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The Tortoise

The Concept
Creative Team
Scenes / Acts


A Celebration of the Ottoman Empire

In the summer of 2014, Cirque du Soleil would be contracted to stage a theatrical production at the Rios Stargate Hotel in Antalya, Türkiye. With the help of 29 people, this 40-show production, prepared by Cirque du Soleil's choreographer Jacques Marcotte, gains its inspiration from Osam Hamdi Bey's painting and story of "The Tortoise Trainer".

Dates: July 8 - August 21, 2014
Type: Theater Show
Location: Rixos Sungate

[ The Concept | Creative Team | Acts ]

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    Osman Hamdi Bey was an Ottoman administrator, intellectual, art expert, and a prominent and pioneering painter. He was also an accomplished archaeologist, and is regarded as the pioneer of the museum curator's profession in Turkey. He was the founder of Istanbul Archaeology Museums and of the Istanbul Academy of Fine Arts (Sanayi-i Nefise Mektebi in Turkish), known today as the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University. He was also the first mayor of Kadiköy.

    Osman Hamdi went to primary school in the popular Istanbul quarter of Besiktas; after which he studied Law, first in Istanbul (1856) and then in Paris (1860). However, he decided to pursue his interest in painting instead, left the Law program, and trained under French orientalist painters Jean-Léon Gérôme and Gustave Boulanger. During his nine-year stay in Paris, the international capital of fine arts at the time, he showed a keen interest for the artistic events of his day. Osman Hamdi exhibited three paintings at the 1867 Paris Exposition Universelle. None seem to have survived today, An important step in his career was his assignment as the director of the Imperial Museum (Müze-i Hümayun) in 1881. Throughout his professional career as museum and academy director, Osman Hamdi continued to paint in the style of his teachers, Gérôme and Boulanger.

    In 1906, Hamdi would go on to pain The Tortoise Trainer. This painting of an anachronistic historical character attempting to train tortoises is usually interpreted as a satire on the slow and ineffective attempts at reforming the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire, for those who may need a history refresher, was an empire that controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries. It was founded at the end of the 13th century in northwestern Anatolia by the Turkoman tribal leader Osman I. After 1354, the Ottomans crossed into Europe and, with the conquest of the Balkans, the Ottoman empire was effectively born. The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the conequest of Constantinopole in 1453. The advent of World War I - and its aftermath - would eventually do the Ottoman Empire in.

    Cirque du Soleil used the story of the paining as inspiration for the show's costuming and other thematical elements.

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    Creative Team

    • Show Director — Jacques Marcotte
    • Acrobatic Coach — Emillien Therrien

    Acts / Music

    • Opening — "L'Innocent" (from KOOZA)
    • Solo Trapeze — "16-Papillon" (from KOOZA)
    • Duo Dance — "Don't Be Afraid" (from KOOZA)
    • Juggling — "Alambre Alto" (from KOOZA)
    • Duo Roller Skates — "Terre Mère (from TOTEM)
    • Interlude — "Imposteur" (from KOOZA)
    • Banquine — "Junoon" (from KOOZA)
    • Finale — "Hum Jaisa Da Nekha" (from KOOZA)

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