Issue #158: MAR 2017

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

It’s been quite an interesting month, wouldn’t you say? While fans in the United States celebrated the 11,000th performance of Mystere on February 21st (check out this video: https://goo.gl/7Tawqy), and fans in Argentina patiently waited for the March 9th debut of Soda Stereo Sép7imo Día – No Descansaré, fans of La Nouba, though, had something to be sad about…

LA NOUBA OFFICIALLY CLOSING DECEMBER 31, 2017

La Nouba to close seemed to be the rumor that just wouldn’t quit, wouldn’t it? Ever since the changes to Downtown Disney were announced (think Hyperion Wharf), there’ve been yearly rumors of La Nouba ending its run, with little movement either way. But over the last few weeks to months, there’d been more serious murmurs about the show closing, which as of Friday, March 3rd, became painfully real. The Walt Disney World Resort made the following announcement via the Parks Blog:

With over 8,500 performances to date, La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil has been a Disney Springs staple for nearly twenty years. Since its inception in late 1998, La Nouba has been seen by over 10 million guests and will continue to dazzle audiences with its breathtaking blend of daring acrobatics and dazzling choreography through 2017, with a final performance scheduled to take place on December 31st. With ten months to take in a show, you still have plenty of time to be mesmerized by the artistry of the talented La Nouba team. “We are incredibly proud of the success that La Nouba has had for nearly two decades,” said Jerry Nadal, Senior VP of the Resident Shows Division for Cirque du Soleil. “We want to thank Walt Disney World Resort for a wonderful relationship over the years. We look forward to announcing what’s next for Cirque du Soleil.”

I have mixed emotions about La Nouba closing. It’s through La Nouba I gained my first glimpse into the world of Cirque du Soleil, coming on a rather tiresome evening in May 1999. But from the very first moment the show began, I sat utterly enthralled. It was of little consequence that I was as far away from the stage as one could get. In that moment all that was relevant was the artistry and pageantry on display before me. For truly a door opened; two worlds collided. Dreams clashed with reality. The mundane mixed with the marvelous. I had truly entered the dominion of Cirque du Soleil, glowing with spellbinding intensity… a vibrant kaleidoscope of artistry and daring… a splash of iridescent genius. I now knew the color of imagination and I never looked back, (creating Le Grand Chapiteau, CirqueFAQ, Fascination! Newsletter, and being part of CirqueCon and CirqueCast, amongst many other projects), so to have La Nouba’s doors close after all that it has done for me is rather surreal. But I’m looking forward to what Disney and Cirque has in store for us next!

VOLTA RAISES ITS BIG TOP

Speaking of new things Cirque has in store for us: VOLTA’s new grand chapiteau was raised on March 1st and its colors are a bit different from what we fans accustomed to. And it’s caused quite a stir. While some just don’t like it because they don’t like it, others (like me) refer to brand identity as the reason for questioning the change. In the past it’s been very easy to identify a Cirque big top with just a glance: whether striped or swirled, they’ve always been (with one or two exceptions – European and Japanese tours notwithstanding) yellow and blue. Luzia’s big top was a surprise, as it marked the first time the big top featured patterns and colors related to the theme of the show within. [The patterns evoked the association between Cirque du Soleil (the sun) and Mexico (the word originates from Mtztli, meaning ‘moon,” and Xuctli, which means ‘middle’) and symbolized the meeting of two celestial bodies: the sun and the moon. A bird’s eye view reveals the path of the stars that spiral out from the centre of the Big Top – the symbolic meeting point between earth and sky, sacred and human.] Volta’s big top features a mostly white canvas with silver swirls, and there’s a reason for that according to a recent video of the raising: it’s light color helps reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Red Bull is a strategic partner with this show, as its theme is one of extreme sports, so what do you think about this change? And should we now expect new and differently designed big tops for each new touring show? [We’re hearing no, but you never know!] Check out the video here: https://goo.gl/WqKZTd

NEW DVDs COMING SOON!

Fans rejoiced when both Luzia and TORUK were filmed and then released for home consumption, and equally elated when KURIOS was filmed during its stop in Miami, but there’s one question everyone wants an answer to: when will KURIOS be released on DVD? Soon is the only answer. But that’s not the only DVD we have to look forward to – a documentary on the creation of Soda Stereo Sép7imo Día – No Descansaré is also due to be released, only this time we have a date: March 9th. Details to come whether or not the DVD will be available for purchase through Cirque’s online boutique, on-demand, via Amazon, or just on site. And if that wasn’t enough to whet your appetite, we also got word that La Nouba was recently re-filmed, but like the filming for Zarkana’s last performance in Las Vegas, ZED, ZAIA, Viva Elvis, and IRIS – this new recording is for employees only. DRAT!

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU RAN CIRQUE?

