Cirque du Soleil
|Founded||16 June 1984|
|Daniel Lamarre, President and CEO|
|Revenue||C$850 million (FY 2018)|
Number of employees
|Divisions||Cirque du Soleil Images|
Cirque du Soleil Events + Experience
|Subsidiaries||Blue Man Group|
VStar Entertainment Group
The Works Entertainment
Cirque du Soleil (French: [siʁk dy sɔlɛj], Quebec [sɪʁk dzy sɔlɛj]; "Circus of the Sun" or "Sun Circus") is a Montreal-based entertainment company and the largest contemporary circus producer in the world. Located in the inner-city area of Saint-Michel, it was founded in Baie-Saint-Paul on 16 June 1984 by former street performers Guy Laliberté and Gilles Ste-Croix.
Originating as a performing troupe called Les Échassiers (IPA: [lez‿eʃasje]; "The Waders"), they toured Quebec in various forms between 1979 and 1983. Their initial financial hardship was relieved in 1983 by a government grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to perform as part of the 450th anniversary celebrations of Jacques Cartier's voyage to Canada. Their first official production 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.
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, growing from one show to 19 shows in over 300 cities on six continents. The company employed 4,900 people from 50 countries and generated an annual revenue of approximately US$1 billion in 2017. 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 over 100 million people who have seen Cirque du Soleil productions worldwide.
In 2000, Laliberté bought out Daniel Gauthier, and with 95% ownership continued to expand the brand. In 2008, Laliberté split 20% of his share equally between the 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 and Michael Curry. However, following Dubai's financial problems in 2010 caused by the 2008 recession, Laliberté stated that the project had been "put on ice"; 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. In 2015, TPG Capital, Fosun Industrial Holdings, and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec purchased 90% of Cirque du Soleil while Laliberté retained a 10% stake in the company. The sale received regulatory approval from the Government of Canada on 30 June 2015. In February 2020, Laliberté sold his 10% ownership of the company to Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec for $75 million.
The company's creations have received numerous prizes and distinctions, including three Drama Desk Awards; seven Primetime Emmy Awards; multiple Gemini Awards; a Daytime Emmy Award; a Juno Award; and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2000, Cirque du Soleil was awarded the National Arts Centre Award, a companion award of the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards, and in 2002 was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.
In 1979, after having quit college and learned the art of fire breathing, Guy Laliberté organized a summer fair in Baie-Saint-Paul with the help of Daniel Gauthier and Gilles Ste-Croix. As part of a publicity stunt to convince the Quebec government to help fund this production, Ste-Croix walked the 56 miles (90 km) from Baie-Saint-Paul to Quebec City on stilts. This gave them funding for the stilt-walking troupe Les Échassiers de Baie-Saint-Paul, which then toured Quebec the following year in 1980.
Although well received by audiences and critics alike, Les Échassiers was a financial failure. Laliberté spent the following winter in Hawaii while Ste-Croix stayed in Quebec to set up a nonprofit holding company named "The High-Heeled Club" (Club des Talons Hauts) to mitigate the losses of the previous summer. This allowed Les Échassiers de Baie-Saint-Paul to break even by fall 1981. The following summer, Laliberté and Ste-Croix founded La Fête Foraine, a street performance festival that featured circus performances and workshops to teach the circus arts to the public. Laliberté managed and produced the fair for 2 more years, becoming a moderate financial success.
In 1983, the government of Quebec gave him a $1.6 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. This became Cirque du Soleil's first production Le Grand Tour du Cirque du Soleil.
1984–1989: Early productions
The company's first production Le Grand Tour performed in Quebec for 13 weeks in summer 1984. Although several issues persisted during the first tour (including a collapsed tent and conflict between artists), it was a financial success. After securing funding from the Canadian government for a second year from the help of Quebec premier René Lévesque, Laliberté hired Guy Caron, head of the National Circus School, as Cirque du Soleil's artistic director. Laliberté and Caron reworked the company's performance style to emulate that of Moscow Circus by having the acts tell a story. Further influences from the Circus of China, Cirque Arlette Gruss, and Circus Roncalli led Cirque du Soleil to approach their shows in a more theatrical fashion with live music and no technical crew on stage. To assist in this shift towards a theatrical production, Laliberté and Caron hired Belgian director Franco Dragone to direct segments of their 1985 production, Cirque du Soleil.
