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Cirque du Soleil

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Cirque du Soleil
Private company
Founded7 July 1984; 35 years ago (1984-07-07)
FounderGuy Laliberté
Gilles Ste-Croix
Daniel Gauthier
Rachel Vertus
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Area served
Key people
Daniel Lamarre, President and CEO
RevenueIncrease C$850 million (FY 2010)[1]
Number of employees
DivisionsCirque du Soleil Images, Cirque du Soleil's Merchandising, Cirque du Soleil Events + Experiences
SubsidiariesCirque du Soleil Musique
Blue Man Group[2]

Cirque du Soleil (French: [sɪʁk dzy sɔ.lɛj], "Circus of the Sun" or "Sun Circus") is a Canadian (Quebecois) entertainment company and the largest contemporary circus producer in the world.[3] Based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and located in the inner-city area of Saint-Michel, it was founded in Baie-Saint-Paul on 7 July 1984, by two former street performers, Guy Laliberté and Gilles Ste-Croix.[4]

Initially named Les Échassiers ([lez‿e.ʃa.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.[5] 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 recreate 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. (The only two instances of animals in Cirque du Soleil shows are the snakes of Zumanity and the doves of Believe.[6])

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.[7]

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.[8][9] 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 worldwide.[9]

In 2000, Laliberté bought out Gauthier, and with 95% ownership, has continued to expand the brand.[10] 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.[11] However, following Dubai's financial problems in 2010 caused by the 2008 recession, Laliberté stated that the project had been "put on ice";[12] that he might be looking for another financial partner to bankroll the company's future plans; and that he might even consider giving up another 10% of his share in the company.[12] Several more shows are in development around the world, as well as a television deal, a women's clothing line, and possible ventures into other mediums such as spas, restaurants and nightclubs.[13] Cirque du Soleil also produces a small number of private and corporate events each year (past clients have included the royal family of Dubai and the 2007 Super Bowl).[14]

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;[15][16] and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[17] In 2000, Cirque du Soleil was awarded the National Arts Centre Award, a companion award of the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards.;[18] and in 2002 was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.

In 2015, TPG Capital, Fosun Industrial Holdings[19] and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec purchased 90% of Cirque du Soleil.[20] The sale received regulatory approval from the Government of Canada on 30 June 2015.[21]


At age 18, interested in pursuing some kind of performing career, Guy Laliberté quit college and left home. He toured Europe as a folk musician and busker. 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.[7][10]

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 56 miles (90 km) 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.[22][23]

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.[22]

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.[24] Laliberté managed and produced the fair over the next couple of 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".[7][25]


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 shows have now been reduced to a shorter 60-minute first act followed by a 50-minute second act, still including a 30-minute interval.[citation needed] Permanent shows are usually 90 minutes in length without any intermission. This excludes Joyà (the permanent show in Riviera Maya, Mexico), which is only 70 minutes in length. Typically touring shows as well as resident shows perform a standard 10 shows a week. Touring shows usually have one 'dark day' (with no performances) while resident shows have two.

Le Grand Tour du Cirque du Soleil[edit]

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. They 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.[7]

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.[7] 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.[26]

La Magie Continue[edit]

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.[7][27]

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.[7]

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 walked through downtown Toronto dressed in a monkey suit 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.[7]

Le Cirque Réinventé[edit]

In 1987, after Laliberté re-privatized Cirque du Soleil, it was invited to perform at the Los Angeles Arts Festival. Although the company 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.[7][28]

The company's 1987 show, titled Le Cirque Réinventé, presented a simple storyline about normal people accidentally stumbling into a magic circus where each of them is transformed into a performer or acrobat. The show featured returning characters like Michel Barrette's "Chef du Piste" from Le Grand Tour and La Magie Continue, Denis Lacombe's "Mad Conductor" from Le Grand Tour and La Magie Continue, Wayne Hronek's "Benny le Grand" from Le Grand Tour, and Gerardo Avila's "Catitan Cactus" from Le Grand Tour, along with new characters like "Panchito T. Morales" and Balthazar, who would later be in Fascination, the 1997-1998 tour of Alegría and La Nouba.

