LA FÊTE FORAINE
La Fête foraine was intended to re-create the atmosphere similar to
that of a Middle Ages Festival, when street performers would roam the
cities during the great market fairs of the period, done so to keep with
the concept concerning entertain-ment ambiance and environ-ment. Their wish
was to interact with the spectators in a more playful way, rather than
being limited to the rigid formal social constraints of traditional
performing environments. "When we decided that this event would take
place downtown, we had a few objectives in mind: getting involved in
the everyday life of the population that had encouraged our success so
far, so as to be able to share with them the joy we had in just being
alive" (Plein-Jour sur Charlevoix, July 14th, 1982).
For three years in a row, from 1982 to 1984, the Baie-Saint-Paul Fair
was a tremendous success. For a whole week, the streets of Baie-Saint-Paul
became the playground of a new generation of circus artists from Quebec,
Canada, the United States and Europe. Le Club des talons hauts attracted
notice, and Guy Laliberté, Daniel Gauthier, Gilles Ste-Croix, Robert Lagueux
and manyothers began to cherish their crazy dream: to create a Québecois circus
and take the troupe travelling around the world. This talented group of
young Quebec street entertainers had come together under a lucky star.
Although a full two years pass before Cirque du Soleil as we know it today
is created, its founders say that it was at that mystic moment in Baie
Saint-Paul in 1982 that Cirque du Soleil was conceived. The aurora
borealis hits Baie Saint-Paul on the first day of La Fête Foraine. The
sun has set but the sky is streaked with waves of otherworldly light.
Green and silver refractions chase each other across the dome of the sky
throughout the performance.
In 1983, as Québec prepared to celebrate the 450th anniversary celebration
of the French explorer Jacques Cartier's discovery of Canada, a number of
events were organized by the provincial government. A wild dream was growing
in Laliberte's head: to create a new breed of circus, spectacular yet poetic,
for adults and children alike. Club des Talons Hauts
took advantage of their Fair as an occasion to propose the creation of a
bona-fide circus. Guy Laliberté presented a proposal for a show called
"Le Grand Tour du Cirque du Soleil" and at first Clément Richard, the
Minister of Cultural Affairs, showed little interest in the idea, but the
proposal was awarded a $1.6 million grant and the race was on.