The company's first non-Quebec performances in Ontario in 1985 were unsuccessful, leading to a $750,000 deficit. To allow a 1986 tour to mount, the Desjardins Group covered $200,000 of bad checks, financier Daniel Lamarre represented the company for free, and the Quebec government allotted it an additional year of funding. La Magie Continue, their 1986 production, proved more artistically successful with the direction of Franco Dragone. This extended to the creation of their 1987 show Le Cirque Réinventé.
In the summer of 1987, Cirque du Soleil was invited to present Le Cirque Réinventé at the Los Angeles Arts Festival. Despite only having enough money to make a one-way trip, the company agreed to open for the festival in September of that year. Le Cirque Réinventé's first American performances were an instant critical and financial hit, allowing them make a profit of over $1.5 million by the end of 1987. The show continued to tour Canada and the United States throughout 1988 and 1989, during which time plans for a second touring show named Éclipse started being developed. Due to artistic differences with these plans, Guy Caron, along with a number of artists, left the company causing the plans to be shelved. Gilles Ste-Croix, who had been away from the company since 1985, subsequently replaced Caron as artistic director.
By the end of 1989, the company once again faced deficit due to internal conflicts amongst the company's leaders as well as from lukewarm reception to their revamped tour of Le Cirque Réinventé in the United States. In response to this, Cirque du Soleil took their plans for their previously shelved show Éclipse and developed it into Nouvelle Expérience. Franco Dragone returned as director in addition to a creative team made up of Dominique Lemieux, Michel Crête, René Dupéré, Luc Lafortune, and Debra Brown. Nouvelle Expérience premiered on 8 May 1990 in Montreal to critical acclaim, touring North America through the end of 1991 and later residing in Las Vegas in 1992 and 1993. Their following touring shows — Saltimbanco, Alegría, Quidam, and Dralion — proved to be equally successful.
The success of Nouvelle Expérience's contract in Las Vegas led to a deal between Cirque du Soleil and the Mirage Casino-Hotel to create a permanent show, Mystère, residing in Treasure Island Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. It premiered in December 1993. Its success as the company's first permanent production would later allow for the creation of two more permanent shows in 1998: O in Las Vegas and La Nouba at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. During this time of expansion the company also founded their International Headquarters in Montreal's Saint-Michel neighbourhood and their multimedia division, Cirque du Soleil Images. In 1999 they premiered their film Alegría, also directed by Dragone.
Following the premiere of La Nouba in 1998, the creative team that had developed all of the company's shows from Nouvelle Expérience to La Nouba left. Starting with the creation of Dralion in 1999, Cirque du Soleil began producing shows with entirely new creative teams.
First international ventures
Le Cirque Réinventé marked the company's first performances outside of North America when it performed in London and Paris in 1990. The show received a mixed reception and was not followed by another production until Saltimbanco's 1995 European tour, which better solidified Cirque du Soleil's presence in the European market.
Cirque du Soleil also toured Japan in the summer of 1992 at the behest of the Fuji Television Network. Combining acts from their previous shows Nouvelle Expérience and Le Cirque Réinventé, they created their first arena show Fascination which toured Japan from May to August of that year. Fascination's positive reception allowed Cirque du Soleil to play Saltimbanco there in 1994, thereby establishing the company's market in the Asia and Pacific region for their subsequent tours in the late 1990s and 2000s.
2000–2009: Rapid growth
In 2000, the company produced their IMAX film Journey of Man. Shortly afterwards, at the beginning of 2001, Daniel Gauthier left the company and was bought out by Guy Laliberté, bringing his ownership stake in the company to 95%. Gilles Ste-Croix also soon left to found the horse-based touring show Cheval, leading Laliberté to hire Lyn Heward and Daniel Lamarre as Presidents and C.O.O.'s of the company's Creative Content and New Ventures divisions, respectively.
In 2004, Cirque du Soleil premiered the resident show Kà at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, directed by Robert Lepage. In September of that year, the company launched their record label, Cirque du Soleil Musique, after their agreement with BMG Canada expired.