Cirque du Soleil's participation in the Los Angeles festival turned out to be a huge success, both critically and financially, and the show would go on to tour North America and England for over three years before ending its run in Paris in December 1990. 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 remained independent and privately owned for 28 years, until Laliberté announced in April 2015 that he was selling his majority stake to a group headed by a U.S. private equity firm, and its Chinese partners.[29][30]

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.[7]

Laliberté sought out Gilles Ste-Croix as a 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.[7]


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 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 time Cirque du Soleil performed outside of North America.[7] The narrative of Fascination was mostly the same as Cirque Réinventé but with different acts and characters. The Ringmaster character was now played by Brian Dewhurst in the same vein as his character from Nouvelle Expérience, and there were four new clowns: Francois Dupuis, who played a giant baby (later a main character in Mystère) and a banjo-playing Pierrot; Daniel le Bateleur, a man who dresses up like bugs, and previously performed in the 1988 tour of Cirque Réinventé; Michel "Balthazar" Deschamps, who had appeared in Cirque Réinventé and performed the same comic antics as before; and Miss Steak, a drag queen-like character. Acts recycled from Cirque Réinventé included the Pingouins performing on the Korean plank, and Eric Varelas and Amelie Demay performing a handbalancing tango. Acts borrowed from Nouvelle Expérience included the Contortion act (with two new performers, expanding its cast to six) and the Trapeze act.

Knie Presents Cirque du Soleil[edit]

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 toured for nine months from 20 March to 29 November 1992 through 60 cities in Switzerland, opening in Rapperswil and closing in Bellinzona. The production merged Circus Knie's animal acts with Cirque du Soleil's acrobatic acts. The stage resembled that of Cirque du Soleil's previous shows La Magie Continue and Le Cirque Reinventé, but 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[7][31]

Other shows[edit]

Name Premiere Venue Format Status
Nouvelle Expérience 8 May 1990 Tour Grand Chapiteau (1990 — 1993) Retired
Saltimbanco 23 April 1992 Tour Grand Chapiteau (1992 – 2006)
Arena (2007 – 2012)
Mystère 25 December 1993 Treasure Island, Las Vegas Resident (since 1993) Active
Alegría 21 April 1994 Tour Grand Chapiteau (1994 — 1999, 2001 — 2009)
Arena (2009 – 2013)
Quidam 23 April 1996 Tour Grand Chapiteau (1996 — 2010, 2015)
Arena (2009, 2010 – 2016)
O 15 October 1998 Bellagio, Las Vegas Resident (since 1998) Active
La Nouba 23 December 1998 Disney Springs, Lake Buena Vista, Florida Resident (1998 – 2017) Retired
Dralion 22 April 1999 Tour Grand Chapiteau (1999 — 2010)
Arena (2010 – 2015)
Varekai 24 April 2002 Tour Grand Chapiteau (2002 — 2013, 2017)
Arena (2013 — 2017)
Zumanity 31 July 2003 New York-New York, Las Vegas Resident (since 2003) Active
26 November 2004 MGM Grand, Las Vegas Resident (since 2004) Active
Corteo 21 April 2005 Tour Grand Chapiteau (2005 — 2015)
Arena (since 2018)
Delirium 26 January 2006 Tour Arena (2006 — 2008) Retired
The Beatles Love 2 June 2006 The Mirage, Las Vegas Resident (since 2006) Active
Koozå 19 April 2007 Tour Grand Chapiteau (since 2007) Active
Wintuk 1 November 2007 Madison Square Garden, New York City Seasonal Resident (2007 — 2011) Retired
Zaia 26 July 2008 The Venetian Macao, Cotai Strip, Macau Resident (2008 — 2012) Retired
Zed 15 August 2008 Tokyo Disney Resort, Tokyo, Japan Resident (2008 — 2011) Retired
Criss Angel Believe 26 September 2008 Luxor, Las Vegas Resident (2008 — 2016) Retired
Ovo 23 April 2009 Tour Grand Chapiteau (2009 — 2015)
Arena (since 2016)
Banana Shpeel 19 November 2009 Tour Theatre (2009 — 2010) Retired
Viva Elvis 16 December 2009 Aria Resort and Casino, Las Vegas Resident (2009 — 2012) Retired
Totem 22 April 2010 Tour Grand Chapiteau (since 2010)
Arena (2017)
Zarkana 29 June 2011 Aria Resort and Casino, Las Vegas Arena (2011 — 2012)
Resident (2012 — 2016)
Iris 25 September 2011 Dolby Theatre, Los Angeles Resident (2011 — 2013) Retired
Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour 2 October 2011 Tour Arena (2011 — 2014) Retired
Amaluna 19 April 2012 Tour Grand Chapiteau (since 2012) Active
Michael Jackson: One 23 May 2013 Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas Resident (since 2013) Active
Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities 24 April 2014 Tour Grand Chapiteau (since 2014) Active
Joyà 8 November 2014 Riviera Maya, Mexico Resident (since 2014) Active
Toruk - The First Flight 12 November 2015 Tour Arena (2015 — 2019) Retired
Paramour 16 April 2016 Hamburg, Germany Theatre (2016 — 2017, 2019 — present) Active
Luzia 21 April 2016 Tour Grand Chapiteau (since 2016) Active
Séptimo Día - No Descansaré 9 March 2017 Tour Arena (2017 — 2018) Retired
Volta 20 April 2017 Tour Grand Chapiteau (since 2017) Active
Crystal 5 October 2017 Tour Arena (since 2017) Active
Bazzar 14 November 2018 Tour Grand Chapiteau (since 2018) Active
Alegría: In a New Light 18 April 2019 Tour Grand Chapiteau (since 2019) Active
X (The Land of Fantasy) 10 August 2019 Hangzhou, China Resident (since 2019) Active
Axel 4 October 2019 Tour Arena (since 2019) Active
Messi 10 10 October 2019 Tour Arena (since 2019) Active
R.U.N 24 October 2019 Luxor, Las Vegas Resident Active
'Twas The Night Before... 29 November 2019 The Chicago Theatre, Chicago (soft launch) and Madison Square Garden, New York City Seasonal Theatre Active
Drawn to Life 20 March 2020 Disney Springs, Lake Buena Vista, Florida Resident Coming Soon
Nysa 17 September 2020 Theater am Potsdamer Platz, Berlin Resident Coming Soon

