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Cirque du Soleil

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Cirque du Soleil
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 Increase 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 (pronounced: [siʁk dy sɔ.lɛj], "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 ([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.[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] The sale received regulatory approval from the Government of Canada on 30 June 2015.[19]


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 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.[20][21]

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.[20]

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.[22] 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][23]


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 55-minute first act followed by a 50-minute second act, still followed by 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 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.[24]

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.[6][25]

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[edit]

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][26]

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.[27]

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[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 stage for Knie Presents Cirque du Soleil in 1992

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[6][28]

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 - 2009)
Arena (2009 – 2013)
Quidam 23 April 1996 Tour Grand Chapiteau (1996 - 2010, 2015)
Arena (since 2010)
O 15 October 1998 Bellagio, Las Vegas Resident (since 1998) Active
La Nouba 23 December 1998 Disney Springs, Lake Buena Vista, Florida Resident (since 1998) Active
Dralion 22 April 1999 Tour Grand Chapiteau (1999 - 2010)
Arena (2010 – 2015)
Varekai 22 April 2002 Tour Grand Chapiteau (2002 - 2013)
Arena (since 2013)
Zumanity 31 July 2003 New York-New York, Las Vegas Resident (since 2003) Active
3 February 2005 MGM Grand, Las Vegas Resident (since 2005) Active
Corteo 21 April 2005 Tour Grand Chapiteau (2005 - 2015) Active
Delirium 26 January 2006 Tour Arena (2006 - 2008) Retired
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 - 2018) Active
Ovo 23 April 2009 Tour Grand Chapiteau (2009 - 2015)
Arena (since 2015)
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) Active
Zarkana 29 June 2011 Aria Resort and Casino, Las Vegas Theatre/Arena (2011 - 2012)
Resident (since 2012)
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 (since 2015) Active

Future productions[edit]

  • Joel: An upcoming touring show titled Joel, produced by 45 Degrees (Cirque du Soleil's former special events division), was announced in October 2015. Joel will open at the Barvikha Luxury Village in Moscow, Russia on 2 January 2016 and will continue until 10 January 2016, after which it is scheduled to play in arenas around Russia. According to the official website, Joel "is inspired by the traditions of the Russian New Year and follows the Snow Maiden in a snow-shrouded, enchanting world where a myriad of cooler stars will point her way to finding love. Imagine a bustling metropolis a few hours before the New Year; the incessant hustle and bustle; glittering lights in windows; singing all over the city; and the huge traffic jams and pedestrians hurrying in all directions. Many of them no longer believe in miracles, and for many years have seen the visiting Santa Claus as someone in the next room absently fiddling with a false beard, but not her... Fascinatingly beautiful, brave and stylish, this evening she hurries home and is resolutely rushing on the snowy street, when she stumbles on one of the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Snow. He stretches out his hand to this young beauty on this New Year's Eve and opens the door to the incredible world of Joel." (NB: translated from Russian.) The show will be directed by Fernand Reynvil.[31]
  • La Forge aux étoiles: Cirque du Soleil has announced a partnership with Futuroscope (a French theme park) to produce an aquatic evening show to replace the current Lady O show. The show will premiere on 6 February 2016, with 250-300 performances a year. This 45 degrees production will be performed 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. According to the press release, "In a constellation of poetic images, [the show] will invite young and old to become the privileged witnesses of the friendship between a young girl and a cosmic giant with his feet on the ground and his head in the stars."[32][33]
  • Luzia: Cirque du Soleil has announced a new touring big-top show that is inspired by Mexican culture, music, clothing etc., written and directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca (who also directed Corteo), and is set to premiere in Montreal from 21 April to 10 July 2016 before moving on to Toronto on 28 July.[34][35][36]
  • Paramour: On 19 August 2015, Cirque du Soleil announced the creation of a resident show at the Lyric Theatre on Broadway, New York. Paramour is themed to the "Golden age of Hollywood" and will follow the life of "a poet whom is forced to chose between love and art". It will have similar elements to Cirque du Soleil's retired Los Angeles resident show in Iris (which was also themed on cinema) written and created by Philippe Decouflé and will feature similar acts such as aerial straps performed by the Atherton twins (who also performed in Iris), who will be a part of a 38-person onstage cast for the show. The creative team is as follows: Jean-François Bouchard (creative guide), Pascale Henrot and West Hyler (assistant directors), Jean Rabasse (set designer), Philippe Guillotel (costume designer), Bob & Bill (composers), Daphné Mauger (choreographer), Patrice Besombes (lighting designer), Anne‐Séguin Poirier (props designer), Olivier Simola and Christophe Waksmann (projection designer), John Shivers (sound designer), Shana Carroll and Boris Verkhovsky (acrobatic performance designers), Pierre Masse (rigging and acrobatic equipment designer) and Nathalie Gagné (makeup designer). The creative team is the same as for Iris apart from the assistant directors, composer and sound designer. Paramour is scheduled to begin preview shows on 16 April 2016, with an official premiere on 2 June 2016.
  • Luna Petunia: It was announced on 11 October 2014 that in partnership with Saban Brands, Cirque du Soleil Media would produce an animated children's (pre-school aged) series 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 will be shown on Netflix around September-November 2016.[37]
  • Cirque du Soleil - Soda Stereo: In partnership with Argentine promoters PopArt and Triple, Cirque du Soleil is producing a new touring show based on the rock band Soda Stereo, which will premiere in 2017 in Buenos Aires before touring Latin America (a tour in Chile and Mexico has been confirmed), Miami, Los Angeles and other US cities. The show will also coincide with the release of a soundtrack album, created by surviving Soda Stereo members Zeta Bosio and Charly Alberti, and some producers who have worked with the band.
  • Hanzhou 2018: On 15 June 2015 at the Shanghai International Film Festival, Cirque du Soleil announced their plans to develop a permanent show in the Xintiandi commercial complex in Hangzhou, China. The theater will seat 1400 spectators and Cirque du Soleil's chief executive Daniel Lamarre has said that the show will have a “local flavor” but still be a “Cirque show”. It is scheduled to open in early 2018 with the development of the theatre on the site of an old warehouse of an old rail yard area currently underway. [38]