In 2005, Lamarre took over as President of Cirque du Soleil from Laliberté while Heward took on the role of executive producer for special projects. In that same year the company premiered the touring show Corteo. The same year, the Cirque du Soleil switched ticketing companies to go with Outbox's technology, a while label system, of which it also became a shareholder.
Cirque du Soleil premiered two shows in 2006: Delirium, their first significant touring arena show, in January of that year and The Beatles Love, their first collaboration with The Beatles, in June. Similarly, in 2007 they opened two more productions with the resident show Wintuk in New York City and the touring tent show Koozå. In July 2007 the company made their first effort to convert tent shows to arena settings by launching Saltimbanco's arena tour in London, Ontario (this custom would be followed by other tent shows in later years).
The company opened three resident shows within the span of 3 months in 2008 — Zaia in Macau, China, Criss Angel Believe in Las Vegas, and Zed in Tokyo, Japan — which furthered their practice of producing multiple shows at the same time. That year Cirque du Soleil also announced that they sold a 20% stake in the company to Dubai investors Istithmar World and Nakheel in order to finance their goals, which included creating a permanent show in Dubai.
In 2009, they launched 3 more shows: the touring tent show Ovo, the touring theatre show Banana Shpeel, and the resident show Viva Elvis in Las Vegas. At this time Cirque du Soleil began being criticized for the quality of their productions. Banana Shpeel became labelled as one of the company's first "failures" when it was panned by both critics and audiences; Criss Angel Believe and Viva Elvis also received negative reviews.
2010–2015: Cutbacks and restructuring
The touring show Totem premiered in 2010 and was soon followed by three more shows in 2011: the resident show Iris in Los Angeles and the touring shows Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour and Zarkana. Although the company was still growing at this time, it continued to face several issues with its newer productions. Zarkana and Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour received poor reviews and the company had a string of closures. Banana Shpeel closed in Toronto in October 2010 after cancelling its previously-announced engagement in San Francisco. In July 2011, Cirque du Soleil announced the closure of Zed due to poor ticket sales as a direct result of the March 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. In November 2011 MGM Grand asked the company to close and replace Viva Elvis by the end of 2012 due to poor ticket sales. In February 2012, the company announced the closure of Zaia due to disappointing ticket sales and in November 2012, despite critical praise, announced the closure of Iris, also due to low ticket sales. In December 2012, the company announced a new division — Cirque du Soleil Média — in conjunction with Bell Media, followed by the release of their second film Worlds Away. At this time Cirque du Soleil also announced 50 layoffs. The layoffs consisted mostly of 30 employee positions at their International Headquarters in Montreal, including three vice-presidents.
With the high output of shows between 2007 and 2011 in combination with its multiple closures, the company began slowing down its operations. In 2012 and 2013 it only opened two shows: the touring tent show Amaluna and the resident show Michael Jackson: One in Las Vegas. On 16 January 2013, Cirque du Soleil announced that it would be laying off 400 of its 5000 employees worldwide, most of which at their International Headquarters. The company noted that it had not been profitable in 2012 despite having garnered over $1 billion in revenue that year. Later that year, on 30 June 2013, the company faced headlines when acrobat Sarah "Sasoun" Guyard-Guillot died after falling during a performance of Kà in Las Vegas, its first on-stage death in its history.
In January 2014, Cirque du Soleil announced the creation of Cirque du Soleil Theatrical, a division aimed developing more traditional theatre productions in order to diversify their production output. The company subsequently announced numerous subsidiaries in addition to its Theatrical division, including the Sandbox Hospitality Group, 45 Degrees, 4U2C, and Outbox Enterprises. In April 2014, Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities, a touring tent show, premiered in Montreal to critical acclaim and was followed in November 2014 by Joyà, both the company's first resident show in Mexico and their first dinner theatre production.
On 20 April 2015, Guy Laliberté announced that he had sold a 90% joint stake in the company to the investment groups TPG Capital, Fosun Capital Group, and La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec for approximately $1.5 billion, while retaining a 10% stake in the company himself. Under the new ownership, the company began majorly restructuring its executive leadership in order to focus on increasing their profitability. Their finance director, chief operating officer, and numerous vice-presidents were all replaced within six months of the company's sale. Most notably, the position of chief operating officer held by Charles Décarie was given to finance lawyer Jonathan Tétrault.