Future ventures[edit]

  • Drawn to Life: Following the closure of La Nouba in December 2017, the Walt Disney Company announced that Cirque du Soleil will create a new show for Disney Springs named Drawn to Life, opening on 20 March 2020.[32]
  • Cirque du Soleil 2020: In October 2019, Cirque du Soleil announced the creation of their next touring tent production, set to premiere in Montreal on 23 April 2020. It will be directed, written, and set designed by Es Devlin.[33]
  • Nysa: In October 2019, Cirque du Soleil announced that it will open its first European resident show named Nysa in Berlin, Germany. It will premiere at the Theater am Potsdamer Platz on 17 September 2020, in co-production with Live Nation.[34]
  • Nuevo Vallarta resident show: In November 2019, Grupo Vidanta and Cirque du Soleil announced the creation of a second dinner theatre resident show in Mexico. The show, which will be performed in a specially-designed 600-seat theater in Nuevo Vallarta, will premiere in 2021.[35]
  • Dubai resident show: A production was originally scheduled to premiere in Dubai in 2011, but due to financial instability that hit Cirque du Soleil around that time (including their Middle Eastern investors Nakheel and Istithmar World pulling out of their partnership), they postponed the show. The 2011 show was meant to be directed by Guy Caron (director of Dralion and ) and Michael Curry (who specialises in puppetry and props), and was to be housed in a custom-built theatre that would seat 1,800 people on Palm Jumeirah (one of three man-made, palm-shaped islands in Dubai).[36] As part of the development for Expo 2020, the Marsa Al Arab project will involve the construction of a custom 1,700-seat theatre for a resident show on one of the two new islands being built next to Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. The show is expected to open in late 2020.[37][38]

Other works[edit]


