Take an exclusive tour of Cirque du Soleil headquarters in Montreal

ByWendy Daughenbaugh WPVI logo
Tuesday, September 12, 2023
Take an exclusive tour of Cirque du Soleil headquarters in Montreal
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The folks from Cirque du Soleil gave us an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour so we can show you what goes into producing the show.

MONTREAL (WPVI) -- Cirque du Soleil is coming to Philadelphia in late September.

And while anyone can go see the circus artists performing their amazing tricks, very few get a chance to see where and how the magic is made.

So when the folks from Cirque offered to fly us up to Montreal for an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour, we jumped at the chance.

Every Cirque du Soleil show starts at the international headquarters in Montreal, where a team of creatives takes an idea or even just an emotion and transforms it into a full-blown production.

It's essentially a little city with everything from lawyers to makeup artists and an entire wing devoted to L'Ateliere, a series of artist workshops that make up Cirque's costume department.

There are several studios where performers rigorously train to perfect tricks to wow the crowd.

On the teeterboard, for example, the landing spot for the performers launching into the air, flipping and spinning, is just about one foot by foot so every landing must be perfect.

Cirque du Soleil is now the largest contemporary circus producer in the world with a trophy case filled with prestigious awards.

It's a big jump from the troupe's humble start in 1984 with two street performers, Guy Laliberté and Gilles Ste-Croix, who dreamed of reinventing the circus-with outrageous costumes, original music and no animals.

Montreal's popular old town (Vieux Montreal) is where Cirque launches nearly every new show.

But the headquarters opened in 1997 in the city's Saint-Michel district, on the site of an old quarry and landfill.

It's one of the poorest neighborhoods in North America, says Cirque language specialist Sandy Gonalves. When Cirque came here, there was virtually nothing. Now, there are fruit and vegetables gardens, a public park and outdoor sculptures.

The performers come from all over the world. They speak English in practice and on tour but French is the official language for the back-office creative teams.

Seventy percent of the costumes you see onstage are made in-house, from head to toe.

Costumes can take as many as 400 hours to create and the designers can transform just about any material into anything.

Cirque du Soleil is currently staging nine shows around the world.

Bazzar is the show coming to the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks for nearly four weeks starting September 26th.

It launched in Mumbai in 2018, and this will be its first time in the States.

There are 35 performers and 12 acts, starting with the teeterboard.

You'll see the duo trapeze too and an ancient Indian sport called Mallakhamb that is appearing for the first time ever in a Cirque show.

It involves an athlete holding poses on a pole that require an incredible amount of strength, balance and flexibility.

The main character is a clown dubbed the Maestro, and the entire show is an homage to Cirque's street performer beginnings.

Cirque du Soleil Bazzar | Website |

Under the Big Top, Greater Philadelphia Expo Center

100 Station Ave, Oaks, Pa. 19456

Sept. 26-Oct. 22nd