Cirque du Soleil

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil, [Fr.,=circus of the sun], innovative Canadian circus, est. 1984, with headquarters in Montreal. The best-known exemplar of cirque nouveau, Cirque du Soleil is a mixture of spectacle, music, and dance and, unlike traditional circuses, does not include animals. Performed in one ring and exotically titled (e.g., Saltimbanco,Quidam,Varekai), each Cirque du Soleil production centers around a unique theme and features spectacular theatrical effects by performers that are masters of clowning, stilt-walking, trapeze and other acrobatics, juggling, contortionism, mime, and other traditional circus arts.

Founded by onetime busker Guy Laliberté, the circus began touring in 1985 and has grown into a multimillion-dollar entertainment empire. In 1993 the company premiered its first Las Vegas show; another show is regularly presented at Walt Disney World in Florida. By the early 21st cent. Cirque du Soleil was presenting more than a dozen touring shows simultaneously worldwide.

See T. Babinski and K. Manchester, Cirque du Soleil (2004); M. Schreiber, Dreams of the Solo Trapeze (2005).

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