Other works[edit]


  • Cirque du Monde: a social action project designed to reach marginalized youth.[42]
  • 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.[43][44]
  • 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.[45]
  • 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.[46]

Special events[edit]

In April 2015, Cirque du Soleil's Special Events division, which had been responsible for coordinating various public and private events, formed a separate company called 45 Degrees. Led by Yasmine Khalil, the new company has continued to produce special events for Cirque du Soleil while expanding to offer creative content outside Cirque du Soleil as well.[47]

Date Name or event Location Notes
24 March 2002 74th Academy Awards Los Angeles,
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.[48]
11 July 2004 Soleil de Minuit
(Midnight Sun)
Montreal, Canada A one-night event in Montreal celebrating the 20th anniversary of Cirque du Soleil and the 25th anniversary of the Montreal International Jazz Festival.[49]
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.[50][51]
15 July 2005 Reflections in Blue Montreal, Canada A unique one-night water show in Montreal as part of the opening ceremonies for the 2005 World Aquatics Championships.[52]
26 July 2006 2006 World Outgames Rome, Italy Cirque du Soleil created this 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, choreographic numbers and a grand finale: the unveiling of the car, which featured horses, a 40-car carousel, fire performers and fireworks.
January 2007 Circle Fiat Bravo Launch Montreal, Canada Cirque du Soleil paid tribute to athletes and diversity with a performance directed by Michel Laprise, highlighting feats of strength and dexterity.
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.[53]
28 August 2007 The Venetian Macao Grand Opening Macau The show told a story of a young traveler who arrives in Macau. Reflecting on his life, he sets out to test his abilities and discover what fate has in store for him.
7 December 2007 Prêmio Craque do Brasileirão Brazil Cirque du Soleil took part in the celebration. Their artists performed acts from various shows.
2008 The Awakening of the Serpent Zaragoza, 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, Canada Cirque du Soleil celebrated Quebec City’s 400th anniversary by creating a performance staged at the Colisée Pepsi (Pepsi Coliseum), directed by Michel Laprise.
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.[54]
16 May 2009 Eurovision Song Contest 2009 Moscow, Russia Cirque du Soleil was the opening act of the song contest, along with Dima Bilan, who sang "Believe." They performed a spectacle called Prodigal Son.
2009 Les Chemins invisibles Quebec City, Canada The first year of Les Chemins invisibles was titled "The Enriched Encounter".
2010 Expo 2010 Shanghai, 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.[55]
14 June 2010 2010 FIBA World Championship Istanbul, Turkey Cirque du Soleil created and performed a 10-minute presentation for the Opening Ceremony of the FIBA 2010 World Championship with acts from La Nouba, Quidam, Dralion, Kooza and Varekai. It was directed by Michel Laprise.
28 August 2010 Les Chemins invisibles Quebec City, Canada The second year of Les Chemins invisibles was titled "Furrow of Dreams".
2011 Les Chemins invisibles Quebec City, Canada The third year of Les Chemins invisibles was titled "The Tin Kingdom".
5 February 2012 Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show Indianapolis,
United States
During the halftime show, some artists performed with Madonna, using the slackline.
26 February 2012 84th Academy Awards Los Angeles,
United States
Over 50 artists performed a routine, scored by Danny Elfman, during the 84th Academy Awards in the Dolby Theatre.[56][57]
2012 Les Chemins invisibles Quebec City, Canada The fourth year of Les Chemins invisibles was titled "The Pixel Frontier".
22 September 2012 2012 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup Baku, Azerbaijan Opening ceremony at Tofiq Bahramov Stadium in Baku.[58]
2013 Les Chemins invisibles Quebec City, Canada The fifth and final year of Les Chemins invisibles was titled "The Harbor of Lost Souls".
