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Cirque du Soleil [ You are here: Grand Chapiteau | Historia | 1986 ]




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    The Cirque du Soleil was born of heady ambition, the desire to capture the marvelous, to seize two hours of magic from life. Because it offers entertainment for all ages, adults and children alike share a moment of enchantment. Outside the ring, after we had removed our makeup and the stage lights were off, we put this 1986 show together with one goal in mind – to cast a spell on the audience the moment they enter the big top. We offer abandon, magic moments when time stands still. This year, the Cirque du Soleil is making a major breakthrough in its brief career. Barely into our third season, we are already conquering new horizons; embarking on a tour that will take us to Vancouver. Part of this new momentum is the common will shared by performers and administrators to make the Cirque du Soleil a unique and solid cultural institution, as well as a business that contributes to the economy. Our show has been created with love and spirit; we have always felt that our country should have its own circus and all our efforts have been directed to making this dream come true! – Guy Laliberte.

Inspired by the best of what was happening internationally, in 1986 Cirque creates a new theatricality and adopted a vision whereby rules exist only to be broken. Guy Caron brings in Franco Dragone to teach Cirque artists commedia dell'arte. The mandate is clear: to produce a European-style professional show anchored in acrobatics, with original music and without animals. From the Chinese they learned about perfecting the blend of presentation, music and choreography--about grace and beauty, gestures and smiles. Cirque drew upon an impressionistic sensibility, took everything that had existed in the past, and pulled it into today.

In response to all that it has learned, Cirque du soleil revamps their young show into La Magie Continue, and stages it in eight cities across Canada, including the Children's Film Festival in British Columbia, and in Vancouver, where it puts on several performances representing Canadian heritage as part of the festivities surrounding Expo'86. The gamble propels Cirque to new heights in attendance and success. The breakthrough came because Cirque appeared with its French name to reflect its roots and tradition, David said. "It was a good decision, because people in Toronto heard about us through the media, and when we came back to Toronto we sold out. We also achieved one of our goals which was to be recognized as a national institution." That success also allowed them to take risks – for the first time in Cirque history they extended an invitation to the Chinese government to have a team of its most talented acrobats take part. That invitation grew into the Spinning Meteor performance and a life-long partnership with the Chinese arts.

Cirque du Soleil makes its name on the international stage too, as acts are awarded top honors at competitions and festivals around the world. Denis Lacombe, from the Ecole nationale de cirque, wins a bronze medal for his "orchestra conductor" number at the Festival du Cirque de Demain in Paris. And as interest in Cirque du Soleil grows, so does the big top. The Cirque bought the 30-ton, $300,000 big top in April 1985 from a company of Italian specialists. "No one in Canada can manufacture this kind of tent, tent specialist Richard Bouthillier said in an interview. Designed to fit into a modified tractor-trailor, it seats 1,500 and takes between 24 and 48 hours to put up depending on temperature, winds and the efficiency of local crews. "We're starting a circus tradition in Canada," Bouthillier says proudly. Like many veterans of Le Cirque, he learned his craft in Europe. In his case, this meant travelling to Switzerland to spend time with Marcel Rossell, tent master of the renowned Circus Knie. "He's one of the best in the world," Bouthillier said. "I visited him in 1984 and 1985 and was with him from morning to night. He taught me everything."

Yes, Cirque gained some traction, but it had its appetite set on bigger sights: The United States. And they knew just where to go. To conquer the land south of the border, Cirque began to think of ways to re-invent the circus.

1985 1987
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