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74th Oscars
84th Oscars


A special live event at The Academy Awards!

The first Oscar Night was a special one for the fans. For five minutes on March 24, 2002, Cirque du Soleil was the focus of the 74th Academy Awards. It took Cirque four months to create the special show, which featured eleven acts from some of their most popular productions - Dralion, La Nouba, Quidam, Mystère, "O", and Alegría - set to the electro-urban sound of the La Nouba soundtrack. It was an amazing success for the company in terms of publicity (their website visitation numbers went through the roof immediately following the broadcast), and for fans who were over-joyed at the audience's reaction.

Cirque du Soleil would return to the Academy Awards exactly 10 years later with a second production for the broadcast. The one-time-only event featured the largest Cirque cast ever assembled for a single act. More than 50 international artists from Cirque du Soleil productions around the world converged in Los Angeles to bring the dynamic showcase to life. The act featured aerialists, Icarian acrobats, hand balancers, dancers and characters from IRIS, A Journey through the World of Cinema, along with the 15-member Banquine team from Viva ELVIS in Las Vegas, and a hand balancer from Zarkana, direct from Moscow’s Kremlin State Palace Theatre. The act was accompanied by music from Academy Award-nominated composer Danny Elfman, who scored the music for Cirque du Soleil's IRIS.

Premiere: March 24, 2002
February 26, 2012
Type: Special Event
Status: One-Time Show
Academy Awards

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    How did this special performance come to be? Laura Ziskin, producer of the Academy Awards show, has long been intrigued by the Cirque, Lynn Heward, Cirque's CEO of artistic content, said. She contacted the troupe in November with a performance idea and the company was intrigued. "The number of spectators is a bit stressful," Lyn Heward said. "We take risks in all of our shows but this is a one-shot deal. It has to be perfect." The content of the performance was a closely guarded secret, even the 31-artist troupe didn't know who the other performers at the gala were until dress rehearsal the Saturday before.

    Videos were taken of 12 acts in five Cirque shows being performed in North America, including La Nouba in Orlando, Quidam in Miami and "O" in Las Vegas. The acts were then cut and pasted into a master tape, and that tape was sent to each of the artists, allowing them to work on their part in the final product no matter where they were stationed. It was only the week of the performance that all 31 artists, 10 riggers who manage the aerials, and various costumers and musicians gathered in Orlando to rehearse together before flying to Los Angeles for the show.

    The unusual training via videotape seems to have paid off, Heward said. "Our chief choreographer, Debra Brown, was ecstatic. She was able to block out the act in just one day," Heward said. "We've never had such superb cooperation. No one artist is a star in this performance. Everyone gets their 10 to 15 minutes of stardom," Heward said.

    The Artists

    • Hoops (Quidam)
      • Featuring: Elena Lev

    • German Wheel (Quidam)
      • Featuring: Chris Lashua

    • Spanish Webs (Quidam)
      • Featuring: Natalia Pestova, Mireille Goyette, Jonathan Morin

    • Banquine (Quidam)
      • Featuring - Konstantin Besstchetnyi, Marina Boutina, Elena Kolesnikova, Alexandre Leontiev, Alexandre Maiorov, Serguei Okhai, Dmitri Koukva, Alexandre Pestov, Vladimir Fomine, Roman Polishchuk, Svetlana Souvorova, Igor Strijanov, Alexandre Zaitsev, and Konstantin Zakharenko.

    • Comet Character («O»)
      • Featuring: Colin Richard Follenweider

    • Bungees (Mystère)
      • Featuring: Irina Sorokina, Kelly Roberta Tucker, Kristin Wingfield and Maria Akhlatkina.

    • Flying Man in Silk (La Nouba)
      • Featuring: Yuri Maiorov

    • Fire («O»)
      • Featuring: Michael Abraham Brown

    • BMX (La Nouba)
      • Featuring: Chris Lashua

    • Lion Ball (Dralion)
      • Featuring: Xi Shuai

    • Trampoline Wall (La Nouba)
      • Featuring: Wellington Moura de Lima, Krystian Sawicki, and Nathan Patrick Henderson.

    The Images

      What made the performance by Cirque extra special is that their performances were tied to the images behind them. Cirque was, after all, presenting for special effects. Therefore, behind each of the performers and their respected acts were interesting special effects shots spanning the ages. A list of the images that appeared on the backdrop is as follows; in order of appearance:

    1. LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring
    2. The Invisible Man
    3. The Cell
    4. Metropolis
    5. 2001: A Space Odyssey
    6. Safety Last
    7. You Only Live Twice
    8. Charlie's Angels
    9. Mission to Mars
    10. The Empire Strikes Back
    11. Return of the Jedi
    12. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
    13. Superman
    14. Steamboat Bill, Jr.
    15. Royal Wedding
    16. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
    17. Mission: Impossible
    18. Raiders of the Lost Ark
    19. The Wizard of Oz
    20. Harry Potter: Sorcerer's Stone
    21. LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring
    22. Batman Returns
    23. Harry Potter: Sorcerer's Stone
    24. Backdraft
    25. Pearl Harbor
    26. The Cell
    27. The Matrix
    28. LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring
    29. Mission to Mars
    30. The Fifth Element
    31. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
    32. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
    33. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
    34. Harry Potter: Sorcerer's Stone
    35. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
    36. LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring
    37. A.I. Artificial Intelligence
    38. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
    39. Pearl Harbor
    40. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

    The Results

      When Cirque du Soleil accepted an offer to perform in producer Laura Ziskin's production of the 74th Annual Academy Awards, they called on Schwartzman & Associates expert knowledge to build a strategy, and put the public relations firm to work securing advance media opportunities. Their relationship resulted in impressive numbers: The 74th Annual Academy Awards were watched by 41 million people. Based on audited circulation figures and Nielsens, the cirque reached an additional 81 million people through print and electronic news media placements.

      • 25,210,382 Electronic Media Impressions
      • 55,674,930 Print Media Impressions
      • 80.9 Million Total U.S. Media Impressions, not including the world press and the following 24 Wire stories:
        • 2 - Agence France-Presse
        • 4 - AP Online
        • 5 - Associated Press Newswires
        • 1 - BPI Entertainment News Wire
        • 6 - Canada Newswire
        • 6 - Canada Press

    Event Pictures

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    Cirque du Soleil presented the performance as a tribute to the movie theatre experience incorporating signature Cirque acrobatic elements and imagery along with classic film clips. The act marked the second time Cirque du Soleil performed during an Academy Awards telecast. The troupe’s first appearance, at the 74th Academy Awards, sparked discussions about creating a permanent show at the theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center and resulted in the creation of IRIS.

    "What it did for our brand was amazing," Cirque's President and CEO Daniel Lamarre said "For us, the timing couldn't be better," Lamarre said. The week after the Oscars, "it helped our ticket sales worldwide. It was amazing." Production numbers have a way of backfiring at the Oscars, as Cirque remembers from a 2002 appearance that did not read well on television. This time, Lamarre says founder Guy Laliberte told him, "We're not going to take a chance." The four-minute number included 54 artists, including aerialists transported from the closed "Zed" show in Japan to "Viva Elvis."

    Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2011 were presented on Sunday, February 26, at the theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and televised live by the ABC Television Network as well as being televised live in more than 225 countries worldwide.

    Event Pictures

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