  • Cirque du Monde: A social action project designed to reach marginalized youth.[39]
  • Safewalls[40][41]
  • 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 partnered with Desigual fashion design in 2011 to develop a collection of clothing and accessories, which was made available at Desigual stores and Cirque du Soleil show boutiques.[42]
  • Movi.Kanti.Revo: In association with Google, Cirque du Soleil released a Google Chrome extension in 2012, meant to bring some of Cirque du Soleil's imagination to the browser.[43]
  • Cirque du Soleil Theme Park: On 12 November 2014, Cirque du Soleil, Grupo Vidanta, and Goddard Group announced plans for a theme park in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico. The plans called 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.[44][45][46] The opening was initially delayed from 2018 to a mid-2019 opening.[47] Further delays subsequently pushed the projected opening date to 2020.[48]

Cirque du Soleil Events + Experiences[edit]

In April 2015, Cirque du Soleil's Special Events division, which had been responsible for coordinating various public and private events, formed a subsidiary company called 45 Degrees. Led by Yasmine Khalil, the new company continued to produce special events for Cirque du Soleil while expanding to offer creative content outside Cirque du Soleil as well.[49] 45 Degrees later merged with the C-Lab (creative laboratory) division of the main Cirque company, continuing to produce special event performances while also designing shows with new concepts (such as the dinner-show concept in Joya and the ice concept in Crystal).[50] In April 2019, Cirque du Soleil announced that the events and special projects subsidiary formerly known as 45 Degrees had become a division with the name "Cirque du Soleil Events + Experiences". The division's focus is the creation of "private events, tourist attractions, [...]large-scale productions" and other "bespoke live entertainment for an international clientele".[51]

