Cirque du Soleil, [Fr., = circus of the sun], innovative Canadian circus, est. 1984, with headquarters in Montreal. The best-known exemplar of cirque nouveau, Cirque du Soleil is a mixture of spectacle, music, and dance and, unlike traditional circuses, does not include animals. Performed in one ring and exotically titled (e.g., Saltimbanco, Quidam, Varekai ), each Cirque du Soleil production centers around a unique theme and features spectacular theatrical effects by performers that are masters of clowning, stilt-walking, trapeze and other acrobatics, juggling, contortionism, mime, and other traditional circus arts.
Founded by onetime busker Guy Laliberté, the circus began touring in 1985 and has grown into a multimillion-dollar entertainment empire. In 1993 the company premiered its first Las Vegas show; another show is regularly presented at Walt Disney World in Florida. By the early 21st cent. Cirque du Soleil was presenting more than a dozen touring shows simultaneously worldwide.
See T. Babinski and K. Manchester, Cirque du Soleil (2004); M. Schreiber, Dreams of the Solo Trapeze (2005).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.