Issue #171: APR 2018

Welcome to the latest edition of Fascination, the Unofficial Cirque du Soleil Newsletter.

CIRQUE DU SOLEIL & VOLTA IN MOURNING

It is with immense sadness that Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group reports that a tragic accident occurred [on the evening of] March 17th during a performance of its show VOLTA, in Tampa, Florida. While he was performing the aerial straps number, long-time aerialist, Yann Arnaud, fell onto the stage. Emergency procedures were immediately activated and Yann was transported to the nearest hospital, where he later passed away from his injuries. “The entire Cirque du Soleil family is in shock and devastated by this tragedy. Yann had been with us for over 15 years and was loved by all who had the chance to know him. Over the coming days and weeks, our focus will be on supporting Yann’s family and our employees, especially the VOLTA team, as we go through these difficult times together”, said Daniel Lamarre, President and CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group. Cirque du Soleil is currently gathering more information about this tragedy and is offering their full support and transparent collaboration to the authorities as they look into the circumstances of this accident. VOLTA is currently in hiatus and at press time there’s been no word on the cause of the accident.

CIRQUE IN SAUDI ARABIA

Saudi Arabia is embracing Hollywood with open arms, notching deals with live theater producer Cirque du Soleil and the world’s largest exhibitor AMC Theaters, as its Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman courts investments in the reforming oil-rich nation. Its entertainment agency, the General Entertainment Authority, on April 4th announced a new Cirque du Soleil show in Saudi Arabia, plus partnerships with touring company Feld Entertainment, National Geographic Encounter experiences and festival promoter IMG Artists. The Cirque du Soleil contract will see the Montreal, Canada-based company create a new production designed for a one-time performance on Saudi Arabia’s National Day on Sunday, September 23rd. It will be the first Cirque du Soleil show in the Gulf nation. “We’ll have 150 artists onstage, our largest cast ever,” said Jonathan Tetrault, COO of Cirque du Soleil. “The right conditions are now in place for us to perform for a mixed cast and a mixed audience.” The performance, performed live for the Prince, will also be broadcast on Saudi Television.

A SHOW… WITH HORSES?!

Now here’s an interesting development that as far as we know is NOT an April Fool’s joke: “Darren Michael Charles has been named creative artistic director and choreographer for a breathtaking new Cirque du Soleil spectacular that will being touring in six months’ time,” according to the Grimsby Telegraph. “Darren’s vast experience will stand in good stead as he will be directing large acrobatic and gymnastic acts, contortionists, clowns, aerial flying acts, dancing and juggling, and… horses!” HORSES?! IN A CIRQUE DU SOLEIL SHOW?! That’s what’s being reported but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Darren is gifted with horses, having gained experience with many other prestigious dance and touring companies, going on to direct and choreograph the hugely successful Cavalia’s Odysseo North American Tour, but whether he – and this type of show – is a good fit for the Cirque du Soleil Entertainment empire is not yet known. Cirque du Soleil has long prided itself on being a circus showcasing human strengths without resulting to animal exploitation, but if this news article is true, it looks as if the tides have finally turned. It should be noted Gilles Ste-Croix tried his hand at an equestrian show – Cheval Théâtre – which featured 30 horses and as many artist-acrobats under canvas that toured throughout in North America in 2002-2003 to some success, so the idea might work again. “Once we’re ready we will tour Europe and Asia, I’m really looking forward to it,” said Darren.

CELEBRATE PROJECT IS NO MORE

The Celebrate Project was introduced to the world on November 12, 2014, when both Cirque du Soleil and Grupo Vidanta announced its plans to construct and operate a first-of-its-kind immersive theme park and resort experience in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. “Grupo Vidanta is offering us an amazing sandbox in which we can unleash our creativity,” said Guy Laliberté at the time. “Both our groups strive for perfection. Grupo Vidanta is passionate and cares for the environment. We set ourselves the challenge of creating something unlike anything the world has seen before.” The entertainment experience, which has been under development since then – and delayed on more than one occasion (it was originally scheduled to make its debut in 2018, then 2019, and lastly 2020 before the split) – would include a water park, a nature park, as well as an evening show accommodating as many as 3,000 to 5,000 spectators – in addition to three themed hotel-resorts and another JOYA-style dinner show. Each experience within the entertainment park would be animated by Cirque and follow a common storyline. What happened? Besides the problems that befell The Goddard Group (the designers) following the Gary Goddard scandal in late 2017, and the aforementioned construction delays since the project’s announcement, it seems that Grupo Vidanta became fed up with a lack of support from Cirque du Soleil in recent months. So they parted ways. The project is still going to be built – Vidanta has rebranded the effort “The Parks” (read more about it here (https://www.vidanta.com/web/nuevo-vallarta/the-parks) – it just won’t contain any of that Cirque du Soleil magic we’d been looking forward to getting. However, it will still have a touch of that ‘ol Guy Laliberté magic, as Lune Rouge – Guy’s new company – has picked up the development slack on the project.

ONE DROP REACHES GOAL EARLY!

Marking World Water Day, ONE DROP, the international foundation created by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté to bring safe water access to people across the globe, is proud to report that its signature fund-raising event, One Night for One Drop imagined by Cirque du Soleil, has surpassed the $35 million goal it set for itself when the event inaugurated in 2013. Presented by MGM Resorts International, the sixth edition of One Night for One Drop was held on Friday, March 2, when some of the biggest names in entertainment came together inside the Michael Jackson ONE Theatre at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, for this year’s one-night-only production inspired by the life of GRAMMY-nominated singer-songwriter Jewel. The sold-out performance and its gala celebration catapulted One Drop past its original fundraising goal. In celebration of World Water Day, One Drop is launching a charity auction where you can bid on Jewel’s exclusive guitar she played during One Night for One Drop 2018. Go here (https://bit.ly/2p9B1xA) for more information. All proceeds benefit One Drop’s global water efforts, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Las Vegas Community.

IN THE ISSUE

The bulk of our work looking back at classic show critiques is behind us now – we’re in the home stretch. There’s just two more shows to go! With that in mind we take a look at classic reviews of Dralion – the first in a long stretch of shows that did not have Dragone and his team at the helm. Guy Caron, Dralion’s Director, said this of his show: “It’s a celebration of life; I’m going to show around my happiness to be alive!” Dralion certainly ushered in a new era for Cirque du Soleil… see what the press thought of Dralion as it originally made its way across the North American continent. Additionally, back in January, Lighting & Sound America went behind-the-scenes at VOLTA to see what made it tick… technically. In part one (this issue) go behind-the-curtain to explore some the design elements that went into the show’s set, stage, and more. In Part Two (next issue), we’ll conclude with two very important parts of a show’s scenography: the lighting and sound design.

Before we go, though, we want to wish Amaluna a happy anniversary. They celebrated their 2,000th performance on March 22nd. HOORAY!

Okay, so let’s go!

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