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Case Study - Cirque Du Soleil

Case Study - Cirque Du Soleil

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Published by Ebube Anizor
MGMT 6800 Case Study: Cirque du Soleil From the Streets to the Stars

Da Yi Ebube Anizor

November 16, 2009

a

From the Streets to the Stars

From the Streets to the Stars

“The mission of Cirque du Soleil is to invoke the imagination, provoke the senses and evoke the emotions of people around the world.”

Cast of ‘Characters’
Guy Laliberté: a Rising Star!
Born in Québec City in 1959, Laliberté’s talents as an accordionist, stilt-walker and fire-eater provided the foundation for what would be
MGMT 6800 Case Study: Cirque du Soleil From the Streets to the Stars

Da Yi Ebube Anizor

November 16, 2009

a

From the Streets to the Stars

From the Streets to the Stars

“The mission of Cirque du Soleil is to invoke the imagination, provoke the senses and evoke the emotions of people around the world.”

Cast of ‘Characters’
Guy Laliberté: a Rising Star!
Born in Québec City in 1959, Laliberté’s talents as an accordionist, stilt-walker and fire-eater provided the foundation for what would be

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Published by: Ebube Anizor on Sep 09, 2011
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12/01/2013

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MGMT 6800
Case Study: Cirque du Soleil
From the Streets to the Stars
Da YiEbube Anizor
November 16 2009
 
a
 
From the Streets to the Stars
From the Streets to the Stars
“The mission of 
Cirque duSoleil
is to invoke theimagination, provoke thesenses and evoke theemotions of people aroundthe world.”
Cast of ‘Characters’
Guy Laliberté: a Rising Star!
Born in Québec City in 1959, Laliberté’stalents as an accordionist, stilt-walker andfire-eater provided the foundation for whatwould be a remarkable career.His father a PR executive and mother anurse, Laliberté once remarked that he grewup in a typical French-Canadian home."There was always a reason for a party,always music in the house." As a child hewas interested in performing and took martialarts, folk dancing and sang in choirs.
(4)
By 16 he had produced several high schoolevents and had decided on a performancearts career. Laliberté dropped out of collegeto tour Europe as a busker and folk musicianreturning to Canada in 1979 with a new setof performance skills but also needed to finda ‘real’ job.
(3)
After only 3 days employed at adam in James Bay a strike ended the job andLaliberté, living off of unemploymentinsurance, joined the stilt-walking troupe
LesÉchassiers de Baie-Saint-Paul;
this would bea predecessor to
Cirque
.
(5)
The life of billionaire Laliberté has notbeen without controversy. Much hasbeen rumored about the sex, drug andalcohol fueled lifestyle of not only thefounder but many under the
Cirque
 umbrella.Due to the wild success of 
Cirque
 Laliberté has received many honoursincluding the Order of Quebec, Order Of Canada, and the HumanitarianAward in 2007 for his socialcommitment with his ONE DROPFoundation.While
Cirque
officially supports a fewcommunity programs involving youthat risk and extending art workshopsand culture activities to children ONEDROP was the primary reasonLaliberte went to space – to send themessage that safe, clean water mustbe accessible to all peoples.Quite a character!
Abstract
From the Streets to the StarsCAST
“Cirque du Soleil beganwith a very simpledream. A group of youngentertainers got togetherto amuse audiences, seethe world, and have fun
 
doing it.”
From its humble beginnings as a small group of Quebec streetperformers in 1984,
Cirque du Soleil 
(
Cirque
) has grown into a globalphenomenon over the past 25 years.
Cirque
was formed by GuyLaliberté, a street-performer himself, who currently remains with theorganization as CEO.While its early years were distinctly marked with traditional circusattractions such as clowns, stilt walkers, jugglers and fire breathers,
Cirque
has evolved from its traditional circus origins into a distinguishedmelange of theatre, dance, acrobatics and opera. Quite frankly
Cirque
 entertainment captures many elements of the aforementioned genres,but yet occupies a space on the entertainment spectrum that it createdand arguably solely occupies.With its unique offering,
Cirque
has gone on to entertain 100 millionpeople in Asia, Australia, Europe, North America & South America andnow employs 4,000 people from over 40 countries, including 1,000artists.
(1)
 
