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One of the biggest headlines of the year is the official announcement that Alegría, one of Cirque's most iconic shows, would make a triumphant return under the big top to celebrate its 25th anniversary. "Staying true to the essence of the original creation, Alegría will retain its unique spirit of joy and optimism for which it was renowned around the globe. [We] will revisit the show through today's lens to ensure it is as inspiring as it was 25 years ago."

Alegría has remained very much alive in the hearts of its fans, who regularly request its comeback. Its emblematic title song, which was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1995, continues to be a fan favorite and remains Cirque du Soleil's most watched song on YouTube still today. "Alegría has marked a whole generation of Cirque du Soleil fans. We want to honor their connection to the show and recreate the emotions they felt back in 1994, while leveraging all the possibilities offered to us today. Alegría is a rallying anthem for change and hope, and that is, after all, timeless", explained Diane Quinn, Cirque du Soleil's Chief Creative Officer.

"It was important for us to highlight the immense impact that Alegría has had on our fans as well as our company. Audiences and employees alike have asked for its return for years, and what better way to do so than through the celebration of its 25-year anniversary. As we continue to look forward and strive to innovate in everything we do, we wanted to pause and celebrate one of the shows that has made Cirque du Soleil what it is today – a global leader in live entertainment", said Yasmine Khalil, Chief Executive Producer at Cirque du Soleil.


With the announcement of Alegría's return, Cirque du Soleil also announced that it reorganized its creation and production department with 45 DEGREES, the division dedicated to the creation of special events, taking over. Jean-François Bouchard, who was head of creation at Cirque du Soleil, left the company to join Guy Laliberté's company Lune Rouge. Although the parting was said to be an amicable one... it was not.

The new Cirque creation team is headed by Diane Quinn, a veteran Cirque manager who became Chief Creative Officer. She will be working with Daniel Fortin, who used to be executive creative director of 45 DEGREES, and Yasmine Khalil, who becomes chief executive production officer. She was president of 45 DEGREES. "We have so many shows that we had to gather (everyone) under one roof and work together and now we're looking at adding some more people because we're really busy," said Fortin. "It's fun because we have different points of view. We have different ways of seeing things. It's not just one direction. It's many directions." The hope is that arrival of the 45 DEGREES team will lead to a diversification of the types of things the Cirque produces. "We're trying to look at different ways of doing creation," said Fortin. "We're doing Cirque yes, but immersive content. Different kinds of shows. We want to do the kind of shows we did at 45 [DEGREES]."

One of those concepts is BAZZAR, a touring show created specifically to crack India and other emerging countries where the company doesn't yet have a presence. "I think the opportunity for us is enormous," said Finn Taylor, senior vice-president of the Touring Shows Division. "India's economy is growing year after year. So we wanted to get in now to be able to establish our brand, to get in early before everyone else comes and be able to set a footprint."

BAZZAR is part of a strategic effort by the Cirque to push into new international markets in recent years under the majority ownership of private equity firm TPG Capital Group. Although it is already present in a few emerging countries such as China, this is the first time the company has readied a show from scratch to meet specific market conditions: namely a population with limited financial means and limited space available to set up the show itself. BAZZAR is, in sum, Big Top on a budget. Those limitations mean that the performance has been scaled down. A typical Cirque big-top touring show tent has a 51-meter diameter. This one will stretch only 41 meters. About 60 to 70 performers and technicians will put on the show, far fewer than the usual 100 to 110. And the audience will be more intimate too, at 1,500 people versus the typical 2,500. And the cost? Tickets are roughly half of what you would pay in Europe or North America.

"India is one of those last big frontiers," Mr. Taylor said. "Even if we don't make money the first year, it's worth us going to be able to establish a very lucrative market in the long run." Cirque is currently in talks with stakeholders in Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia to bring Bazzar to the African continent. It is also eyeing performances on the space-constrained Greek islands of Santorini and Mykonos, company officials said.


But Cirque wasn't about to put all its hopes and dreams into one experiment. It was also going to continue on the acquisition front. Cirque du Soleil announced on Thursday, July 5th, the acquisition of Minnesota-based VStar Entertainment Group and its Florida-based circus arts subsidiary Cirque Dreams. The addition of VStar Entertainment Group to its portfolio allows the Montreal creative powerhouse to expand its audiences with plug-and-play creative content specifically designed for children and families. With its integrated live entertainment platform and broad global distribution network in small theaters, the acquisition of VStar and Cirque Dreams will contribute to further establishing Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group as the world leader in live entertainment for audiences of all ages.

    "Building on the successful integration of Blue Man Group over the last year, today we are taking another decisive step towards realizing our ambition. While circus arts will always be at the core of our creative offering, we continue to look for ways to expand and diversify our portfolio with new forms of entertainment and new brands, reaching new audiences and expanding our own creative and production capabilities", said Daniel Lamarre, President and CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group. "VStar Entertainment Group has a proven track record and recognized expertise in small theatrical production, which complements Cirque du Soleil's expertise in large-scale production and global touring. We firmly believe the knowledge transfer will help us develop our own capabilities in this type of entertainment and therefore, contribute to growing our footprint in the live entertainment production industry."

