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By 1996, Cirque du Soleil had three concurrent shows running - Saltimbanco on tour in Europe, and Mystère in Las Vegas - with a few more on the way...

    First, Cirque announced that it would be presenting a permanent show in Berlin. An agreement in principle with developer Dr. Peter and Isolde Kottmair would provide a theatre for Cirque du Soleil in a large real estate complex to be constructed on Leipziger Platz, in the heart of Berlin. The hall would seat an audience of 1,600 and be built in consultation with Cirque du Soleil at a cost of DM70 million. The architect would be Aldo Rossi, winner of the 1990 Pritzker Architecture Prize. "The show is scheduled to premiere in the year 2000, and this project will enable Cirque to ensure its Berlin activities until the year 2015."

    Second, Cirque announced that by June 1988, the company would inaugurate both a new show and a new theatre in Las Vegas. The home of the new show would be the Bellagio, a new hotel-casino under construction. Bellagio - like Treasure Island, where Mystère is presented is owned by Mirage Resorts. But unlike Mystère, this new show is to be a first for Cirque du Soleil - it's an aquatic show! "This will be a challenge for our creators, who are not yet very familiar with the demands of this type of production."

    And then, the Walt Disney Company and Cirque du Soleil announced that reached a long-term agreement for a new circus-style theatrical show produced by Cirque du Soleil to be housed within a 70,000-square-foot free-standing theater with a 1,650-seat capacity, to be constructed at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. "A brand-new production with an international cast of more than 70 performers will take to the stage the magic of Cirque du Soleil." The length of the agreement between parties is extended on a 12-year period and the first Walt Disney World performance will premiere in November 1998.

As its repertoire grows, Cirque du Soleil decides that its artists must have a single home in which to gather, create, rehearse, and dream; therefore, "The Studio", Cirque's new International Headquarters in Montreal, is born.

The Cirque du Soleil had been looking for a new home since 1991, as most of its facilities were split up among 16 different locations in Montreal, Longueuil and Cite du Havre. Last year, its rehearsal and production facilities were moved to a former Canadian Pacific storage facility, while its administrative headquarters remained on Notre Dame St. The Cirque has even had to rent space at Moscow Circus to rehearse certain trapeze performances because no adequate facilities exist in Montreal. But the new facility situated in the heart of the St-Michel neighborhood, will change all that. The 127,500-square-foot building will include three rehearsal studios (two with 60-foot ceilings), training rooms, a dance studio, costume and prop fabrication and repair shops, storage areas and administrative offices. The new building, designed by architect Dan S. Hanganu and Scéno Plus, has created a space conducive to creativity and excellence, an incubator for the innovative and daring ideas that are the hallmark of Cirque du Soleil productions around the world. Construction of the Headquarters represented an investment of approximately 40 million dollars. The new Head Office would open February 20, 1997.


Cirque du Soleil celebrates the launch of Quidam this year, ushering in a brand new sound. Long-time composer René Dupéré leaves Cirque to pursue personal challenges while protégé Benoit Jutras steps in. He'll remain with Cirque du Soleil through the end of Dragone's era, establishing his indelible sound across the Cirque Cosmos. After finishing its hometown run, Quidam heads off on another first for Cirque du Soleil: the North American tour will run three years instead of two. Three new cities - Denver, Houston and Dallas - are added to the itinerary, making this a 13-stop tour with over 940 performances under the new blue-and-yellow Big Top, which seats 2,500 (in new plush seats rather than bleachers). All in all, over 2,350,000 North American spectators will be applauding Quidam from now until 1998.

Guy Laliberte and Gilles Ste-Croix were even creative consultants in the creation and production of the Atlanta Olympic Games' opening cermony. In collaboration with AT&T, the major sponsor for the U.S. Tour, Cirque brought two acts from Quidam to Atlanta. Handbalancing was presented as the first part of the Santana concert on July 31st, and German Wheel opened Ray Charles’ and Joan Osborne’s concerts, August 1st and 2nd.

Will the little Cirque that could ever stop growing? Not yet, says founding president Guy Laliberte. Last year, after some soul-searching, the Cirque executive and creative team decided on a new five-year plan. "Then we'll see later on, what's going on," Laliberte said. "If it was only a question of money, we could sit now on our money. But money is not the point. The point is what we want to achieve artistically."

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