Cirque du Soleil

This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.

Picture credit : Matt Beard

The twenty-first century circus.

In 1984, Guy Laliberté had a vision for the next century’s circus. The street performer from Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec imagined a spectacle that would centre on the virtuosity of the world’s finest performing artists. No prancing horses and snarling tigers, s’il vous plaît, no faded big tops or sawdust-strewn floors at local hockey arenas. This new circus would amaze with feats of alomost inhuman strength and agility, dazzle with colourful costumes and brilliant lights, captivate with original music played live and continuously, invoke the imagination, provoke the senses and evoke the emotions. This new circus would blaze with the energy of the sun. Fired with the support of key partners, generous professional assistance and timely financial backing from governments, Laliberté made his vision real. Cirque du Soleil grew rapidly from a single touring show to become the largest theatrical producer in the world– staging dozens of immersive spectacles that transfix those in attendance. Artistic triumph has led to business success. Cirque du Soleil now employs four thousand people from fifty different countries performing in tents, theatres, nightclubs, casinos, films and television specials. Over 160 million spectators have experienced Cirque du Soleil – one Canadian’s startling vision realized for the world to see.

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