2015–2020: Rebranding and diversification
It was followed shortly after by the touring tent show Luzia and the company's first Broadway musical Paramour, both opening in April 2016. By the end of 2016 the company had also launched the preschool television series Luna Petunia on Netflix.
In 2017, it launched three more productions. Séptimo Día — No Descansaré, an arena show based on the music of Soda Stereo, premiered in March for a short year-long tour targeted largely at South and Central American audiences. In April 2017, it premiered the touring tent show Volta and in October, Crystal, the company's first ice show.
Under the ownership of TPG Capital, Fosun Capital Group, and La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Cirque du Soleil took steps to diversify and rebrand the company. On 6 July 2017, Cirque du Soleil announced that it had acquired the Blue Man Group as a new subsidiary of the company. It was reportedly bought for US$65.5 million. On 21 November 2017, the company released a video on all of its social media platforms titled "New Icons for a New Era" where it revealed new logos and announced the Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group as the name of the organization's new umbrella company.
On 25 April 2018, the company announced that 45 Degrees, their special events subsidiary, had taken over the main company's creation and production department. On 5 July 2018, they announced their acquisition of the children's entertainment company VStar Entertainment Group and its subsidiary Cirque Dreams. Cirque du Soleil launched the children's show Big Top Academy through TVO in October 2018. In November 2018, it premiered the touring tent show Bazzar in India, the company's first production to tour in that region. In 2019, the company opened six shows: the touring tent show Alegría: In a New Light; the touring arena shows Axel and Messi10; and three resident shows — X: The Land of Fantasy in Hangzhou, China, R.U.N in Las Vegas, and 'Twas the Night Before in New York City. During this time Cirque du Soleil also acquired The Works Entertainment company for $40 million to further diversify its subsidiaries.
In February 2020, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec announced that it had acquired Guy Laliberté's 10% stake in Cirque du Soleil, bringing its total ownership in the company from 10% to 20%.
Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
On 19 March 2020, responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cirque du Soleil announced that all 44 active shows worldwide would be suspended, and that 4,679 employees, comprising 95 percent of their staff, would be temporarily laid off, effective immediately. These actions brought the company into a state of financial collapse with a debt of over $1 billion. Although it received financial support with a $50 million injection from its shareholders and a $200 million loan from the Quebec government, on 29 June 2020, the company announced that it had filed for bankruptcy protection and was terminating 3,500 employees who had previously been laid off. CEO Daniel Lamarre stated the intention of the company was to rehire "a substantial majority" of terminated employees once coronavirus-related shutdowns were lifted and operations could resume, business conditions allowing. In connection with the filing, Cirque du Soleil entered a stalking horse bid from its shareholders with the intention of drawing outside bidders to buy the company. In July 2020, the company's shareholders offered a proposal that would allow its creditors to obtain a 45% stake in the company while the current shareholders would maintain a 55% shared stake. On 17 July 2020, a takeover proposal by the company's creditors valued at US$1.2 billion was approved as a benchmark bid in the company by the Quebec Superior Court. On 17 August 2020, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec reported that it had to write off the US$75 million investment which it had made only four months prior, in February.
In January 2021, the company's previously-announced 2021 production Nysa was cancelled as a direct result of the pandemic.
Each Cirque du Soleil production 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.
