Cirque du Soleil
(pronounced: [si?k dy s?.l?j\], "Circus of the Sun") is a Canadian entertainment company, self-described as a "dramatic mix of circus arts and street entertainment". It is the largest theatrical producer in the world. 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.Initially named Les Échassiers
([lez?e.?a.sje\], "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. 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. 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.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. 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. In 2000, Laliberté bought out Gauthier, and with 95% ownership, has continued to expand the brand. 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. 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" 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. 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 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).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, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.Overview
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 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.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.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 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.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
.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.
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.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.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 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.
In that same year, Cirque du Soleil 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
and launched it in 1990.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 Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. By the end of 1990, the company was profitable again and was prepared to start a new show.
Created in 1992, Saltimbanco
was the first Cirque du Soleil show to narrow its focus to a specific theme. Franco 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, "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."Saltimbanco
(whose title literally means "acrobat" in Italian, from "saltare in banco", meaning "to jump on a bench") was well received. Featuring 47 artists, the cast was assembled from the citizens of 15 different countries.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.On February 1, 1997, Saltimbanco
was temporarily retired, playing its final show at London's Royal Albert Hall. The next year, the show was revived and began a three-year tour throughout Asia and the Pacific. From 2002 through mid-2005, Saltimbanco
toured cities throughout Europe. It went on to become the first Cirque du Soleil show to tour Central and South America. The show's final performance under the big top took place in Rio de Janeiro on December 10, 2006.Saltimbanco
was subsequently restaged to be performed in arena venues and re-launched in July 2007, visiting areas that Cirque du Soleil had previously been unable to visit with tent shows. From 2007 through 2012, the arena version toured to cities in North America, Europe, Africa, Oceania, and Asia. The final performance of Saltimbanco'
s arena tour took place in Montreal on 30 December 2012. As of its retirement in 2012, 20 years after its premiere, it was the longest-running show that Cirque du Soleil had produced.
On December 25, 1993, as Cirque du Soleil 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
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 the 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 du Soleil's previously traditional style as well, relying on more "ethnic" music of Peruvian, African and east European inspiration.The show represented the company'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.
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
!' It's Spanish for 'Joy! Joy! Joy!' Where I come from (Italy), it's what you say when you're in pain. It means life goes on."Costing more than $3 million to produce, Alegría
makes use of darker lighting and music than previous Cirque du Soleil 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, Mississippi. Francesca Gagnon, who originally played 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 April 5, 2009, after a month-long engagement in Dubai. The show was then restaged in the arena format previously adopted by Delirium
. Premiering in Halifax on May 27, 2009, the arena version of Alegría
started a new three-year North American tour (2009-2011), followed by a tour of Europe (2011-2013).
Premiering in 1996, Quidam
continued the company's trend of bringing darker shows to the big top. Deriving its title from the Latin word for "a nameless passerby", Quidam
was Cirque du Soleil's ninth production and premiered in Montreal on April 23, 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.Designer Michel Crête and director 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. The production began a three-year tour of North America, followed by tours in Europe, Asia, and Oceania. By the time the thousandth performance was finished, more than 2.5 million people had 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, UK and Ireland. In 2009 and 2010, the show toured South America, starting in Brazil, then moving to Argentina, Chile, Peru and Colombia.In 2010, Quidam
converted to an arena format. The arena version has continued to tour throughout North America and Europe.
On October 19, 1998, at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip, the company 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 inside the hotel. As the company was getting more comfortable with theater productions, they wanted to create a show performed in the water, a concept that had not been tried in a theater before. O
(whose name was 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-US-gallon (5,680 m) 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 water which is approximately 84 °F (29 °C). Blowers were built into the stage to keep warm air circulating on the stage while a silent air movement system carried air at 55 °F (13 °C) underneath every seat in the theater. The combined systems keep both the performers and the audience at a comfortable temperature.
Later that same year in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, the company's third resident show was inaugurated at the Downtown Disney section of the Walt Disney World Resort. In a partnership with Disney's former CEO Michael Eisner, Cirque du Soleil created its first permanent freestanding theater to hold 1,671 attendees. Nearly 160 feet high (49 m) and designed to resemble a white tower with metal turrets on the outside, the 70,000-square-foot (6,500 m) 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. Set 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
, whose title originates from the French phrase faire la nouba
("to party"), juxtaposes two groups of characters: 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 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.
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.After a 13-year-long tour, Dralion
was briefly retired on January 17, 2010, after its engagement in Mexico, so that it could be converted into an arena format. It started touring again on October 21, 2010, with the first show playing in Trenton, New Jersey.
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 Dragone and Caron's intuitive approach to writing productions, 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 begins with the Greek myth of Icarus, picking up where the myth leaves off, reimagining 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.In December 2013, Varekai
was transferred to an Arena format similar to Alegría (Cirque du Soleil)
, and it premiered in the Arena format in Bossier City, LA and it is currently touring Canada and the US.