    VStar Entertainment Group is a live entertainment provider producing theatrical shows, exhibits, cruise ship shows and outdoor events. VStar is best known for its children and family shows showcasing popular brands from Nickelodeon and Spin Master, such as PAW Patrol. Over nearly four decades, it has built an impressive footprint in the global entertainment industry, presenting over 39,000 performances in more than 40 countries, reaching over two million guests annually. On its own, PAW Patrol Live "Race to the Rescue" toured in 250 cities in 18 countries on 4 different continents in 2017.

    "VStar has a history of growing through partnerships with great entertainment brands and we are always on the lookout for the next transformative opportunity. We now find ourselves on the brink of our next chapter and only a global producer like Cirque du Soleil could help us achieve our vision. Their expertise in the live entertainment industry is unparalleled and it is an honor to join forces with their organization", said Eric Grilly, CEO of VStar Entertainment Group.

    Cirque Dreams, founded by Broadway Director Neil Goldberg and established in Florida, is the entertainment group's circus arts division which successfully produces and operates tours and shows in theatres and various popular touristic venues through partnerships with Norwegian Cruise Line and Gaylord Hotels, among other business to business opportunities. "I have always admired the creative forces behind Cirque du Soleil and could not wish for a better partner to continue developing Cirque Dreams. I look forward to contributing my creative mindset to the company's evolution", added Cirque Dreams President Neil Goldberg.

The deal puts Cirque du Soleil in third place in the live entertainment industry after Live Nation Entertainment Inc. and Anschutz Entertainment Group Inc. "Which, in terms of position, is great because we think there is room for someone to consolidate the live entertainment market," Lamarre said. "And we're seeing ourselves as that consolidator."

And the Cirque hasn't finished diversifying.

"We have an amazing distribution machine, touring in 450 cities around the world with each show that we develop," he said. "This distribution machine can distribute more than just Cirque. We want to be able to be in a market for as long as possible. That's why we're looking for shows that are different from the ones we currently have in our portfolio."

With this diversification, some fear the Cirque may stray from its main mandate of producing artsy circus shows, but that is not the case. "We are going to produce more Cirque du Soleil shows than ever before," Lamarre said. "So the core business remains a very important development axe of our business. We have a lot going on in China, we have new shows in development. The mandate we have from our new owners is to become the global leader of live entertainment and in order to do that, if you don't want to put too much pressure on the core business, it's by adding other types of content to acquire new audiences."

The Cirque used to produce one new show a year, which meant they usually had two new shows in the pipeline at any given time. Now the circus is producing three new shows a year, which means they have about 10 productions in different phases of development now. And what might those be?


Via 45 DEGREES, Cirque du Soleil would continue performing in beautiful Andorra la Vella in 2018 with DIVA, which paid tribute to some of the greatest divas of all time; launch the fourth opus in the Hommage Series at the Amphithéâtre Cogeco in Trois-Rivières - "Juste une p'tite nuite", a show that played tribute to Les Colocs, one of the most important groups of the 1990's; and present special one-off events at the Monte Carlo Sporting Summer Festival, and the 88th Saudi Arabia National Day celebrations.

45 DEGREES also had a hell of a showing at the Dubai World Cup. Annually held on the last Saturday in March, the Dubai World Cup is a Thoroughbred horse race held annually since 1996 and contested at the Meydan Racecourse. This year's opening and closing ceremonies saw 28 acrobats and 42 dancers from all over the world put on a breathtaking performance, wearing 70 hand-maid costumes, while performing on an 86-meter moving stage that weighed more than 170 tonnes. "We developed an entirely new concept for the performance based on the theme 'Make the Desert Bloom'," said Fernand Rainville. A laser and special effects show was projected onto the grandstand and Meydan Hotel, even as flamethrowers enthralled the crowds, backed by a pyrotechnic drone show, along with giant heliosphere balloons carrying aerialists more than 40 meters in the air as they were illuminated by 10,000 confetti petals.

It would, however, see the closing of the NFL Experience in Times Square. The joint venture between the NFL and Cirque du Soleil did not "meet expectations."

The main Cirque du Soleil brand wasn't nearly as busy this year. Although first announced way back on July 21, 2016, and then delayed to allow CRYSTAL to launch, CORTEO's Arena Remount finally pushed forward with a completely new stage, a new acrobatic structure, but a couple of new acts with only a small adaptation to the original story line. While CORTEO and the aforementioned BAZZAR would be the only two shows Cirque du Soleil would launch this year, the company had a number already on deck for next year: ALEGRIA: IN A NEW LIGHT, PARAMOUR (in Germany), AXEL (a new skating show), MESSI10 (in partnership with soccer player Leo Messi), X: THE LAND OF FANTASY (in Hangzhou, China), and R.U.N (a replacement for Criss Angel at Luxor). Not to mention an announcement that Cirque and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts were officially working together on a new collaboration to replace LA NOUBA. This original show will pay homage to Disney's rich history of animation, with a vivid story told in a way that only Cirque du Soleil can deliver. Look for this show to debut in 2020 (with music by Benoit Jutras).

