Discovering the Magic of Theater Arts: Cirque du Soleil

In the past few months, we’ve had the wonderful opportunity to see two Cirque du Soleil performances that captivated not only our hearts but also our imaginations.

We were fortunate to catch Corteo while we were staying in Lima, Peru in October. Corteo, which means “cortege” in Italian, is a joyous procession, a festive parade imagined by a clown. The show brings together the passion of the actor with the grace and power of the acrobat to plunge the audience into a theatrical world of fun, comedy and spontaneity situated in a mysterious space between heaven and earth.

Corteo was a great introduction to the magic and theater arts of the popular Cirque du Soleil.  When we returned home and reflected on our trip, the kids stated that seeing Corteo was one of their most memorable moments.

cirquedusoleilIntrigued, my son began watching behind the scene documentaries and shared that he’d love to see another performance. When we had the opportunity to accompany Patrick on a business trip to Las Vegas, we selected Kà. Together my husband and I had previously seen O and Zumanity; he had also seen Kà. “The effects on stage of both O and Kà were mind blowing,” he stated. I was curious to compare the two.

These experiences provide entertainment surely, but I have also found that they have helped in creative writing assignments and art. For students interested in theater arts, dance, music, and even engineering, I highly recommend seeing a performance.

History of Cirque du Soleil

In the early 1980’s in Baie-Saint-Paul, a charming village nestled on the north shore of the St-Lawrence River, east of Quebec City, a theater troupe emerged. The performers walked on stilts, juggled, danced, breathed fire, and played music. Among these young entertainers was Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté.

During the 450th anniversary celebration of Jacques Cartier’s discovery of Canada in 1984, the province of Quebec sought an event which would bring the festivities to all Quebecers. Guy Laliberté convinced organisers the answer was a provincial tour of Cirque du Soleil performers. With resounding popularity and public acclaim, the Cirque du Soleil performers have not stopped touring and sharing their artistry.

To raise money, Laliberte convinced his partner, Mr Ste-Croix, to walk 56 miles in stilts.

 Global Citizenship

Ever since Cirque du Soleil began performing around the world, it chose to become involved in communities, particularly troubled youths. Concerned with the future, Cirque du Soleil turned its attention and resources to global issues, such as the fight against poverty. Working together with valued partners, Cirque du Soleil is making a difference in nearly 80 communities, in over 20 countries on five continents.

CorteoCirque du Soleil‘s citizenship principles are founded on the conviction that the arts, business and social initiatives can, together, contribute to making a better world. Cirque du Soleil utilizes a sustainable development approach. It furthermore treats its employees, partners, customers and neighbors with respect, as it does the environment, laws and cultures of every place it goes.

Cirque du Soleil strives to be a responsible agent of change and a citizen of choice with a view to sustainable development. For the beach scene in , for example, the sand is created using 350 cubic feet of granular cork from Portugal.

Bring it Home

For students interested in music, like my son, consider researching the instrumentation of a specific Cirque du Soleil show. For example, the unique string instrument heard in the soundtrack of O is an erhu, a traditional Chinese bowed string instrument.

KaMy daughter has developed a growing passion for art. While we were in Las Vegas, we enjoyed visiting the Art Gallery of Richard MacDonald. It reminded us of one of our favorite artists, Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland.

His work focuses on the spectrum of performing life, capturing a fleeting moment in time and immortalizing the grace, strength, joy and discipline of dancers and acrobats.

Engineering minded students may be interested in learning about the contraptions behind the scenes. Hanging 49 feet above the stage, the carousel and conveyor system in O carries tons of equipment as well as performers during the show.  Additionally, the carousel horses have a small propeller underneath their tails that are controlled by a joystick located on the back of the horse.

OOther students may be fascinated by the elaborate costumes. To create the 131 costumes for the 41 characters in Corteo, Designer Dominique Lemieux wanted to accentuate the artists’ natural beauty. She used some 900 different fabrics, including natural fibers such as silk, linen, cotton and lace.

Cirque du Soleil On Demand

While not everyone may be able to attend a live performance, Cirque du Soleil televevision specials and documentaries are available in North America, On-Demand through your local cable operator, as well as through a variety of online platforms including iTunes and Hulu.

About Eva Varga

Eva is passionate about education. She has extensive experience in both formal and informal settings. She presently homeschools her two young children, teaches professional development courses through the Heritage Institute, and writes a middle level secular science curriculum called Science Logic. In addition to her work in education, she is an athlete, competing in Masters swimming events and marathons. In her spare time she enjoys reading, traveling, learning new languages, and above all spending time with her family. ♥

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