On September 20, 2003, Cirque du Soleil unveiled Zumanity
. This production is 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 René Richard Cyr and Dominic Champagne, Zumanity
is a departure from the standard Cirque du Soleil 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 Casino 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 with the other, more family-oriented Cirque du Soleil 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
Directed by Canadian theater veteran Robert Lepage, Kà
drew heavily on martial arts for its inspiration. The story centers around the adventures of a pair of imperial twins. Unlike most Cirque du Soleil productions, the story of Kà
was more concrete and linear, more narrative and less abstract. First premiering in November 2004 at the MGM Grand, KÀ
became the company's fourth resident show in Las Vegas. It was also the largest and most expensive production Cirque du Soleil had created to date. By the time it had been completed, KÀ
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.
Accidents and incidents
On June 29, 2013, cast member Sarah Guyard-Guillot, an acrobat from Paris, France, died after she apparently slipped free of her safety wire and plummeted to an open pit below the stage, falling approximately 50 feet (15 metres). She was taken to the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, where she was pronounced dead. It was the first reported death from an accident onstage in Cirque du Soleil's 30-year history.
is a Cirque du Soleil touring production that premiered in North America in 2005. Corteo
—"cortege" 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 Canada, in many ways Corteo
is a throwback to the older and more lighthearted Cirque du Soleil productions like Saltimbanco
.Directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca, founder of the Swiss theater company Teatro Sunil, Corteo
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 "Corteo Procession". There are entrance/exits at either side of the circular stage.
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 arena production that featured remixes of existing Cirque du Soleil 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 April 19, 2008, in the O2 Arena in London.
premiered in 2006 at The Mirage, 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 du Soleil 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
is a touring production that premiered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on April 19, 2007. The show's music is partly inspired by the music of India. 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 du Soleil's production of Nouvelle Expérience
. His experience as a clown and past work with Switzerland's Circus Knie informed his work on Koozå
. The show's title is derived from a Sanskrit word that means "magical container". It is also an anagram of the English word "kazoo".
was performed at the Theater at Madison Square Gardens in New York City and ran for 10 weeks each winter holiday season from 2007 to 2011 organised by architect Jason Hall . A family-based and specifically themed semi-permanent residency show, Wintuk
was 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. The show was formally retired after its final performance on January 2, 2011.
Based at The Venetian Macao, Cotai Strip, Zaia
was a 90-minute residency show that opened in August 2008, featuring 75 circus artists from around the world. It was directed by Neilson Vignola and Gilles Maheu.Zaia
depicted a young girl's dream of traveling through space, encountering a panoply of fantastic creatures. The title, Zaia
, came from a Greek name meaning "life" and was chosen in part for its resemblance to "Gaia", the spirit of Earth.Zaia
closed on February 19, 2012.
was a residency show at the Tokyo Disney Resort that opened on October 1, 2008. Film director François Girard created a show inspired by the Tarot and its arcana, with a narrative about the unification of the people of the sky and Earth. The show closed December 21, 2011, due to the economic impact caused by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
Criss Angel Believe
In late 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 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. Producers responded to these complaints by adding numerous additional illusions to the performance and revamping the show in April 2010.
(Portuguese for "egg"), was created and directed by Brazilian dancer/choreographer Deborah Colker – the first woman to create a Cirque du Soleil production. The show heavily relies on Brazilian music and some dance performances mixed in with the traditional circus arts; it premiered in Montreal in 2009 and is currently touring Taiwan and Japan. The show depicts a world of insects who go about their daily lives until a mysterious egg appears in their midst.
Banana Spheel was a touring theatre show which premiered on November 19, 2009, at the Chicago Theatre. The vaudeville-based show was directed by David Shiner, who also created Koozå
. The show only lasted for a very short time, only playing in Chicago, New York City, and Toronto. The show was eventually cancelled in 2010, due to the many complications and poor reviews it was receiving.
Viva ElvisViva Elvis
, developed in partnership with Elvis Presley Enterprises, began previews on December 18, 2009, in a specially designed, 2,000-seat theatre at the new Aria Resort & Casino at CityCenter in Las Vegas.CKX, Inc., the company that owns the rights to Elvis Presley's name, likeness, and music publishing, signed an agreement to have Cirque du Soleil create the Elvis-themed residency show. The gala premiere was originally scheduled for January 8, 2010 on what would have been Elvis' 75th birthday, but was postponed until February 19, 2010. The Elvis Presley Projects will include additional touring and its multimedia presentations, along with "Elvis Experiences" (interactive multimedia exhibits). The show ended its run on August 31, 2012, due to low attendance records.
