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AUG 2005
Issue 063

Solar flair
— Cirque du Soleil

The big top: that is the only similarity between a conventional circus and Cirque du Soleil. A ringmaster in glittering tuxedo and top hat, red-nosed clowns larking around in baggy trousers — forget all that.

When Canadian accordion player, stilt walker and fire-eater, Guy Laliberté created the Circus of the Sun (literal translation) in 1984, he reinvented entertainment under the big top. Using his organizational skill and his great gift for bringing people together, he turned a band of dynamic street entertainers into a unique and innovative form of circus, one with considerable international appeal and success.

In 1997 Laliberté was presented with The Ordre National du Québec, the highest distinction awarded by the Government of Québec. The the director, Franco Dragone has received three Obie Awards [Off Broadway Theatre Awards]. René Dupéré the composer's score for the current show, Alegria 2, has reached platinum-level sales twice in Canada.

Beyond generating sales revenue for the troupe, music is crucial to the performances. "The musicians not only contribute the music. Our rhythm must be precise because the artists depend on us for their cue, we can't miss a beat," says accordion player, Suzie Gagnon.

That injury is almost non-existent in a show that features daring aerial feats has a great deal to do with professionalism, and practice - but does circus camaraderie play a part too? Is the circus one big happy family?

"I would describe it as a large, and sometimes dysfunctional family,” says Montse Moré, marketing manager of the circus. “After all, we are from seventeen different countries, possess different talents and come from different backgrounds. To give you some idea, we have a casino dealer, a kick boxer and a car sales man in our troupe. Some performers come from traditional circus families and some were born on tour so touring is the only life they know. What is normal and what is not normal is very relative in the circus world. Having said that there is a very strong sense of group since we all depend on each other one way or another".

Alegria 2 is a powerful, engaging story. Visual effects, acrobatics, music, dance and dramatic characters in flamboyant costumes weave an imaginary tale of the transference of power over the centuries, a tale of beggars and kings. The beak-nosed, hunch-backed Fleur guides us through this world carrying his lighted sceptre, and humouring the old birds that hover around him.

The challenges of putting a show on the road are many. One of the main challenges is how to technically produce what is in the imagination of the creators in such a way that can be feasibly built.

"The most challenging is how to keep being creative enough to continue surprising the audience," adds Moré.
The circus has maintained that power to surprise: over seven million people around the world have seen the show.

Until September 25 at
New Big Top, Nanko, Osaka

Time: Sat-Wed: 12:00, 4:00pm, Fri: 19:00
Close: Thu and special days
Getting there: Cosmo Square station (OTS line)
Entry: Adults ¥5,500 / ¥9,000 / ¥11,500,
Children ¥3,500 / ¥5,500 / ¥7,500
(12 years and under)
Tel: 06-6233-8890

Text: Mylene Oishi • Photos: Courtsey CdS

:: Online Articles


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Kansai street dancers


Fatal beauty
The canyons of Arizona


One piece or two?
Summer beachwear style guide


Solar flair
Cirque du Soleil — Alegria 2


DJ John
The rhythm in the heart of Osaka

:: Listings


Up to date cinema listings guide so you always know what's on, where and when!

:: ART

Best exhibitions + listings


Best events + listings


Best gigs + listings


Parties not to miss + listings

:: Also in this month's mag


Green Earth
Vegetarian and vegan cuisine, Honmachi


Snacks Romana
IL Bar, Kitahama


A summer survival kit
Keeping ahead of the heat


New releases and top ten paperback books


Reel reviews of the silver screen +
Short Shorts Film Festival, Osaka


Net security on the cheap
Keep the worms out of your PC


Domestic and international news

KS talks to Montse Moré, Marketing Manager for Cirque du Soleil (CdS)

How did you get involved with the circus?
I was working as a PR in Barcelona for a promoter that specialized in bringing international entertainment to Spain and CdS was one of our clients. While I was working on a campaign for U2 I was told about the circus and my first reaction was, 'a circus?' But when the taxi dropped me off in front of the big top in Vienna any childhood memory of a visit to the circus vanished. Instantly I was transported to an exciting and magical new world. After that, I did the PR for Alegria in Barcelona, and in August 2000 I joined the circus.

Loves and hates of the job?
What I love about my job is that it combines my passion for travel, for scenic arts and for media. I work in a multicultural and creative-driven company which aims to evoke, provoke and invoke the emotions of the people wherever we go. I'm proud to work for a company that has a social conscience and one that for more than 20 years has been supporting youth at risk through various programs around the world. I love travelling, but hate packing! Things break, get lost, won't fit in the suitcase and more importantly, some new friends are left behind.

Any amusing or exciting tales to tell?
Well there is never a dull day at the circus I can tell you that!
My first real experience with Japanese media was quite amusing. It involved Bob Sapp (K1 Fighter) challenging our tour manager to an eating contest, then challenging one of our artists to do push ups and he ended by climbing and punching our big top! An exciting day for me was in Madrid when I hosted the surprise visit of the Spanish Royal family to the show. I almost choked when security told me that the car pulling over was driven by the King of Spain himself! There were paparazzi and the next day I was on the national papers with royalty. My cell phone did not stop ringing on that day.

What has been the reaction of the Japanese audience?
The Japanese audience reacts differently from others, first they are not big in clapping, but they do release an “oooohhhaaaahhh” that comes straight from the heart! We do not receive many stand up ovations here, but the artists receive flowers at the end of the show. This is a beautiful custom that we have never experienced in any other country, it should actually be exported. But, I was surprised to see bento boxes in the big top as people usually eat popcorn, not lunch!

What about the future of CdS?
The circus on the other hand is involved in many other projects along with the touring shows. Five permanent shows in Orlando and Las Vegas, and a sixth one has been announced for next summer in Las Vegas. We will also launch a permanent show in 2008 at Disney World in Tokyo and only last week a new project with Loto-Quebec was unveiled for a Casino, hotel and theater complex in Montreal. The adventures and ventures are many!