In 1984 we gave ourselves five years to establish our organization. We started
as street performers, and we are now considered an International Cultural
Enterprise. We should be proud! However, the challenge still remains. Beyond
all success, how can we continue this magic and this dream that has made us
what we are? The show that Le
Cirque du Soleil presents this year will answer
for itself. The 1989 edition is more theatrical, more acrobatic, and more
colorful than ever. Furthermore, Le Cirque goes international: never have we
invited so many foreign artists. The emotion and the awakening will still
emanate throughout America this year because as in the past years, they will
hear the wheels of our Caravan full of happiness. – Guy Laliberté
Guy Caron leaves the company at the end of the 1988 season due to artistic
differences over what to do with the money generated by Le Cirque Réinventé’s
success. Laliberté sees expansion and the start of a second show while Caron
wants the money to be saved, with a portion being reinvested in his National
Circus School. An agreement is never met and Caron, along with a large number
of artists loyal to him, depart.
"In the beginning, it was about achieving an artistic dream. It was hard for
(my colleagues) to understand that I was always thinking four or five or 10 years
in advance," Laliberté says. When the money started pouring in, "I was always saying,
'OK, that could just be there for the moment. If you want to capitalize on that, you
have to reinvest that money in a new show.' ... I was trying to explain to them, we
should create an autonomous feeding circle, where the success of one show will
generate money to create another show."
Laliberté seeks out Gilles Ste-Croix, who had
been away from Cirque since 1985, as replacement for artistic director. He agrees
to return and while the 1989 tour of Le Cirque Réinventé
commands successes –
Miami, Chicago, and Phoenix are added to the tour and another 405,950 spectators
revel in the performances – more internal troubles ensue: including a failed
attempt to add Normand Latourelle as a third man to the Laliberté-Gauthier
partnership. This triumvirate lasts only six months before disagreements prompt
Gauthier and Laliberté to buy out Latourelle.
But with all the trouble, Cirque does have other reasons to celebrate:
In September 1988, Cirque du Soleil purchased a new big top from Bourdin Enterprises
in France. It cost $300,000, red poles, cupole, cornices, chains and pegs not included.
It's made of shiny PVC, not canvas. "After three years of touring, the old one was
getting worn out," says Richard Bouthillier, technical director and vice president of
the Cirque. "And it was leaking a lot." It holds 1,734 people - 400 chairs, and
grandstands with cushions for the rest. It's big enough to hold the wooden ring,
the moody purple theater lights, the five-piece band with synthesizers, the clowns
and trapeze. Big enough to hold the standing ovations that Cirque du Soleil has
gotten in Santa Monica, San Francisco, New York and Toronto. Once the circus trucks
arrive on site, 28 hours is all it takes to make camp (all 140,000 square feet of it.
The pegs go down. The tent masts go up. The electrical system, phone system, water
system and kitchen are set up. And then the tent, the bleachers, the stage ring, the
lights. Very last, a wooden sidewalk is laid around the tent's edge. Very chic!
The Cirque is also featured in Vanity Fair, Time, Life, People, Newsweek, Maclean's,
and in newspapers such as the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the
Washington Post, and USA Today. Even the major television networks are on the beat.
But by the end of 1989, Cirque du Soleil was once again in a deficit.
The year marks the end of Cirque du Soleil's original "five-year plan". "What
will the next five years bring?" Cirque du Soleil asked. And would these years
eclipse those that came before it? Buoyed by its growing creative success, Cirque
du Soleil begins attracting artists from around the world, particularly Russians
whose proud circus and acrobatic tradition makes a valuable contribution. But
what can the company do when financials are tight? Cirque attempts to revive
Le Cirque Réinventé for a fourth
tour (1990), which begins in Montreal the attempt is abandoned after weak critical
reception (it would send the show to London and Paris later on). Instead, the
powers that be craft a new show based on the plans Guy Caron originally drew up
before his departure.