The billion dollar circus
As Cirque du Soleil limbers up for the European premiere of its latest show, Dralion, in London next week, David Lister [The Independent] goes to Las Vegas and Mexico City to meet some of the performers and directors behind this phenomenal French-Canadian success story
Seventeen years ago, Guy Laliberté, a 25-year-old Canadian fire-eater and stilt-walker, took a small band of street entertainers in a van from Quebec to the Los Angeles festival. It was high risk - the journey as much as the show. Had the fledgling Cirque du Soleil failed at the Los Angeles festival, there would not have been enough money for petrol to get back. Fortunately, the audiences loved it, and one entrepreneur offered Laliberté $1m for the ownership of his outfit. The fire-eater from Quebec refused. He had a passionate belief that his fusion of circus and theatre would not only win over the audiences; it could transform circus forever. No animals, no reliance on family acts, but an emphasis on costume, lighting, music and a storyline. There is no spoken narrative, though. These were to be shows that could be replicated anywhere in the world.more...