The media side stepped up its game by launching the first ever live-action kids series for Cirque du Soleil: BIG TOP ACADEMY, by Apartment 11 Productions in association with TVOkids. Set in a fictitious circus arts boarding school, "BIG TOP ACADEMY" tells the story of an extraordinary group of young acrobats who dream of becoming professional circus artists.


Even with all that Cirque du Soleil had going on in 2018, the company also found time to partner with Fathom Events to show Kurios-Cabinet of Curiosities in cinemas throughout the United States and Canada; collaborate with both Sir Rosevelt (for a one-time performance in Denver, Colorado) and Jewel (basing One Night for One Drop 6 on the events of her life story); and have OVO represent the company at this year's Royal Variety Performance gala in London with the magnificent slack-wire act.

At IAAPA Expo 2018 in Orlando WhiteWater (a world leader in designing and manufacturing complete water parks) announced it was partnering with Cirque du Soleil to create a unique new water entertainment concept:

    Cirque du Soleil has created a unique water park entertainment concept, consisting of 15-minute evening shows that take place at the same attractions guests enjoyed during the day. The productions will feature Cirque du Soleil performers and run a few times every night, allowing guests to pick and choose which ones they'd like to enjoy and in what order. "The result is a water park that entertains visitors both in the day time and after sun down," says Su Ann Quah of WhiteWater. "In the day, visitors enjoy a range of thrilling and innovative water rides and slides, while at night, they'll have the chance to experience a completely transformed environment. The water park morphs into a festive venue with music, specialty food and drinks, and picturesque illuminated trails which intertwine the main features of the evening program." She says that Cirque and WhiteWater have crafted a concept that encourages repeat visitors, and the lengthened operating hours increases revenue while using the same infrastructure. "In essence, this entertainment concept is the ideal anchor for premium global destinations as it seamlessly complements hospitality, retail and resort venues, which welcome guests at all hours of the day."

WhiteWater asserts, the productions will serve as an ideal anchor for waterparks as "it seamlessly compliments hospitality, retail, and resort venues which welcome guests at all hours of the day." Martin Boudreau, president and executive producer of Cirque du Soleil's Parks and Hospitality says "WhiteWater and Cirque due Soleil have always pushed the limits of what we can do." He adds that, working together, the two companies will "redefine the waterpark experience" through the attractions and entertainment added to the venues. WhiteWater's chief business and development officer, Paul Chutter noted that the company is already in discussion with two parties looking at the goal of franchising Cirque du Soleil parks at several locations worldwide.

But perhaps the most interesting and head-scratching endeavour beyond the big top was the announcement of a Cirque du Soleil wine - the Cirque du Soleil Rosé - born out of a partnership between wine innovators Truett-Hurst Winery and Wines That Rock, LLC. "We are pleased to have been presented with such an opportunity by Truett-Hurst for our first wine release with this delightful rosé. At Cirque du Soleil, we embrace those who audaciously want to do, try, see and feel things differently, and this is one of the reasons why we agreed to take on this adventure," said Jonathan Tétrault, President and COO of Cirque du Soleil brand. "We pulled out all the stops and assembled a dream team for this project. From our master winemakers in France, the luxurious glass selected for the bottle, to our collaboration with the Cirque du Soleil team on the elegant label, this project was a dream come true," said Phil Hurst, Co-Founder, President and CEO of Truett-Hurst Winery.

Tasting Notes

COMPOSITION — Grenache 70%,
                                 Cinsault 20%,
                                 Syrah 10%
ALCOHOL — 13.0% by vol.
RS — Dry, 0.5 g/l
COLOR — Pale Pink
AROMAS — Citrus and Floral
FLAVOR — Ssummer Berries and Citrus
BODY — Light

This delightful Rosé is a delicate, charmingly pale and shiny pink rose in the glass with beguiling aromas of small red fruits, giving way to a beautiful floral range of flavors. This light-bodied wine is delicate and supple, velvety and fresh with slightly fruity notes leading to a crisp and refreshing finish. It is revelry in a bottle!
The creation of this premium Rosé de Provence required a lot of savoir-faire. Inspired by the infinite elegance of water, biodiversity of soil, the mistral wind that keeps the vineyards dry, and the raging emotions of the sun, grapes are transformed into a poetic ballet of sublime joy. Like Cirque du Soleil shows, this inspiring wine from the south of France provides pleasure and celebration, and takes us on an unexpected journey that lives in the moment but lasts in our memories. Cirque du Soleil Rosé is a joyous feast for the senses. Cirque du Soleil embraces those who audaciously want to try, see and feel things differently. As makers of joy, curiosity and because ordinary just won't do, this Cirque du Soleil Rosé inspires people to celebrate the moment, keep life spontaneous and escape the mundane.

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