“Cirque du Soleil’s new owners are trying to turn a quirky circus into a strategically savvy business,” writes Michal Lev-Ram in a fantastic article looking into the business aspects of the new Cirque du Soleil (which we have in-print this month as a special from Fortune Magazine). And it’s no small juggling act, he goes on to say in his article. As a bit of an aperitif, check out this video from Fortune, which also looks at TPG’s investment into Cirque du Soleil: https://goo.gl/pE8w6R. Two passages from Daniel Lamarre immediately stand out from the video:

• “We’ve very serious and supportive about accelerating the pace of development of new shows. Obviously, there was some anxiety but it didn’t last long because the people in creation and production are totally fueled by new shows. And that within a very short period of time brought stability – emotionally – in the organization and now we’re at the stage where people get very much [elated] by the fact that we are accelerating the pace of the development of new content.” And…

• “We’re going to open up an NFL Experience in Times Square so you cannot talk of a better window for an artistic content provider to put together a new experience for a customer. So that experience in itself opens the door for Cirque du Soleil to a new category of experiences that we can develop moving forward in a lot of different sports in a lot of different cities…

Pretty interesting, no? I invite you to read this month’s special feature entitled “When An Investment Firm Buys a Circus” to learn more about TPG, their involvement with Cirque, and Cirque du Soleil’s future in business! (Including a Q&A with Cirque CEO Daniel Lamarre.) And speaking of business opportunities…

NFL EXPERIENCE TO DEBUT IN NOVEMBER 2017

Superbowl LI has come and gone with the New England Patriots crowned victor over the Atlanta Falcons, and although I’m not much of an American Football fan by any stretch of the imagination, when Cirque du Soleil became involved with the NFL I had to sit up and take notice. Following the Superbowl, the NFL asked its fans if they wished they could keep the adrenaline rush going after the season. “Your wish is about to come true,” they replied. “Beginning this November, there will be one place where you can experience the heart-pounding thrill of playing in the NFL, 365 days a year, in the heart of New York City.” What on Earth is the NFL talking about? Why, the previously mentioned NFL Experience by Cirque du Soleil of course! While many details about the partnership and the offerings at the experience have so far remained a mystery (read up on it here: https://goo.gl/KEEJpM), a few details about the upcoming experience have been released on their website (www.nflexperience.com), which I’ve outlined below:

• DISCOVER WHAT IT TAKES – Bring your adrenaline. Bring your passion. Bring your best game. Because beginning this fall, there’s a place to experience the heart-pounding thrill of playing in the NFL — 365 days a year in the center of NYC.

• FEEL THE RUSH – A state-of-the-art, 4-D cinema experience will take you from the stands to the field. Through exclusive footage, you will be transported from Kickoff in September through the Playoffs, and maybe, just maybe, make it to the Super Bowl.

• SUIT UP – No one said winning would be easy. Dive into an elite NFL training regimen, visit the locker room and get the game plan, and see how you measure up against the pros.

• TEST YOUR TALENTS – Learn the fundamentals of football, complete with timed, physical challenges that help hone your skills.

• EMERGE A CHAMPION – The road to The Big Game is paved with hard work, dedication, perseverance, and commitment. Get a photo with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, explore the Super Bowl rings, and take in the glory of victory.

It all sounds very sports-y, and not very Cirque-y, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Cirque du Soleil has named consumer attraction veteran Danny Boockvar to head up its NFL-themed 4D theater and permanent exhibit in Times Square. Read more about this appointment in our news section this month.

AND LAST, BUT NOT LEAST…

In early December, NETFLIX in North America began airing Luna Petunia, Cirque du Soleil’s first attempt at a specialty children’s animated program. And with our first child nearing 11 months old, my wife took quite an interest in watching and reviewing the show for us. You can read her fantastic review within!

To make an artist for one of Cirque’s productions, it takes a talented individual who is open to new experiences – and veterans who can guide the way through those new experiences. Cirque du Soleil has assembled some of the most well-known and respected collaborators in their fields – coaches, choreographers, creators, composers and others – to help artists achieve their goals. And through a series of interviews on their casting website, we meet some of them. Like the “Meet the Artist” series of Q&A’s we recently published, the “Meet a Mentor” set are equally fascinating reads – even more so! We’ve collected all 11 mentor interviews for you to peruse in this series, which, due to the page count, we’ll publish in three parts, beginning with Part One: André Simard (Acrobatic Research and Development), Bernard Petiot (Vice President, Casting and Performance), and Boris Verkhovsky (Director of Acrobatics and Coaching). So be sure to check that out as well!

And, of course, we’ve got our monthly look at Paramour’s earnings. Don’t forget – their last show is Sunday, April 16th!

Week      This Week	 Potential   Difference    Seats   % Cap
Ending      Gross         Grosses    in Dollars    Sold	 
------------------------------------------------------------------
01-Jan  $1,908,018.00  $1,805,456.00  $807,246.95  15,125  99.72%
08-Jan  $1,218,860.80  $1,805,456.00 -$689,158.15  14,491  95.54%
15-Jan    $999,968.70  $1,544,604.00 -$218,892.10  11,683  88.03%
22-Jan    $903,287.95  $1,805,456.00  -$96,680.75  11,528  76.00%
29-Jan    $935,804.25  $1,805,456.00   $32,516.30  12,257  80.81%
05-Feb    $662,145.25  $1,515,054.00 -$273,659.00   9,107  68.62%
12-Feb    $667,758.25  $1,515,054.00    $5,613.00   8,692  65.49%
19-Feb  $1,119,906.75  $1,748,376.00  $452,148.50  13,691  90.26%
26-Feb    $878,719.75  $1,544,604.00 -$241,187.00  11,239  84.68%

Well, that’s all I have time for this month. Let’s get to the rest!

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