Date Name or event Location Notes
1997–1999 Pomp Duck and Circumstance Hamburg [citation needed]
24 March 2002 74th Academy Awards Los Angeles 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 recreating the special effect scene featured in the film on stage while playing clips on a large screen behind the performances.[52]
11 July 2004 Soleil de Minuit
(Midnight Sun)
Montreal A one-night event in Montreal celebrating the 20th anniversary of Cirque du Soleil and the 25th anniversary of the Montreal International Jazz Festival.[53]
2004–2005 A Taste of Cirque du Soleil Celebrity Cruises A 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.[54][55]
15 July 2005 Reflections in Blue Montreal A unique one-night water show in Montreal as part of the opening ceremonies for the 2005 World Aquatics Championships.[56]
26 July 2006 2006 World Outgames Montreal [citation needed]
January 2007 Circle Fiat Bravo Launch Rome directed by Jean-François Bouchard and Michel Laprise[citation needed]
4 February 2007 One Day, One Game, One Dream Miami Gardens, Florida,
United States
Produced by David Saltz, this was performed during the Super Bowl XLI pre-game show.[57]
28 August 2007 The Venetian Macao Grand Opening Macau [citation needed].
7 December 2007 Prêmio Craque do Brasileirão Rio de Janeiro, Brazil [citation needed]
2008 The Awakening of the Serpent, Expo 2008 Zaragoza, Spain [citation needed]
17 October 2008 400th anniversary of Québec Quebec City, Canada [citation needed]
5 December 2008 Il Sogno Di Volare
(The Dream of Flying)
Lecce, Italy During the white night of Lecce, this show was performed in Saint Oronzo Plaza. The show was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci and Christopher Columbus.[58]
16 May 2009 Eurovision Song Contest 2009 Moscow [citation needed]
2009 Les Chemins invisibles Quebec City, Canada [citation needed]
2010 Expo 2010 Shanghai 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.[59]
14 June 2010 2010 FIBA World Championship Istanbul directed by Michel Laprise[citation needed]
28 August 2010 Les Chemins invisibles Quebec City, Canada [citation needed]
2011 Les Chemins invisibles Quebec City, Canada [citation needed]
5 February 2012 Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show Indianapolis,
United States
[citation needed]
26 February 2012 84th Academy Awards Los Angeles Over 50 artists performed a routine, scored by Danny Elfman, during the 84th Academy Awards in the Dolby Theatre.[60][61]
2012 Les Chemins invisibles Quebec City, Canada [citation needed]
22 September 2012 2012 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup Baku, Azerbaijan Opening ceremony at Tofiq Bahramov Stadium in Baku.[62]
2013 Les Chemins invisibles Quebec City, Canada [citation needed]
13 June–3 August 2013 Scalada Andorra [citation needed]
5 July–2 August 2014 Scalada: Mater Natura Andorra A summer seasonal open-air event; the second year was entitled Mater Nature, directed and choreographed by Stéphane Boko.[63]
13–28 December 2014 30th Anniversary Concert Montreal Cirque du Soleil's 30th Anniversary Concert was performed at the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church in Montreal in December 2014. The concert featured a variety of songs from Cirque du Soleil's previous shows. The 75-minute concert featured a 30-person orchestra, a 70-person choir, and 8 veteran Cirque du Soleil singers.[64]
1 May–31 October 2015 Allavita!, Expo Milano 2015 Milan [citation needed]
4 July–1 August 2015 Scalada: Storia Andorra la Vella, Andorra [citation needed]
10 July 2015 2015 Pan American Games opening ceremony Toronto [citation needed]
15 July–15 August 2015 Le Monde Est Fou Trois-Rivières [citation needed]
11 December 2015 Aditya Birla Awards for Outstanding Achievement 2015 India [65]
2–10 January 2016 Joel Barvikha, Moscow directed by Fernand Rainville.[citation needed]
6 February 2016 – Present La Forge aux étoiles Vienne, France Cirque du Soleil announced an aquatic evening show to replace the Lady O show at Futuroscope (a French theme park). This 45 Degrees production is performed 250 to 300 shows a year on a 7,000-square-metre (75,000 sq ft) outdoor aquatic stage with special effects such as laser projections, water fountains, pyrotechnics and fire.[66][67]
13 July–13 August 2016 Tout écartillé Trois-Rivières [citation needed]
2–30 July 2016 Scalada: Vision Andorra It was directed by Mukhtar Omar Sharif, an ex-cirque artist turned choreographer who had worked on projects including the Beijing Olympic Games opening and closing ceremonies and Cirque du Soleil's One Night for One Drop in 2013 and 2014.[68]
16 June – 9 September 2017 Reflekt Astana [citation needed]
1–30 July 2017 Scalada: Stelar Andorra [citation needed]
19 July–19 August 2017 Stone Trois-Rivières [citation needed]
18 July–18 August 2018 Les Colocs Trois-Rivières The fourth installment of the Série Hommage pays tribute to French-Canadian rock band Les Colocs and ran for a month at Amphithéâtre Cogeco in Trois-Rivières (Québec). The decision was somewhat controversial since Cirque du Soleil allegedly didn't inform at least some of the founding band members of Les Clocs, making the decision in "good faith", according to Cirque du Soleil's Senior Director of Public Relations, Marie-Hélène Lagacé. Mike Sawatzky claims he would have liked to have been consulted on the decision, but "it's [nothing] against Cirque du Soleil, it's (in fact) an honour". Cirque du Soleil stated its intentions to "desire to receive the contribution of (all involved in Les Colocs) so that this show renders sincerity and an authentic homage to the band".[69]
30 June–29 July 2018 Diva Andorra [citation needed]
18 February 2019 America's Got Talent: The Champions California [citation needed]
29 June–27 July 2019 Rebel Andorra [citation needed]

Lounges and nightclubs[edit]

As of October 2015, Cirque du Soleil renounced its intention to be involved in Las Vegas nightclubs and has since dissociated itself from all lounges and clubs listed below.[70] These lounges are no longer affiliated with Cirque du Soleil.

Revolution is a 5,000-square-foot (500 m2) lounge concept designed for The Mirage resort in Las Vegas, in which cast members perform to the music of The Beatles.[71] 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 that allows guests to create artwork, which is then projected onto amorphic columns.[72]

Cirque du Soleil's second lounge was the Gold Lounge, which is located in the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas and is 3,756 square feet (349 m2).[73] 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.[74] 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.[75]

In May 2013 The Light Group opened the Light nightclub in collaboration with Cirque du Soleil[76] at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, costing $25 million. Light was the first time Cirque du Soleil worked as part of a nightclub.[77] Among other features the club has a large wall of LED screens, and the room is illuminated with fog, lasers and strobes.[76] DJs at the events include charting artists such as Kaskade and Tiesto, with prices ranging from $30 to $10,000 for certain table placements.[76]

