THE DAWN OF A NEW ERA
On February 2, 2001, Daniel Gauthier, longtime President of Cirque du Soleil, took
his final bow from the organization which had for so long possessed his heart and
filled his days. A show in true “Cirque style” was put together by the employees
and artists and it paid tribute not only to Daniel, but also bore witness to the
remarkable history of Cirque born of the relationship, both creative and
entrepreneurial, between Guy Laliberté and Daniel Gauthier. Thus, the final page
was turned on Volume I of Cirque du Soleil.
But, Volume II was already in the works. In October 1999, the first conceptual
meeting regarding a new form of entertainment was held in the small community of
St-Marc-sur-Richelieu, around the table a select group, led by Guy Laliberté, who
peered into the mists on the future. What is the entertainment of the future and
how can Cirque du Soleil be at its forefront? Lyn Heward, President and COO of the
Creative Content Division, answers the question:
The entertainment of the future will break-down the barriers between the theatre,
television, film, multimedia, computers and the “real life” of people. We will no
longer be spectators, but participants in a multitude of “experiences” which seek
to stimulate our imagination, mind and body. The entertainment of the future will
touch every aspect of our lives, from transportation to shopping, from sleep to
exercise, from the environment to the workplace. This is Cirque du Soleil’s new
playground! In the coming months and years you will no doubt hear much more about
our forays into the wide world of entertainment and the expanded role that performers
will play in each and every venture!
However, Volume II is prefaced by a renewed commitment to our creative core; each
new project, be it a show, a film, a commercial product, a record, a shop… must be
fueled by the creative process which has become synonymous with the Cirque du Soleil
brand. We will continue to produce the “Cirque-style” touring and resident shows
which have become our flagships around the world. We will continue to audition and
cast performers from a multitude of disciplines and from countries around the world.
We will hone their skills in our Montreal Studio and they will experience the fiery
passion of our creative process under the bigtop and in specially designed theatres.
But, our creators and designers, both new and old, will be given opportunities to
explore and create on another plane, expanding our notion of entertainment and
exploiting media which seventeen short years ago were merely an inventor’s dream.
Of course, these new entertainment ventures will necessitate the development of
relationships with partners who have refined business acumen in a variety of fields
and a strong desire to support our creative process and live in the cyclone of our
dream, partners who are prepared to take the same risks which we must take daily to
give entertainment a new edge. I am sure that all of this sounds a little mysterious:
what does it mean? What form will it take? Where will it take place? This is all part
of an intense long term plan which balances our immediate need to create and produce
Cirque-branded shows, as well as supporting the ones currently in distribution, and our
urge to expand into new creative horizons, multimedia, merchandising and retail,
hospitality, tourism and "wonderment" of every sort.
Boiled down: Cirque was going to do things differently.
The style that Franco Dragone championed – an approach that promoted
spontaneity over rigidity – goes by the wayside. New shows begat new directors
and creative teams, no one show from this moment on is created by the same
group of people. And those who come into the Director’s fold already have a
plan: each show is now scripted from beginning to end, fostering a loss of
that special je ne sais quoi in the process. Now it seemed as if Cirque du
Soleil was an entertainment company rather than an artistic one. Perhaps a
better comparison would be a symphony, with its resident conductor providing
base and guest conductors taking the orchestra and audience off in new directions.
KEEP ON KEEPING ON
Cirque du Soleil keeps on growing with the inauguration of a 14,000-square-metre
addition to its International Headquarters in Montreal. In addition,
off a three-year tour of the immense Asia-Pacific region in Auckland, New Zealand
(car maker BMW jumped at the chance to sponsor the tour, displaying a series of
pictures featuring the two contortionists). Six other shows continue to dazzle audiences
across the world: Saltimbanco in
Japan, Mystère in Las Vegas,
«O» in Las Vegas,
La Nouba at the Walt Disney World
Resort in Orlando, Florida, Quidam
in Europe (where it would represent Cirque du Soleil for the third time at the Royal
Variety Performances gala with Mark Ward as John performing the Darts act and Corde
Lisse), and Dralion in the United States.
On October 30th, Cirque du Soleil released its entire show catalogue onto DVD:
La Magie Continue,
Le Cirque Réinventé,
Nouvelle Expérience, and
as well as Journey of Man
and Baroque Odyssey
(the 10th Anniversary documentary). A few days later,
"Cirque du Soleil presents: Alegría",
a special 90-minute television production of its signature show, premieres on TV.
And, by year’s end, 6 million people or more will have attended a Cirque show worldwide.