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Celebrating the 400th Anniversary of Quebec City!

In honour of the 400th anniversary of Quebec City, Cirque’s Events team put on a majestic show. The project was headed by Michel Laprise, the show’s director: "We truly wanted to be a part of the Quebec City celebrations, especially because it was the first to take a chance on Cirque." Before the start of each performance, the atmosphere in the Colisée was one of celebration, with the spectators—who had received free tickets—eagerly waiting for the magic to start. The designers had in fact created a special show just for the occasion: 16 scenes which each included various acts. Below is a summary of the event.  
Premiere: October 17 to 19, 2008
Type: Special Event
Status: One-Time Show

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    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.

    The Building

    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.

    The Settlers

    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.

    Trapeze-Filled Sky

    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.

    The Harvest

    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 act.


    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!

    Eternal Spring

    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!

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    The event-show created especially for the 400th anniversary of Quebec City was nothing less than gigantic. It involved:

    • Three weeks in the rehearsal room and five days of adaptation at the Colisée;
    • 402 people on the production team;
    • Over 250 costumes;
    • 146 artists;
      • 76 artists from Quebec City;
      • 49 artists from the province of Quebec;
      • 21 foreign artists of 14 different nationalities;
    • 70 tons of sand;
    • 30 trapezes;
    • 22 circus disciplines deployed in 16 tableaux;
    • 12 children;
    • 11 percussionists;
    • Five days of setting up at the Colisée;
    • Five performances that were seen by over 70,000 spectators.

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     Jean-François Bouchard     Creation Director
     Michel Laprise             Director
     Richard Lacroix            Set Designer
     Jacques Boucher            Sound Designer
     Lucien Bernèche            Costume Designer
     Alain Vinet                Music Director
     Marc Lessard               Music Arrangement
     Guy Dubuc                  Band Leader
     Martin Labrecque           Lighting Designer
     Jimmy Lakatos              Géodezik / Video Designer
     Mathieu St-Arnaud          Géodezik / Video Designer
     Raymond St-Jean            Géodezik / Video Designer
     Olivier Goulet             Géodezik / Video Designer
     Nathalie Gagné             Make-up Designer
     Jean Savoie                Props Designer
     André Simard               Acrobatic Performance Designer
     Danny Zen                  Acrobatic Equipment & Rigging
     Guy Beauregard             Sand Designer
     Paul Vachon                (l’Aubergine)/Audience Interaction
     Stéphane Boko              Choreographer
     Catherine Archambault      Choreographer – Trampoline
     Elsie Morin                Choreographer – Cyr Wheel
     Cinthia Beranek            Choreographer – Hoops
     Jean-Jacques Pillet        Choreographer – Pas de quatre
     Shana Caroll               Choreographer – Trapeze

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