Cirque du Soleil (French for "Circus of the Sun") is an entertainment empire based in Montr?al, Quebec, Canada and founded in Quebec in 1984 by two former street performers, Guy Lalibert? and Daniel Gauthier. It was an answer to a call by Commissariat g?n?ral aux c?l?brations 1534-1984 of the Quebec Government for the 450th anniversary celebration of the discovery of Canada by French explorer Jacques Cartier (b 1491-d 1557). Gauthier, who left the company in 2001, now owns the ski area Le Massif, on the St. Lawrence River in Quebec. Cirque du Soleil is now "guided" by Guy Lalibert?.
It has been described as the modern circus, and focuses upon a storyline as well as amazing performances. It has several resident and touring troupes and draws heavily from the circus tradition. Emphasizing the use of humans as performers, Cirque du Soleil does not make use of animals. Instead, its performances combine elements of street performances and busking, circus, opera, ballet, and rock music. Acts include contortionists, jugglers, feats of strength, clowning, and trapeze artists. Their costumes are very colorful and creative, setting a festive and lively atmosphere. Also, Cirque shows do not use pre-recorded music; all music is played live.
Cirque shows begin as a creative concept, usually with elements of a central story line, a design concept and the selection of a composer for the music. These elements remain relatively constant throughout the production run of a given show.
However, the shows also include both "house" and "guest" acts. House acts are performed by the full-time cast members, some whom may be involved in several routines. Not all prepared routines are presented in every performance. Guest acts rotate in and out over the run of the show (clowns are typically guest acts). As a result, Cirque shows can vary somewhat performance to performance, and shows tend to evolve over time.
Cirque creators borrow from some of circus's earliest forms (for example, banquine and teeterboard acts) but also regularly introduce new apparatus. For example, Cirque introduced the use of bungie cords to aerial acts and created a modified tumbling trampoline called a Power Track, both of which have since been adopted by other circuses.
Cirque du Soleil recruits acts from different world circuses, including from China and Russia, blending them into their own style.
Among veteran circus performers, Cirque is regarded as one of the world's best circuses, due to higher than normal pay scales and benefits.
Cirque du Soleil has produced a number of performance DVDs and soundtrack CDs.
The troupe was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.