is a touring show which premiered in Montreal on April 22, 2010. It was created and directed by previous collaborator Robert Lepage (Kà
). The show began its tour in Canada before heading to Europe. This was a change from the company's usual touring routes, the next stop usually being San Francisco, as Cirque du Soleil already had three touring shows (Ovo
) in the United States at the time.The company describes Totem'
s theme as the evolution of mankind from its primordial state toward the aspiration of flight, taking inspiration from many of mankind's founding myths.
began as a touring show in 2011 and was converted to a permanent show in Las Vegas in 2012. In its touring form, it played at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow, and the Madrid Arena in Madrid. The show began previews on June 9, 2011, at Radio City Music Hall and premiered on June 29, 2011. The show was written and directed by François Girard (director of the film The Red Violin
).On March 7, 2012, Cirque du Soleil announced that following its second Radio City Music Hall engagement, Zarkana
(in a shortened 90-minute version) would replace Viva Elvis
at the Aria Resort & Casino. Previews began on October 25 for a November 8, 2012 opening. Zarkana
is the biggest of Cirque du Soleil’s productions to date.
, a movie-themed permanent show directed by Philippe Decouflé, was the first show produced by Cirque du Soleil to be located in Los Angeles, California. It premiered on July 21, 2011, at the Dolby Theatre. The show takes a unique look at the history of cinema and its genres through the lens of dance, acrobatics, and contemporary circus arts. The name of the show, Iris
, refers to the diaphragm of movie cameras as well as the colored iris of the human eye. The production ran its final performance on January 19, 2013, due to poor ticket sales and marketing promotion. However, plans to bring Iris
to other cities are currently under discussion.
Michael Jackson: The Immortal World TourMichael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour
is a theatrical production that combines the music and vision of Michael Jackson with Cirque du Soleil's acrobatic performance style to create a rock concert experience. The arena show began its tour October 2, 2011, in Montreal and is currently touring the rest of the world. The tour is jointly owned by The Michael Jackson Company and Cirque du Soleil.
premiered April 19, 2012, in Montreal, QC. Created and directed by Diane Paulus, the story takes place on an island governed by goddesses and celebrates the power of womanhood. During a storm, a group of men are washed up on shore. The queen's daughter falls for one of the young men, and the trials of their love are the elements composing this production.
Michael Jackson: OneMichael Jackson: One
was announced to the public and media on February 21, 2013 for their second Michael Jackson-based production in Cirque du Soleil's roster, after Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour
that was launched in 2011; as a more theatrical version. In their continuing partnership with the Jackson estate, One
evokes the entertainer's creative genius in several manners. Guided and inspired by his music, four misfits set out on a transformative adventure. By journey's end, they will personify Jackson's agility, courage, playfulness and love. The production officially opened on June 21, 2013 in Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Like The Immortal World Tour
, this production was also written and directed by Jamie King
- A new touring show, Kurios is currently in the later stages of creation in Montreal, and is set to premiere on April 24, 2014. The concept features steampunk elements; Michel Laprise will be its creator and director.
- A new residency show, Cirque Riviera Maya (working title), is currently slated to open at the Riviera Maya resort in Mexico in November 2014 as a dinner show concept.
- Cirque du Monde: a social action project designed to reach marginalized youth.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Cirque du Soleil has a "Special Events" team which coordinates various events, both public and private.
In October 2011, the Cirque du Soleil was reported to be interested in purchasing Maison Alcan, as part of a diversification strategy.
Grand chapiteau tours
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.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 2014) to the city government and local businesses.
- 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 1,200 tonnes (1,180 long tons; 1,320 short tons).
- Five generators are used to provide electricity to the site.
- Totem's canvas tent is constructed by Les Voileries du Sud-Ouest and weighs approximately 5,227.3 kilograms (11,524 lb).
- The tent is 19 metres high (62 ft) and is 51 metres (167 ft) in diameter.
- A single performance can seat more than 2,600 spectators.
- 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. As of early 2011, they have partnered with The Light Group to create their lounge concepts.
is a 5,000-square-foot (500 m) lounge concept designed for The Mirage resort in Las Vegas, in which cast members perform to the music of The Beatles. 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.
Cirque du Soleil's second lounge is the Gold Lounge
, which is located in the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas and is 3,756 square feet (349 m). 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. 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.
Light Night Club
LIGHT, the first-ever nightclub turned on by Cirque du Soleil, merges cutting edge creativity with incredible music to produce the a new kind of nightlife experience. The chic, fashion-forward. TK-square foot venue featuring state-of-the-art production, theatricals and of course world-renowned DJs, will power up a new kind of passion and creativity, twisting the experience of a “night out” and to create a unique, memorable event each night.
- As part of the future resident show of the Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Cirque du Soleil plans to also construct a Michael Jackson-themed lounge, similar to the Gold Lounge at the Aria Resort & Casino and Revolution at The Mirage.