Guy Laliberté decided he wanted to do a career in performing arts. A Canadian from Montreal he quit college and went backpacking in Europe with two accordions and a mout harp. He allegedly spent his first night on a bench in Hyde Park and then travelled the continent as a street performer, playing the accordion, walking on stilts and breathing fire. Back in Canada he put together some shows and in 1984 he created Le Cirque du Soleil. In 2006 an estimated 90 million people have seen a show by Le Cirque du Soleil. Only in 2009 they are expecting about 15.000.000 new visitors with 19 shows across the world.
Ok, but can anybody tell me what is Le Cirque du Soleil?
Is it really a ‘cirque’ (ie a circus)? They have clowns but they don’t have lions, tigers or elephants. They have great gymnasts but no real star performers. They have the classic circus tent… but they only have one. They have singers, a great setting and the plot/choreography is as sophisticated as that of theatre or ballet. Then every show has a single theme. Finally their price is closer to theatre or musicals than that of circus…
Le Cirque du Soleil is clearly not a typical circus, they’ve assembled different types of entertainment to create one completely unique show. They say that it’s a synthesis of all circus styles around the world.
From a spectator point of I find it amazing. But from a business point of view it is probably just as remarkable. They are able to attract both the people who might be interested in a circus (clowns, gymnasts) and those who are interested in more refined entertainment like musicals or theatre. Both youngs and adults will find many things to marvel at. So they grow their clientele… and they are able to charge the price of musicals. Then they create new shows, with new thems and new music, so if you loved one they give you more reasons to go back. On the cost side of things, their operation is much simpler and cheaper since they don’t have to deal with animals nor star performers (who usually are very expensive).
As a company, Le Cirque du Soleil must be something quite special. They have 4.000 employees in total, 1.000 of them being artists. 1.800 employees work at their headquarters in Montreal. Employees represent 40 nationalities and speak 28 languages. The average age is 35 years old and they have run shows in over 200 cities.
Whether you are an artist or a corporate type with a feeling for the arts, you might find interesting opportunities. As you can expect, the jobs at Le Cirque du Soleil range from ‘On-Stage’ (actors, dancers, athletes, clowns, musicians, etc…), Technical and Show support (Technical production and operations, performance medicine, artistic direction and show management) or the typical Corporate Jobs (Finance, HR, IT, marketing, admin). Check jobs.
I think this company is very inspiring. It’s a reminder of the importance of passion and of loving the job to be able to create something of great quality or great beauty.
Guy Laliberté found truly exceptional business success in a field where one could hardly see a great business opportunity, he was just trying to entertain people as well as he could…