The stage was dotted with about a dozen mock-ups of well-known
Quebec City buildings. At the foot of the stage, spectators could gaze
on a sand landscape created by Guy Beauregard, representing the
shore as well as a second—imaginary—city. Children were busily
working to finish building this utopian city. Among them was little Julie,
who would be an integral part of the show, searching for her roots.
While playing in the sand, the children found a mysterious “time key,”
which they planted in the centre of the stage, like a flag proudly
marking the foundation of their city of dreams. The key immediately
triggered a giant projection on the stage. . . which just as quickly
transformed itself into a huge sundial. Then the Sun started spinning in
the sky, bringing us back to the early days of Quebec City. The
existing buildings flew up into the heavens, with spectators recognizing
the Château Frontenac, Place Royale and the gates to the city. It was
a highly emotional moment.
1608: Samuel de Champlain’s Arrival
As the Sun danced in the sky, all the navigators lost their way and
converged towards Quebec City, the centre of the universe for the
duration of the show. The audience excitedly watched a bevy of
curious explorers setting anchor near the city, seeking new
discoveries. These magical ships docked at centre stage, after which
their passengers disembarked. And so began the first Quebec
community—not to mention the start of a spectacular show. Once on
land, the sailors quickly fell in love with place and used parts of their
boat to build a huge communal home.
To celebrate the completion of the new communal home, the first
inhabitants gathered in front of a living “flag.” A young man performed
a balancing act on a rotating mast, illustrating that human beings
formed the core of this community.
A treasure chest was then opened, and out came two artists who
performed a scintillating rola-bola act. They were accompanied by 18
“settlers” dancing to the music, alongside little wooden men busily
doing a jig.
The Nostalgic Sailor
In a peaceful moment paying tribute to quiet happiness, an old man
left a small dwelling and walked to the end of the dock with little Julie.
Gazing upon the immense body of water, the man whistled and spoke
to the birds in the forest as he angled for fish. Suddenly, 40 fishermen
emerged from the stands of the Colisée. A giant appeared among
them, hauling a cart carrying the clowns and singer
Francesca Gagnon. Tribute was paid to Louis Cyr, the well-known
Quebec strongman born in 1863.
Twenty-six fixed trapezes / swings dropped down to “pick up” as many
artists and raise them into the sky. They were soon joined by four
swinging trapeze artists who performed the second part of this act, like
children swinging in a summer sky, replete with the joy of freedom.
An impressive act that was a fan favourite: Eight jugglers plying their
trade to folklore music, accompanied by a skipping rope virtuoso, a
diabolo whiz, a spoon player, a Jew’s harp player, an accordionist and
eleven percussionists. Need we say that the amphitheatre was the site
of a spectacular celebration? Spectators were not only clapping wildly,
they were asking for more!
Much like a storytelling magician, an artist created drawings in the
sand which were simultaneously projected on the stage and ceiling. A
village was transformed into a sun, while a woman’s face became
Samuel de Champlain. The clowns and little Julie walked through the
drawing, dancing and lying down among the shapes and forms
created. This performance was followed by a dynamic hand-to-hand
A brilliant combination of three hoops, three Cyr wheels and one 2-
Zen-O wheel gave spectators the impression of having been
transported to an autumn landscape, just when the trees explode into
their majestic display of fire and gold.
A High-Flying Dive
The eight jugglers were back on stage, this time brandishing fiery
torches. Meanwhile, artists climbed a ladder up to the ceiling, jumping
and landing on a mattress 30 metres below. The act’s highlight: An
artist climbed to the top of the tower, burst into flames and then, after
staying in that position for what seemed like an interminable few
seconds as the audience held its collective breath, launched himself
into the air to much “oohing” and “aahing.”
Floatilla of Memories
The old nostalgic sailor, like the survivor of a shipwreck, floated
on a raft borne by the crowd as he watched his life
pass before his eyes. The scene shifted to a succession of all the
ships he had sailed on, as well as a contortionist in a giant bottle that
had been cast out to sea, a singer in a rowboat and a twin of the sailor,
walking down a path of mirrors held aloft by acrobats.
Four artists excited the audience with a pas de quatre, a dynamic
ballet in which the dancers pushed the envelope, balancing gracefully
on the arms and heads of their partners.
Two artists proceeded to do an acrobatic dance on a unicycle. The two
lovebirds evoked the grace and power of snowflakes or figure skaters
on a frozen lake. They were followed by four young trial unicycle artists
who jumped up the stairs of the Colisée’s stands to end up cycling all
the way around the edge of the rink!
A simply grandiose finale: On the central stage, two trampolines
stacked one on top of the other appeared, incorporating four Chinese
poles. On the north side of the Colisée, six artists were entertaining the
crowd on Russian bars, while others—on the south side—leapt around
on a teeterboard. The 40 fishermen emptied confetti from their pails as
the rink was suddenly filled with jugglers, skippers, the diabolo artist
and girls from the troupe twirling ribbons in celebration of the 400th
anniversary in the air, all under the watchful eyes of two flying men.
Once the performances were over, the spectators jumped to their feet, warmly
applauding the artists gathered at centre stage. Everyone present was deeply
touched by this gift offered by Cirque, a magical two-hour escapade into the past!