awarded a trademark on its name "Cirque Dreams" in 2005.[73][74]

In August 1999, Fremonster Theatrical filed an application for the trademark Cirque de Flambe. This application was opposed by the owners of the Cirque du Soleil trademark in August 2002, on the grounds that it would cause confusion and "[dilute] the distinctive quality" of Cirque du Soleil's trademarks. A judge dismissed the opposition and the Cirque de Flambe trademark application was approved in 2005.[75][76]


In 2009, Oleksandr Zhurov, a 24 year old from Ukraine, fell off a trampoline while training at one of the company's Montreal facilities. He died from head injuries sustained in the accident.[77]

The first death during a performance occurred on June 29, 2013. Acrobat Sarah Guyard-Guillot, from Paris, France, was killed after she fell fifty feet into an open pit at the MGM Grand during the show. After the fall, everyone on the stage looked "visually scared and frightened". Then the audience could hear her groans and screams from the floor.[78][79]


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External links

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