The duration of each touring show is typically between 2 and 2 hours and 30 minutes, including an intermission. Permanent shows are usually between 70 and 90 minutes in length without an intermission. 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||16 June 1984||Tour||Grand Chapiteau (1984)
|Cirque du Soleil||14 May 1985||Tour||Grand Chapiteau (1985)||Retired|
|La Magie Continue||1 May 1986||Tour||Grand Chapiteau (1986)||Retired|
|Le Cirque Réinventé||7 May 1987||Tour||Grand Chapiteau (1987–1990)
|Nouvelle Expérience||8 May 1990||Tour||Grand Chapiteau (1990–1993)||Retired|
|Saltimbanco||23 April 1992||Tour||Grand Chapiteau (1992–2006)
Arena (1994, 2007–2012)[c]
|Fascination||22 May 1992||Tour||Arena (1992)||Retired|
|Mystère||25 December 1993||Treasure Island, Las Vegas||Resident (since 1993)||Active|
|Alegría||21 April 1994||Tour||Grand Chapiteau (1994–1999, 2001–2009)
|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)
|Varekai||24 April 2002||Tour||Grand Chapiteau (2002–2013, 2017)
|Zumanity||14 August 2003||New York-New York, Las Vegas||Resident (2003–2020)||Retired|
|Kà||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)
|Zarkana||9 June 2011||Aria Resort and Casino, Las Vegas||Theatre (2011–2012)
|Iris||21 July 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 (2012–2020)||Retired|
|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[d]||Theatre (2016–2020)||Retired|
|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)||3 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 (2019–2020)||Retired|
|'Twas The Night Before...||29 November 2019||Madison Square Garden, New York City||Seasonal Theatre (since 2019)||Active|
|Drawn to Life||18 November 2021||Disney Springs, Lake Buena Vista, Florida||Resident||Upcoming|
This article needs to be updated.(August 2021)
- 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. Originally set for a March 2020 premiere, it has been postponed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. It was later revealed that the show will premiere on 18 November 2021.
- Under the Same Sky: In October 2019, Cirque du Soleil announced the creation of the tent production Under the Same Sky, set to premiere in Montreal. It will be directed, written and set designed by Es Devlin.
- 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 will be performed in a specially-designed 600-seat theatre in Nuevo Vallarta.
- Dubai resident show: 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.
Areas of activity
With the intent of diversifying its activities worldwide, the Cirque du Soleil has created subsidiaries, such as multimedia environments and ticket selling tools.
Outbox was built around the idea that event producers need a white label system to support them in selling tickets directly to customers. It allows all live entertainment venues to control their inventory, pricing, and consumer data without any third party involvement.
4U2C creates multimedia visual environments that combine video, sound, lighting and special effects for a variety of projection surfaces.
This company produces custom-made experiential content for clients who are seeking high-end creative services for their events.
- Cirque du Monde: A social action project founded in 1994 designed to reach marginalized youth nationally and internationally by teaching circus arts and skills.
- Jukari Fit to Fly: Cirque du Soleil collaborated with Reebok in 2009 to create a gym workout set based on trapeze work.
- Safewalls: An artistic outreach project in which urban street artists were hired to create visual artworks for the company in 2011.
- 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 were made available at Desigual stores and Cirque du Soleil show boutiques. The partnership was discontinued in 2015.
- Movi.Kanti.Revo: In association with Google, Cirque du Soleil released a Google Chrome extension in 2012.
- Felix & Paul Studios VR: Between 2014 and 2017, the Cirque du Soleil Média collaborated with Felix & Paul Studios to create a number of virtual reality videos based on Zarkana, Kurios, Kà, O, and Luzia. Inside the Box of Kurios later won a Daytime Emmy Award in 2016.
- 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. The opening was initially delayed from 2018 to a mid-2019 opening. Further delays have subsequently pushed the projected opening date to 2023.
Cirque du Soleil Events + Experiences
From the 1990s until 2015, Cirque du Soleil produced a variety of public and private events and performances under its Special Events division. In April 2015, the company announced that its Special Events division 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. 45 Degrees later merged with the C-Lab (creative laboratory) division of the main company, continuing to produce special event performances while also designing shows with new concepts (such as the dinner-show concept in Joyà and the ice concept in Crystal). In April 2019, Cirque du Soleil announced that the 45 Degrees subsidiary had become a division named "Cirque du Soleil Events + Experiences" under which the company now develops its special events and projects.
