Grande-Bretagne

Cirque du Soleil - Conquering the world and beyond

On the eve of Cirque du Soleil’s 25th anniversary, INFO met Gaétan Morency, Vice
President of the renowned entertainment company’s Global Citizenship Service, to hear the fascinating story of how Cirque entertains (and helps heal) the world.

On the eve of Cirque du Soleil’s 25th anniversary, INFO met Gaétan Morency, Vice President of the renowned entertainment company’s Global Citizenship Service, to hear the fascinating story of how Cirque entertains (and helps heal) the world.

Many organisations profess to have a global reach, but with Cirque du Soleil, such claims are extremely convincing. The famous enter tainment company is not only the biggest of its kind in the world, its ambitions stretch even beyond the globe.

The founding father of Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberté, recently blasted off into space. In September, the former street performer, who began his career as a daredevil fire-eater on the streets of French Canada, joined an expedition to the International Space Station, from which, at precisely zero gravity, he looked down on our blue planet as a “space tourist”.

‘In our DNA’ It is the kind of vacation you would expect from a man who, via the “circus of the sun”, has already conquered Earth. Founded in 1984, Cirque operates in 20 countries and packs in over 15 million spectators per year. Between them, its 4,500 employees from 42 different countries speak 25 languages.

But the company, which recently became a member of the French Chamber of Commerce, is not just global in terms of its workforce, according to Gaétan Morency, Vice President of its Global Citizenship Service. “In companies the world over, corporate social responsibility is catching on because of public pressure,” Morency explains, “but with Cirque, it was something that was in our genetic code from the start. Touring under a big top is not like touring in an arena. You come and build a venue in a city and must have all kinds of permits.

<img372|left> “Our sites are 20,000 square metres in size. We rent them, do what we have to do, and return them in their original state to the owner. If we have to use asphalt to flatten the site, we use asphalt, then remove it and give the area back.

“We serve 400 meals a day, so we buy food locally wherever we operate. We hire 150 people in each city we go to. That means engaging with the community.” Morency helps manage long-running philanthropic projects including Youth at Risk, a “social circus” programme that helps deprived street kids build “selfesteem and solidarity” through a range of creative classes and workshops.

‘Not a bubble’ “Street performers created Cirque 25 years ago,” says Morency as he sits in the garden of the Kensington Hotel where he is staying on his latest visit to London. “In contrast to music, theatre, ballet and opera, where artists are living in a temple and inviting the public to their temple, street performers go into communities in public places.

“They don’t have a captive audience, so they have to get interested in the community, so that they get the community interested in what they are doing. That’s the environment in which street performers work.” Morency says he respects artists who practice more mainstream art forms but claims they often “live in bubbles”. Circus entertainment, in contrast, is by nature earthier, more democratic, more immediate, possessing some of the mystique that the travelling bands of clowns, jugglers and lion tamers lived off as they toured countries as part of the “greatest shows on earth” so popular in days of yore.

Cirque du Soleil does not use animals, but it scours the world for the best acrobats, gymnasts and costume designers in the business. Cirque scouts attend the major drama festivals and the Olympics and source performers from the best circus classes the world over.

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<img373|left> Un article issu de INFO Magazine, Octobre/Novembre 2009
une publication de la Chambre de commerce et d’industrie française en Grande Bretagne

Hannah Meloul, Editorial Assistant, INFO Magazine
Tel : +44 207 092 66 48
Site : www.ccfgb.co.uk - @ : [hmeloul@ccfgb.co.uk->hmeloul@ccfgb.co.uk]

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