We love them. Perhaps you do too. If you haven’t been to one of their many touring or resident shows, we’ll share what they’re about and mention some of the many we’ve seen and why you might like to take one in. FYI, the touring shows go to Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and North and South America so it doesn’t matter where you live—you should be able to see one without too much difficulty. They have gone to Africa, but not many times. The only continent they haven’t been to—so far as we know, is Antarctica.
Cirque du Soleil began in 1984. Watch their own birthday video below to see how things have changed over 33 years.
So far, we have been to seven touring shows and one resident show. We plan on seeing some of the resident shows in Las Vegas this year or next. Some touring shows appear under a big-top that they set up in cities they go to—even large metropolitan areas like Washington, DC. In other cities they appear in arenas. The shows look just as good, but we prefer the big-top over arenas.
How many shows are there? Too many to list here! But we’ll give you a link to their website that tells you more about every show. The most resident shows are in Las Vegas, SEVEN (including a few special ones that are atypical—the tribute to Michael Jackson, ONE; the Beatles, LOVE; and Criss Angel’s magic show, MIIND Freak; and then there’s the adults only (hey, it’s Vegas) ZUMANITY, where costumes are skimpy (at best). They also have resident shows in New York City, Orlando and Riviera Maya in Mexico. There are TEN shows touring, currently.
What makes Cirque du Soleil (Circus of the Sun, for those whose native language is not French) different from other circuses? NO animals—it’s all people. There are clowns, of sorts. There are lots of very talented acrobats—some performing feats you won’t see anywhere else, while wearing beautiful and unique costumes as well. Great music too. You might consider Cirque du Soleil something like a pastiche of gymnastics, Broadway shows and opera—but light on the Italian. Although some of the lyrics may be in Italian or Spanish, much of them are in an invented language—so if you have trouble recognizing them, that’s why. Other than Zumanity, children can attend the shows, but younger ones may be less thrilled than watching more traditional children’s fare.
If a picture tells a thousand words, a video must tell a 100 thousand. So rather than try and describe them, we’ll add a four minute video of Alegria, our first Cirque do Soleil show, uploaded to YouTube by the company itself. Alegria has now been retired, by the way.
All the shows have these things in common:
- Great music
- Great performances
- Great costumes
Typically there will be:
- Jugglers of outstanding talent
- Some type of aerial performance—high wires, trapezes, silken clothes descending from the ceiling which people will swing on, twist and turn, etc.
- Contortionists (always young females—six to late teens at the oldest)
- Amazing balancing acts
- Clown acts of two-three performers—with a mix of slapstick and sophistication, often adding in some audience participation
- Displays of beauty, strength and motion combined in unbelievable ways
- Varying special skill performances—moving within rings, flying hither and yon from catapult devices, trampoline tumbling exceptional heights
Finally, some shows will feature exceedingly dangerous performances, ones that by their nature cannot make use of safety wires fastened to waists. That includes the Wheel of Death, which is employed in Kooza (one of our favorites). Here’s a clip of that incredibly insane performance that looks far scarier in person at a performance. One performer fell from such a wheel during a performance of Zarkana—another retired show. He survived but did suffer injuries.
We have seen many since and will continue seeing them whenever we can. Shows by the Cirque are modified, come and go and eventually retired. But new ones are created to replace them. Corteo (we saw it in under a big-top in Washington, DC), was retired as a big-top only show in 2015 but will be returning in 2018 as an arena show. Dralion (we saw it at an arena at UTEP in El Paso)—a fusion of East and West circuses, retired in 2015 after a 15 year run. La Nouba, (resident at Walt Disney World in Orlando) is the second show we saw. It’s still one of our favorites. Its run ends in December 2017 but is likely to be replaced by another Cirque show—as yet unnamed.
So if you haven’t been to one of their shows, go. Get as close as you can afford to get the most from the experience. Special events like anniversaries, birthdays, etc. are worth a little more, are they not? Oh, and you can get interest souvenirs too—like ties, hats, jackets, etc. I don’t need neckties anymore, but I have some from Cirque. Also a fools hat, bells and all. You can even buy videos of entire shows as well. If you didn’t get the best seat at a live performance, the video will provide it to you for later enjoyment.