Luna Petunia[edit]

It was announced on 11 October 2014 that in partnership with Saban Brands, Cirque du Soleil Media would produce an animated series for preschool-aged children called Luna Petunia and the showrunner was announced as children's TV writer Bradley Zweig. The plot revolves around a little girl who plays in a dreamland where she learns how to make the impossible possible. It began airing on Netflix in September 2016.[78] On 1 May 2018, Saban Brands sold Luna Petunia to Hasbro.[79]

The Wiz[edit]

In a collaboration with Universal Television and Sony Pictures Television, Cirque du Soleil co-produced the television broadcast of The Wiz Live! (based on the musical of the same name) which aired in December 2015 on NBC. Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon directed the show along with Broadway writer/actor Harvey Fierstein, who contributed new material to the original Broadway script. Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Stephanie Mills, Ne-Yo, David Alan Grier, Common, Elijah Kelley, Amber Riley, and Uzo Aduba and newcomer Shanice Williams are set to star. It was speculated that a live version of the show would play on Broadway during the 2016-2017 season, however this plan fell through.[80]

Grand chapiteau tours[edit]

Cirque du Soleil's grand chapiteau at night
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 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.[81]

The company's tours have significant financial impacts on the cities they visit by renting lots for shows, parking spaces, selling and buying promotions, and contributing to the local economy with 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 (equivalent to $19,502,761 in 2018) to the city government and local businesses.[82]

Koozå's grand chapiteau in Santiago, Chile



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
1985 Cirque du Soleil A film adaptation of the production Cirque du Soleil. Filmed live in Montréal in 1985. Only broadcast on television.[83]
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 unreleased.
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 unreleased.
1994 Saltimbanco Film adaptation of Saltimbanco. 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. 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. Filmed live in San Francisco in 2000.
2002 Alegría A film adaptation of the production Alegría. Filmed live in Sydney in 2001.
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 Varekai Film adaptation of the touring show Varekai. Filmed live in Toronto in 2002.
2003 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.
2004 Midnight Sun Filmed live at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal on 11 July 2004, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal and Cirque du Soleil's 20th anniversary.
2004 La Nouba A film adaptation of the show La Nouba. Filmed live in Orlando 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. 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" An 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 Kooza 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.[84] The performance in its entirety was broadcast on the latter.
2008 Koozå Film adaptation of the touring show Koozå. 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 20 August and 15 October 2008.
2008 All Together Now A documentary about the making of The Beatles 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 Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour Documentary A documentary on the creation of the arena show Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour. Filmed in Montréal in 2011.
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.[85] Distributed worldwide by Paramount Pictures on 21 December 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, , The Beatles Love, Zumanity, Viva Elvis, and Criss Angel Believe.[86]
2013 Hatching A documentary on the creation of the touring show Ovo. Filmed in Montréal in 2009.
2013 Amaluna Film adaptation of the touring show Amaluna. 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 Canadian French-language TV channel Ici Radio-Canada Télé. Filmed live in Montréal on 23 December 2014.[87][88]
2016 Toruk - The First Flight Film adaption of the touring show Toruk - The First Flight inspired by James Cameron's film Avatar. Filmed live at the world premiere in Montréal in December 2015 and first released through the merchandising stands of various shows in July 2016.
2016 Luzia Film adaptation of the touring show Luzia. Filmed live in Montréal in May 2016 and later released at the San Francisco premiere in November 2016.
2016 Luna Petunia Canadian-American animated television series produced by Cirque du Soleil Media with Saban Capital Group and BrainPower Studio.[89] The series premiered on Netflix on 9 December 2016.[90] Four new seasons were launched during 2017 and 2018.[91][92][93]

On 1 May 2018, Saban Brands sold Luna Petunia to Hasbro.[79]

2017 Kurios Film adaptation of the touring show Kurios which was filmed in Miami in December 2016. It was released at the show's boutique shop in May 2017.
2017 O Filmed in October 2017 for French-language TV channel Arte and first broadcast on 27 December 2017.[94]
2018 Volta Film adaptation of the touring show Volta, filmed in Montréal in 2017 and released on Bell Fibe TV in 2018.[95]

