THE STUDIO: A NEW HOME
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.
A NEW SOUND
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