Cirque
has navigated its way through 3 global recessions, asovereignty referendum in Quebec, and the burst of entertainmentoptions available to the consumer to remain decidedly private andgenerate estimated revenues of approximately $800 million in 2009.
(2)
 The core of 
Cirque
’s business is from its touring (tent) shows, arenashows, and residents shows with the balance consisting of merchandising, production and hospitality. Their philanthropic effortshave focused on youth and clean water issues.In October 2009 Laliberté paid the $35 million to spend nearly twoweeks in space to raise awareness of global water access; becomingthe first clown in space.
From the Streets to the Stars
documents the history of 
Cirque
 
du Soleil 
 and how they have identified, explored, conceptualized and realized theopportunity to bring the new “circus” to the people of the world.Unlike the traditional circus, the
ensemble
,as opposed to any single performer, is thecentral attraction of any
Cirque
production.Acrobats, dancers and other wonderfulperformers make up the cast who aregiven elegant and artistic roles to embodyas part of a storyline to draw in theaudience.
Cirque’s
differentiation is largely due itsever active creativity and strong designethic.
Cirque
lives by the “show is thestar” concept; and it applies not only to theperformers but creators and designers.This perspective is enabled by
Cirque’s
 strong collaborative team approach thatallows them to take risks.
CREATORS & DESIGNERSQUEBEC
Cirque
was founded with the funding of theQuebec government in 1984. Montreal notonly houses the company headquarters,but is where all show ideas are developed,produced and premiered. Not only doesthis ensure that
Cirque
does not ‘forgettheir roots’; but helps control the quality of the productions.
 
a
 
1|Humble Beginnings
From the Streets to the Stars
The Cirque is Born
1984-1985
Les Échassiers (Stilt Walkers) de Baie-Saint-Paul
1980-1983
In the summer of 1980 Baie-Saint-Paul, a small town of under 8,000 people about 100 kilometres outside of Quebec City was home to probably more than its fair share of street performers. Most notable at the time were
Les Échassier de Baise-Saint-Paul 
.
Les Échassier 
was founded by Gilles Ste-Croix who at the time hadexperience organizing performance troupes from the pool of talented artists in town.
(6)
The troupe touredQuebec during the summer of 1980 and was well received by audiences, although financially a failure.
(7)
Not satisfied with the status quo and street venues Ste-Croix, joined by his friends and fellow performers DanielGauthier and Guy Laliberté, organized La Fête Foraine de Baie-Saint-Paul, a cultural arts festival whereperformers convened to exchange ideas and add life to the streets. The initial success of the festival in 1982 ledthe trio to organize it again in 1983 and 1984. The appeal the festival gave the men allusions of a bright futurewhere a Quebec-based troupe would entertain the world.
(6)
 The first production,
Le Grand Tour du Cirque Du Soleil 
debuted in the small town of Gaspé, and spread to 10other cities throughout the province. Laliberté decided upon the name while vacationing in Hawaii and chose thesun because it symbolized energy and youth.
Le Grand Tour 
was certainly more ambitious than other efforts byLaliberté; a key first was performing under the big top tent to audiences of up to 800. Of course this was fraughtwith folly! The group, inexperienced in staging a circus, faced technical difficulties with the tent collapsing under the weight of rain and a mutiny from European performers used to working with a higher caliber of expertise. Butthat seemed to be the
Cirque
way even until this day – trial and error, exploration and risk.
(7)
After touring major Quebec cities
Le Grand Tour 
left the province for the first time taking on the now famousmoniker 
Cirque du Soleil.
Audiences in Ottawa, Toronto and Niagara Falls got their first sampling of 
Cirque
andshowed little interest. In Toronto the group performed to audiences of 25% capacity, in Niagara Falls theresponse was equally unfavourable. Given the entertainment options in major cities
Cirque
needed the impactof a marketing campaign to attract audiences; but had not money to do so. It is reported that Gilles Ste-Croixdawned a monkey suit and walked the streets of Toronto in a desperate act to garner interest in the show.Needless to say the stunt didn’t work; although this ‘personal’ marketing technique would be used by
Cirque
 more successfully in the future.The group had graduated from being buskers to circus performers following what is the natural trajectory in theindustry. While Laliberté and his partners had great dreams of taking the circus to the world; the obviousquestion in light of its lukewarm response from audiences was:
is the world interested in yet another circus?
Buoyed by the success of 
La Fête,
the group now more or less under the guidance of Lalibertéplanned to share their talents on a grander scale. In 1983 as the province was preparing tocelebrate the 450
th
anniversary of Jacque Cartier’s arrival in Canada the following year, Lalibertémoved the group to Montreal and applied to the Quebec government for funding to participate inthe festivities. The province sought the means to translate the Cartier festivities across theprovince, so Laliberté proposed a travelling streetperformance, obviously familiar territory, and received$1.5 million in funding from the province. This was thebeginning of a relationship with the Quebec governmentthat would be desperately needed in years to come.Taking a step back, the trio and their troupe were engaging in one of the oldest occupations –
 
 busking. Simply put they were performing for money. While I’m sure like most buskers, Ste-Croixet al. performed for the fun or love of their art; quite frankly it would be hard to envision such anact entertaining the world; simply because major cities in almost every continent had century oldtraditions of such acts – was
Les Échassier 
really any different?

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