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Specials: Behind the Curtain

"Le Groupe du Soleil"

    Text by: Richard Russo | December 2002
    Fascination! Newsletter, Issue #16

Names and labels like "Créations Méandres", "Tous Azimuts", "Télémagik", and "Enterprises Nâga" have been seen on various Cirque du Soleil programmes, videos, CDs and other merchandise world-wide. Having seen these names one might ask how they all fit into the company known as Cirque du Soleil. In our efforts to investigate the various treasures that lurk inside Cirque du Soleil programmes, Let's take a moment to expand upon one of them: "Le Groupe du Soleil".

Imagine... when a handful of street performers met in the 1980s to do a show from time to time in their native Quebec they couldn't have dreamed where it would lead them, and yet this troupe flourished in a region with no circus tradition. Their drive and determination turned a collection of artists into one of the most recognizable companies in entertainment today. And it wouldn't surprise anyone to know that the Cirque du Soleil name is actually an umbrella, encompassing various divisions and companies.

What then is "Le Groupe du Soleil"?

"Le Groupe du Soleil" was and in many cases still is an interesting piece of Cirque's corporate puzzle from the very beginning of this enigmatic troupe. For example, from its initial creation through to 1989, Le Cirque du Soleil was produced by "Club des Talons Hauts, Inc.," the same group Cirque was born from. In that instance they were produced by that Company. Later that same year (August 1989), the last year the creators had given themselves to firmly establish their art, Cirque du Soleil as a Company changed and morphed into "Le Groupe du Soleil", completely shedding their "High-Heals Club" roots. Under the guidance of Daniel Gauthier (a one-time Cirque Treasurer, President and founding member), this new moniker encompassed many of the derived companies that sprang up in support of the artists and their product. They are:

  • Le Cirque du Soleil Productions -- Spark. This is the starting point; "the locomotive; the raison d'être". This part of the Groupe specializes in mounting tours, staffing its workshops and studios, and managing its vehicle fleet and specialized equipment.

  • Créations Méandres -- Creativity. This division manages the authors rights and copyrights, and takes charge of recruitment, training and publishes the music for the shows. This division was also known as Les Productions Méandres Inc.

  • Tous Azimuts Enterprises -- Investment. Tous Azimuts is an investment company handling the creation and development of other related companies for Cirque du Soleil. Tous Azimuts is also responsible for the marketing and publishing of CDs, programmes, T-shirts and other products bearing the Cirque du Soleil logo and likeness.

  • Télémagik -- Filmworks. This division was formed in 1988 and released the original 90-minute version of "Le Magie Continue", as well as various other Cirque du Soleil shows through the years. Télémagik was renamed Cirque du Soleil Images in May of 1997 to better brand the multimedia company with its parent.

  • Enterprises Nâga -- Services. This division provides a range of services from snack-bars to the creation, production, distribution, and management of Cirque du Soleil's promotional products. Enterprises Nâga released the CD and Vinyl editions of "Cirque du Soleil", the original 1987 tour music.

  • Admission/Microflex -- Tickets. This company was started with the assistance of Cirque du Soleil to distribute tickets for its shows as well as other cultural and sporting events throughout Quebec. Together with Microflex, a software company that specialized in computerized ticketing, it became the largest ticket-sales network in the province. Today Admission is owned by TicketMaster, the largest ticket-sales company in the world.

"Le Groupe du Soleil" is but one of many treasures awaiting discovery within the classic Cirque du Soleil programmes, and there are many more yet to come. Today you know "Le Groupe du Soleil" simply as "Cirque du Soleil, Inc." but you can still see many of the derivatives of the Groupe still at work. Look at the fine print inside your programme or on your CD... you might be surprised!

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