Like all things in life, things change and adapt as needed. The same can be said about the circus. Traditionally thought of as a big top tent with huge red and white stripes, it was where you went to see lions, tigers, bears, and elephants do amazing feats with their human handlers. A lions would open its mouth, and the trainer would put his head in. It was dangerous. It was exciting. It made little children hide their heads in their parents’ laps. But those days are behind us. But we now have the immensely popular Cirque du Soleil.
Created in 1984 by Guy Laliberté, Cirque du Soleil is the bold visionary idea of recognizing and cultivating the talents of the street performers from Fête foraine de Baie-Saint-Paul, and turning the troupe into the international sensation it is today. With multiple shows going all over the world, Cirque has captivated audiences with its amazing feats of athleticism, and ability to showcase the amazing things the human body is capable of doing.
After spell binding Twin City audiences last year with KOOZA, Cirque is back with its newly transformed classic, Alegria, which stunned audiences for the first time in 1994.
Assistant Artistic Director Sheryl-Lynne Valensky, who recently spoke with Lavender about the show, says, “Alegria has been around for 15 years. It was a big top show, and we’ve gone to every city we could with it. It has been immensely popular, and we loved it, and didn’t want to retire it, so we thought about how we could continue with it.”
Taking a show that was created for the big top, and transforming it to work inside a prebuilt arena, was no easy task. Just ask anyone who ever had to do something massive and time-consuming in half the time.
Valensky explains, “The stage takes a long time to put up and take down on big top shows. That’s part of the reason why we needed so much time in each city. To make it into an arena show, we went to people who build stages for rock concerts, because they know how to build them to be put up fast, and be taken down just as quick. So, we said, ‘We already have the stage. Here it is. Now, we need you to figure out how to create it, so that it can be put taken down and put up quickly.’ The old adage is that with enough money and time, anything is possible.”
And with that, it is now possible for millions of people around the world to see a show they would not have been able to attend without traveling to a much larger city.
With a cast of 55 performers, both new and seasoned, the more-than-two-hour spectacle showcases breathtaking acrobatics and synchronized choreography that will continue to delight audience for years to come. Those who have seen Cirque in the big top needn’t fret—the show hasn’t lost any of its amazing and intimate aspects.
According to Valensky, “The arena show is actually very intimate. The first row of the audience is only two feet away from the stage.”
Anyone who has seen a Cirque performance may find it hard not to wonder how the performers are able to do such physically demanding feats night after night for weeks at a time. But the company is more concerned with keeping morale up than worrying about injuries.
Valensky points out that performers come up with their own routines for keeping their bodies healthy and in shape, adding, “For us, we’re more concerned with them getting sick. Everyone gets sick. We do what we can to keep them happy. We try our best to accommodate their needs, and give them what they need.”
For those who never have experienced a Cirque du Soleil show, now is the chance to see the popular classic Alegria. Discover how a bold visionary idea that started 26 years ago has grown into an international sensation wowing fans across the globe time and again.