Cirque du Soleil (French for "Circus of the Sun") is an entertainment empire
based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and founded in Quebec in 1984 by two former
street performers, Guy Laliberté and Daniel Gauthier. It was an answer to a
call by Commissariat général aux célébrations 1534–1984 of the Quebec
Government for the 450th anniversary celebration of the arrival of French
explorer Jacques Cartier (1491–1557) to Canada. Gauthier, who left the company
in 2001, now owns the ski area Le Massif, on the St. Lawrence River in Quebec.
Cirque du Soleil is now "guided" by Laliberté.
It has been described as the modern circus, and focuses upon a storyline as
well as amazing performances. It has several resident and touring troupes and
draws heavily from the circus tradition. Emphasizing the use of humans as
performers, Cirque du Soleil does not make use of animals. Instead, its
performances combine elements of street performances and busking, circus,
opera, ballet, and rock music. Acts include contortionists, jugglers, feats
of strength, clowning, and trapeze artists. Their costumes are very colorful.
Cirque shows traditionally do not use pre-recorded music; with some exceptions
all music is played live, and in many performances the spoken parts are done
in Cirquish, an imaginary language invented by the company.