Issue #159: APR 2017

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

VOLTA PRESS CONFERENCE

On Tuesday, April 4th, Cirque du Soleil unveiled a bit of VOLTA to the press, holding the show’s press conference in the new big top on the quays of the Old Port of Montreal, but doing so in an interesting way: via Instagram. Much of their initial presentation is no longer available, but a number of enterprising attendees put up videos and pictures from the event on their Instagram pages, which you can check out here:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BSd8yVoBAaC/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BSd927fFM8c/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BSd-HwflWF5/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BSd-WC_B86h/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BSd_ADnl_GD/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BSd_I28FY5e/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BSd9D85FatU/

A few even put together montage videos on YouTube, like this one (https://youtu.be/qUC6Qr-asak) from Cirque Vault. Even Cirque du Soleil got into the act (no pun intended), releasing a video of their own, which you can find here (https://goo.gl/7EEDBC). And there’s already been one article about the press conference, from Brendan Kelly of the Montreal Gazette. He calls VOLTA the “next generation Cirque du Soleil.” Here’s what else he had to say:

The latest Cirque show was created by Bastien Alexandre and Jean Guibert. At the press preview of the show Tuesday morning, Jean-François Bouchard — head of the creative department at the Cirque du Soleil — described the duo as “deux jeunes du Cirque” (two young people from the Cirque). But in an interview after the preview, Alexandre, the show’s writer-director, and Guibert, its creative director, both noted that they’ve actually been with the Cirque for quite a few years. Alexandre began working as a concept artist with the Montreal circus in 2001 and Guibert has been on staff for a decade, mainly working in branding and advertising. But there is no question, judging from what we saw Tuesday, that Alexandre and Guibert have brought a breath of fresh air to the Cirque.

The first number features a madcap game show called Quid Pro Quo, and the scene soon segues into an acrobatic rope-skipping routine, with single rope and double Dutch sequences. The next number is a pas de deux with a traditional ballet dancer and a guy pulling off some eye-popping flatland BMX moves on his bike (almost like break-dancing on a bike). The final number presented in the preview was a full-scale BMX showcase, with bikers whizzing up and down giant ramps and flying through the air.

Guibert and Alexandre thought it would be a blast to give a BMX flavour to a Cirque show. “We fell in love with the culture, more than the disciplines themselves,” Guibert said. “The culture of extreme sports is all about inventing rules and not following rules. That’s been in our guidance in the creative process — how much we can challenge our Cirque rules and push the limits even further.”

“Everybody knows action sports,” Alexandre added. “So how can we bring that to the Cirque world and use it narratively to tell a story and touch people.”

It’s something quite different for the Cirque, but they weren’t overly worried about alienating the core Cirque audience. “We were happy to promote something with a little edge,” Alexandre said. “We feel the Cirque audience is broad enough and savvy enough to embrace it. But we’ve kept a lot of the DNA of the Cirque du Soleil.”

Bouchard noted that this is the 41st Cirque show and that the Montreal-based performing-arts giant has to constantly re-invent itself. “It’s about always bringing something new,” Bouchard said. “That’s a law for us. The planet evolves and we evolve. And we make the extreme sports theatrical in our own fashion. We have to give a personality to every show.”

The narrative of Volta revolves around Waz, a popular game-show host who has lost his identity in his relentless quest for fortune and fame. Part of the story focuses on Waz going back through his childhood memories to try to give meaning to his life. “The (theme) is to shed your fear … finding your true self and being able to promote that to the world,” Alexandre said. Guibert added: “It’s about embracing differences, celebrating differences. Today, more than ever, this theme is extremely relevant, and we’re happy to give people a chance to reflect on this.”

You can read the original article here: https://goo.gl/iGgz7w.

A COUPLE OF INTERESTING PASSAGES

Whether it’s for a a brand new concept gearing up to tour the world, or a new partnership ready to kick-off, Cirque du Soleil is constantly in the news. And never more so now on their home turf in La Presse. Earlier this month a series of article blurbs were shared from La Presse’s new online presence – LaPress+ – and while the articles are written in French, two pieces I translated via Goolge Translate stand out.

1) Cirque’s conquest [of China] will begin with the presentation of KOOZA on October 1st in Shanghai then tour Beijing and five other cities. TORUK, which was to be presented this year, was pushed back to the end of 2018. But the centerpiece is the permanent show to be presented in Hangzhou in 2018 in an 1800 seat theater currently under construction. The show, staged by Hugo Bélanger (Théâtre Tout à Trac), is already very advanced, said Lamarre. “It will be a Western-themed show that meets China, so it’s a bit of a meeting of international culture and Chinese culture.”

Cirque du Soleil posted a couple of casting notices with regards to the Hangzhou show recently. Seems Cirque du Soleil is looking for a middle-aged Caucasian singer with acting skills to play the role of a king AND a middle-aged female singer of Asian heritage with acting skills to play the role of an empress. Training and rehearsal is from March 26 to June 19, 2018, starting in Hangzhou on July 2, 2018, and with a soft-premiere in November 2018!

2) [On Paramour] “As we speak, we are looking for another theater in New York and we have a very advanced discussion to produce it in Hamburg. “If we find another theater in New York,” he added, “We can create a second distribution of Paramour, which was the goal from the start. ”

Check out the original article here: https://goo.gl/4mUz4X.

PARAMOUR BEGINS FINAL STRETCH OF PERFORMANCES

Cirque du Soleil Theatrical’s smash production of Paramour, the organization’s first show created specifically for Broadway, begins its final stretch of performances this month before it must vacate for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. According to Broadway World, “in one year, Paramour has thrilled over 500,000 audience members, more than any other show of the 2016-2017 season and celebrated the Broadway debuts of over 70 members of the cast and creative team representing 16 different countries, spanning five continents.” The production features at least 15 different circus arts disciplines, many of which have never appeared on Broadway. The disciplines cover aerial strap artists, Banquine, Chinese pole, contortion, Cyr wheel, hand to hand, hand to trapeze, juggling, lyra, Russian bar, Spanish web, teeterboard, tumbling, trampoline, and trapeze. And the show is still pulling in the dough…

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%
05-Mar    $769,249.75  $1,748,376.00 -$109,470.00  10,754  70.90%
12-Mar    $824,504.50  $1,748,376.00   $55,254.75  11,352  74.84%
19-Mar    $908.801.55  $1,748,376.00   $84,297.05  12,277  80.94%
26-Mar    $921,604.25  $1,748,376.00   $12,802.70  12,086  79.68%
02-Apr    $837,809.54  $1,748,376.00  -$83,794.71  11,057  72.90%

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

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