Notable special events
|Date||Name or event(s)||Location||Notes|
|20 March–29 November 1992||Knie Presents Cirque du Soleil||Switzerland||A collaboration with Circus Knie directed by Guy Caron that toured for nine months through 60 cities in Switzerland. The production merged Circus Knie's animal acts with Cirque du Soleil's acrobatic acts while following the plot of Le Cirque Reinventé.|
|June 1995||21st G7 Summit||Halifax||The company performed at the request of then Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien for the dignitaries of the June 1995 G7 Summit in Halifax, Nova Scotia.|
|12 June 1997 – 28 May 2000||Pomp Duck and Circumstance||Germany||Directed by Gilles Ste-Croix, Cirque du Soleil revamped the German dinner-theatre show Pomp Duck and Circumstance and toured it in Germany from 1997 to 2000.|
|24 March 2002||74th Academy Awards||Los Angeles||A performance for the special effects category at the 74th Academy Awards. The five-minute performance featured 11 acts from a variety of the company's shows at that time.|
|11 July 2004||Soleil de Minuit||Montreal||A collaborative performance between Cirque du Soleil and the Montreal International Jazz Festival to celebrate the 20th and 25th anniversaries of each respective organization, directed by Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon. The performance was televised live on CBC and later released on DVD.|
|16 July 2005||Reflections in Blue||Montreal||Cirque du Soleil created and performed the opening ceremony for the 2005 World Aquatics Championships in Montreal.|
|4 February 2007||One Day, One Game, One Dream||Miami Gardens,
|Cirque du Soleil created a performance inspired by Brazilian street theatre and the art of Romero Britto for the Super Bowl XLI pre-game show.|
|June–September 2008||El Despertar de la Serpiente||Zaragoza,
|El Despertar de la Serpiente (The Awakening of the Serpent) was a 65-minute moving parade production created for Expo 2008 in Zaragoza under the direction of Julien Gabriel.|
|17–19 October 2008||400th anniversary of Quebec City||Quebec City||Cirque du Soleil created a $3.3 million production involving 150 artists to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Quebec City in October 2008, running for a total of 5 performances.|
|24 June 2009 – 1 September 2013||Les Chemins invisibles||Quebec City||In 2009, Cirque du Soleil was given a $34.4 million, five-year contract by the city of Quebec to create free summer productions for tourists. The show, titled Les Chemins invisibles, premiered a different installment each year for five years between 2009 and 2013.|
|May–September 2010||Canada Pavilion||Shanghai||Cirque du Soleil co-created the Canada Pavilion in association with the Government of Canada for Expo 2010 in Shanghai. During its exhibition Cirque du Soleil performed and organized cultural programs for the pavilion.|
|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.|
|13 July 2013 – 30 July 2017||Scalada series||Andorra||Cirque du Soleil created a series of summer productions for the principality of Andorra beginning in July 2013. The shows, respectfully titled Scalada, Mater Natura, Storia, Vision, and Stelar, performed each summer before concluding in July 2017.|
|13–28 December 2014||The 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 75-minute concert featured a 30-person orchestra, a 70-person choir, and 8 veteran Cirque du Soleil singers performing a variety of songs the company's previous shows.|
|13 May–30 August 2015||Allavita!||Milan||Allavita! was an hour-long show featuring 48 artists created for Expo 2015 in Milan. The €8 million production was performed in an open-air theatre built by Expo 2015.|
|10 July 2015||2015 Pan American Games opening ceremony||Toronto||Cirque du Soleil created the opening ceremony for the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. The 150-minute presentation featured 625 performers from 25 nationalities, including pianist Chilly Gonzalez and vocalist Véronic DiCaire.|
|15 July 2015–present||Série Hommage||Trois-Rivières,
|An annual series of 75-minute summer shows paying tribute to Quebecois bands and musicians at the Amphithéâtre Cogeco in Trois-Rivières. Such tributes have included Beau Dommage, Robert Charlebois, Luc Plamondon, Les Colocs, and Les Cowboys Fringants.|
|2–10 January 2016||Joel||Moscow||Joel was a winter-inspired show directed by Fernand Rainville that performed in the 800-seat Barvikha Luxury Village concert hall in Barvikha, Moscow.|
|6 February 2016–present||La Forge aux étoiles||Vienne, France||Cirque du Soleil created an aquatic evening show to replace the Lady O show at the French theme park Futuroscope. It performs 250 to 300 shows a year on an outdoor aquatic stage, utilizing laser projections, water fountains, pyrotechnics, and fire rather than acrobatics.|
|16 June–9 September 2017||Reflekt||Astana,