Controversies and legal issues[edit]

Firing of HIV-positive artist[edit]

In November 2003, gymnast Matthew Cusick (represented by the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund) filed a discrimination complaint against Cirque du Soleil in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.[96][97] Cusick (a trainee performer who was scheduled to begin working at Mystère) alleged that in April 2002, Cirque du Soleil fired him because he tested HIV-positive, 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.[98] 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".[99] Cirque du Soleil settled with Cusick in April 2004. Under the settlement, the company began a company-wide anti-discrimination training program; changed its employment practices pertaining to HIV-positive applicants; paid Cusick $60,000 in lost wages, $200,000 in front pay, and $300,000 in compensatory damages; and paid $40,000 in attorney fees to Lambda Legal.[96][99][97]

An additional complaint was filed on Cusick's behalf by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. Their complaint stemmed from the City of San Francisco's ban on city contracting with employers that discriminate based on HIV status; the circus leases property owned by the city-owned Port of San Francisco.[100]

Trademark and copyright disputes[edit]

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.[101][102]

In August 1999, Fremonster Theatrical filed an application for the trademark Cirque de Flambé. 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 Flambé trademark application was approved in 2005.[103][104]

In April 2016, Cirque du Soleil filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Justin Timberlake, Timbaland, and Sony Music Entertainment in federal court in New York, alleging that Timberlake's song "Don't Hold the Wall" (co-written with Timbaland) from his third studio album The 20/20 Experience (2013) infringed the copyright of Cirque du Soleil's song "Steel Dream" from its 1997 album Quidam.[105]

H.B. 2 law in North Carolina[edit]

In 2016, Cirque du Soleil announced the cancellation of all its 2016 touring shows to North Carolina, citing the recent signing of the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act (commonly known as "HB2") by North Carolina governor Pat McCrory. This cancelations affected Ovo in both Greensboro and Charlotte, and Toruk in Raleigh. The company announced in a press release that "Cirque du Soleil strongly believes in diversity and equality for every individual and is opposed to discrimination in any form. The new HB2 legislation passed in North Carolina is an important regression to ensuring human rights for all."[106] Cirque du Soleil was criticized for this decision and accused of taking a double standard, for cancelling the shows in North Carolina while many times they have performed their shows in countries like the United Arab Emirates which violates a number of fundamental human rights.[107]


In 2009, 24-year-old performer Oleksandr "Sacha" Zhurov, of Ukraine, died at a hospital in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, from head injuries he had sustained during a training session.[108] He had been with the company only a few months at the time of the accident.[109] An initial report of the incident said Zhurov had fallen off a trampoline[110] but, in 2010, it was reported he had fallen while doing training exercises on a Russian swing. An investigation by Quebec's occupational-safety board decided that while Zhurov made the error that ultimately resulted in his death, the company should be fined $1,915 for failing to adequately determine the risks associated with equipment.[108]

In 2013, 31-year-old performer Sarah "Sasoun" Guyard-Guillot, of France, died in an ambulance en route to hospital as the result of blunt force trauma she had sustained from a fall during a performance of in Las Vegas, Nevada.[111][112][113] She'd been with the company since 2006.[114] It was originally thought that Guyard-Guillot's safety harness had failed her and that was what resulted in her fall but, in actuality, a cable responsible for keeping her in the air had been cut after accidentally being knocked loose by movement during the performance.[115][116] Reports as to how far Guyard-Guillot fell differ from source to source, with some saying she fell as little as 50 feet and others as much as 94 feet.[111][115] The show was cancelled but returned to the stage in December 2014, after an 18-month hiatus.[115] The company was fined as a result.[117]

In 2016, 42-year-old set technician Olivier Rochette, of Canada, died in San Francisco, California, from head injuries he had sustained after accidentally being hit in the head by an aerial lift while preparing for a production of Luzia.[118][119] Rochette was the son of Cirque du Soleil co-founder Gilles Ste-Croix.[118]

In 2018, 38-year-old aerial straps performer Yann Arnaud, of France, died at a hospital in Tampa, Florida, after falling during a performance of Volta.[120][121] He had been with the company for 15 years.[122][123]


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