Cirque du Soleil celebrates 25th anniversary
Cirque du Soleil, which has grown into one of Canada's best-known cultural exports, is celebrating its 25th anniversary in Montreal and around the world on Tuesday.
As part of the festivities, Cirque performers will attempt to recapture the world record for most people simultaneously walking on stilts.
The stilt walkers will gather outside Cirque's Montreal headquarters as well as in other cities such as Orlando, Las Vegas, Moscow, Lisbon, Macau, Tokyo and Fortaleza, Brazil.
The Quebec-based troupe got its start in the early 1980s in Baie St. Paul as a band of street performers, including entrepreneurial fire-eater Guy Laliberté. In 1984, Laliberté talked his way into a major gig for the troupe: a series of shows to celebrate the 450th anniversary of Jacques Cartier's arrival in Canada.
The newly named Cirque du Soleil went on to reinvent the public's perception of the circus, blending storytelling, acrobatics and theatrical costumes, lighting and music into a visual spectacle that delighted audiences.
The company now employs about 4,000 people on five continents, with 19 shows taking the stage in 2009. An estimated 15 million people will attend Cirque shows this year, joining the close to 90 million spectators who have taken in a Cirque show since 1984.
Laliberté, whose many accolades have included receiving the Order of Canada and being named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world, is now worth more than $2 billion.
He is taking time out of training for his upcoming trip to the international space station (as Canada's first space tourist) to participate in Tuesday's anniversary festivities.