|This 75-minute production featuring 80 performers was created and performed 71 times for Expo 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan, in the summer of 2017.|
|30 June 2018 – 27 July 2019||Diva and Rebel||Andorra||Following the Scalada series in Andorra, the Government of Andorra extended its contract with Cirque du Soleil by two years with two summer productions — Diva in the summer of 2018 and Rebel in the summer of 2019.|
|14 August 2018 – 19 August 2019||Monte-Carlo and Bôcca||Monaco||Cirque du Soleil was hired by the Monte-Carlo Sporting Summer Festival in the summers of 2018 and 2019 to create 65-minute productions to run for 5 performances each. 2018's Monte-Carlo was based in 1920s Monegasque culture while 2019's Bôcca was largely a dinner-theatre event.|
|23 September 2018—23 September 2019||Saudi National Day||Saudi
|An hour-long production in Riyadh featuring 80 artists created for the 2018 Saudi National Day. The company's decision to perform in Saudi Arabia for the first time was seen as a controversial one due to the August 2018 diplomatic dispute between Canada and Saudi Arabia. A second production was mounted in Dammam for five performances in September 2019 for the 2019 Saudi National Day.|
|27 November 2019–present||Vitori and others||Valletta, Malta||In April 2019, Cirque du Soleil announced a three-year contract with the Malta Tourism Authority to create a series of 60-minute shows performed at the Mediterranean Conference Centre. The first show, Vitori, played in November and December 2019.|
Cruise ship performances
Collaboration with Celebrity Cruises
In March 2004, Celebrity Cruises announced its first collaboration with Cirque du Soleil. By the end of that year, the collaboration had launched "The Bar at the Edge of the Earth" on both the Constellation and Summit cruise ships, a bar and lounge inspired by Cirque du Soleil featuring live characters and projections. However, due to lukewarm reception, Celebrity Cruises announced in October 2005 that it would be removing the live characters and projections from the lounges and retooling its Cirque du Soleil offering so as to create a more standard circus performance. In December 2005, the collaboration premiered the 30-minute acrobatic show A Taste of Cirque du Soleil on both ships. It continued through 2006 and was eventually discontinued.
Cirque du Soleil at Sea
On 9 November 2015, Cirque du Soleil announced that it would be re-entering the cruise ship business in collaboration with MSC Cruises. The partnership plans included a $21 million investment by MSC to create special theatre spaces in four of their Meraviglia class ships while Cirque du Soleil would create eight new shows, two on each ship in alternating performances. The partnership was later branded as Cirque du Soleil at Sea.
In June 2017, it launched its first two productions on the MSC Meraviglia — Viaggio and Sonor. This was followed by Syma and Varélia on the MSC Bellissima in March 2019 and Cosmos and Exentricks on the MSC Grandiosa in November 2019. Two more shows are expected to open with launch of the MSC Virtuosa in 2020.
Lounges and nightclubs
Following the opening of The Beatles Love in Las Vegas in June 2006, Cirque du Soleil opened the Revolution lounge at The Mirage resort in 2007, its first venture into the Las Vegas nightlife business. The lounge was based on the work of The Beatles, in conjunction with the concept of The Beatles Love. In 2009, the company opened the Gold Lounge at the Aria Resort and Casino based on the life of Elvis Presley and their show Viva Elvis. In May 2013 the Light Group opened the Light nightclub in collaboration with Cirque du Soleil at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in concurrence with the premiere of Michael Jackson One. It would later be host to the musical For the Record, the company's first project out of its theatrical division.
In October 2015, Cirque du Soleil renounced its intention to be involved in Las Vegas nightclubs and has since dissociated itself from all its lounges and clubs. Both the Revolution and Gold Lounges closed in 2015 while the Light nightclub is no longer affiliated with the company.
In 2014 Cirque du Soleil Média and Saban Brands produced Luna Petunia, an animated series for preschool-aged children. It began airing on Netflix in September 2016. On 1 May 2018, Saban Brands sold Luna Petunia to Hasbro.
In a collaboration with Universal Television and Sony Pictures Television, the Cirque du Soleil Theatrical division 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.
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. It typically takes 8 days to set up the tent site with approximately 100 local citizens hired as temporary staff overseen by one of the company's tent masters. Contrarily, it takes 3 days to deconstruct the entire site. The infrastructure that tours with each show includes the Grand Chapiteau, a large entrance tent, artistic tent, kitchen, school, and other items necessary to support the cast and crew.