13 June - 3 August 2013 Scalada 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 A summer seasonal open-air event; the second year was entitled Mater Nature, directed and choreographed by Stéphane Boko.[59]
13 December - 28 December 2014 30th Anniversary Concert Montreal, Canada 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.[60]
1 May - 31 October 2015 Allavita! Expo Milano 2015 Milan, Italy This tailor-made show was inspired by the union between Food and Life (the theme for the expo).
4 July - 1 August 2015 Scalada Storia Andorra, Andorra The third part in this series explored Andorra's more mysterious side and took an acrobatic and metaphorical journey through the country's legends.
10 July 2015 Pan American Games 2015 Toronto, Canada Cirque du Soleil created an original production for the Opening Ceremony of the 2015 Pan American Games.
15 July - 15 August 2015 Le Monde Est Fou Quebec City, Canada This show by 45 Degrees (formerly the special events division of Cirque du Soleil), directed by Daniel Fortin, was "inspired by the body of work and rich musical universe produced by Beau Dommage". The 75-minute show is the first of a "Cirque du Soleil Série Hommage" series and ran for a month at Amphithéâtre Cogeco in Trois-Rivières (Québec).

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.[61] 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.[62] 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.[63]

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).[64] 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.[65] 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.[66]

In May 2013 The Light Group opened the Light nightclub in collaboration with Cirque du Soleil[67] 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.[68] Among other features the club has a large wall of LED screens, and the room is illuminated with fog, lasers and strobes.[67] DJs at the events include charting artists such as Kaskade and Tiesto, with prices ranging from $30 to $10,000 for certain table placements.[67]


In October 2011, Cirque du Soleil was reported to be interested in purchasing Maison Alcan, as part of a diversification strategy.[69]

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 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.[70]

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 ($18,419,994 in 2015) to the city government and local businesses.[71]


  • 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.

Grand chapiteau[edit]

  • 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.

Other tents[edit]

  • 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 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 11 July 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.[72] 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 20 August and 15 October 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.[73] 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, , Love, Zumanity, Viva Elvis and Criss Angel Believe.[74]
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.[75][76]

Legal issues[edit]

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.[77] 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.[78] 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".[79]

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.[80]

Although Cirque du Soleil's position remains that this was a safety issue, not a discrimination issue, they settled with Cusick on 22 April 2004. The terms of the settlement include that the company would initiate a companywide anti-discrimination training program and alter its employment practices pertaining to HIV-positive applicants. In addition, Matthew Cusick received $60,000 in lost wages, $200,000 in front pay, $300,000 in compensatory damages and Lambda Legal received $40,000 in attorney fees.[77][79]

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.[81][82]

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.[83][84]


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.[85]

The first death during a performance occurred on 29 June 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.[86][87]


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External links[edit]