Prior to 2006, Cirque du Soleil performed exclusively in tents and permanent theatres, with the exception of the brief arena tours of Le Grand Tour du Cirque du Soleil and Fascination in 1984 and 1992, respectively. Delirium marked the company's first significant touring show for the arena market in 2006. With Delirium's success, Cirque du Soleil began the practice of re-staging its Grand Chapiteau shows for arena tours, beginning with Saltimbanco in 2007 and subsequently occurring with most of their major Grand Chapiteau productions.
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 $20,145,168 in 2020) to the city government and local businesses.
The company's multimedia division Cirque du Soleil Images creates original products for film, television, video, and DVD and distributes its productions worldwide. Its creations have garnered numerous awards, including a multiple Gemini Awards and seven Primetime Emmy Awards for Fire Within, Corteo, Dralion, Nouvelle Expérience, and Le Cirque Réinventé.
|1985||Cirque du Soleil||A television adaptation of the production Cirque du Soleil, filmed live in Montréal in 1985. Only broadcast on television.|
|1988||La Magie Continue||A television adaptation of the production La Magie Continue. Filmed live in Toronto in 1986.|
|1989||Le Cirque Réinventé||A television adaptation of the production Le Cirque Réinventé. Filmed live in Montréal in 1988.|
|1991||Quel Cirque!||A promotional video about the touring production Nouvelle Expérience.|
|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.|
|1992||Knie Presents Cirque du Soleil||A television adaptation of the company's collaboration with Circus Knie, filmed live in Switzerland in 1992.|
|1994||Saltimbanco||A television adaptation of the production Saltimbanco. Filmed live in Atlanta in 1993.|
|1994||A Baroque Odyssey||A 10th 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 television adaptation of the production Quidam. Filmed live in Amsterdam in 1999.|
|1999||Alegría||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 theatres.|
|2000||Inside La Nouba||Highlights of the show and interviews with creators. Out of print.|
|2001||Dralion||A television adaptation of the production Dralion. Filmed live in San Francisco in 2000.|
|2002||Alegría||A television adaptation of the production Alegría. Filmed live in Sydney in 2001.|
|2002||Fire Within||A 13-episode miniseries about the creation and production of Varekai broadcast on Global and Bravo in 2002 and 2003. It subsequently won two Gemini Awards and a Primetime Emmy Award.|
|2003||Varekai||A television 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 television adaptation of the show La Nouba. Filmed live in Orlando in 2003.|
|2005||Kà Extreme||A documentary which explores the production of Kà by following the show's evolution from early rehearsals through to the first public performance.|
|2006||Corteo||A television 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. The performance in its entirety was broadcast on the latter.|
|2008||Koozå||A television 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. 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, Kà, The Beatles Love, Zumanity, Viva Elvis, and Criss Angel Believe.|
|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||Le Grand Concert||A television 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.|
|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. The series premiered on Netflix on 9 December 2016. Four new seasons were launched during 2017 and 2018.|
|2017||Kurios||A 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||A television adaptation of O for French-language TV channel Arte filmed live in Las Vegas in 2017 and first broadcast on 27 December 2017.|
|2018||Volta||A film adaptation of the touring show Volta, filmed live in Montréal in 2017 and released on Bell Fibe TV in 2018.|
Controversies and legal issues
Firing of HIV-positive artist
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. 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. 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". 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.
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.
Trademark and copyright disputes
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.
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.
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.
H.B. 2 law in North Carolina
In 2016 the company cancelled of all touring shows to North Carolina, including Ovo in both Greensboro and Charlotte, and Toruk in Raleigh, following signature of the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act (commonly known as "HB2") by North Carolina governor Pat McCrory. 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.
On 16 October 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. He had been with the company only a few months at the time of the accident. An initial report of the incident said Zhurov had fallen off a trampoline 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.
On 29 June 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 Kà in Las Vegas, Nevada. She'd been with the company since 2006. 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. 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. The show resumed 17 days after the death without the final aerial battle scene. The company was fined as a result.
On 29 November 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. Rochette was the son of Cirque du Soleil co-founder Gilles Ste-Croix.
On 17 March 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. He had been with the company for 15 years.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cirque du Soleil.|
- Official website
- "Cirque du Soleil collected news and commentary". The New York Times.
- The Cirque: An American Odyssey, documentary film about Cirque du Soleil's 1988 U.S. tour, National Film Board of Canada