On our third (and last) day in wintery Montreal, which we were visiting for the Michael Jackson world premiere. we were in for quite a treat. We were going behind the scenes of Cirque du Soleil at their world-wide headquarters! Cirque performers are encouraged to be creative in all aspects of their lives. The hallways are bursting with paintings and sculptures that employees make on their own time, and visiting all of the workshops was fascinating. Come on — I’ll take you on a tour. You’ve never seen Cirque du Soleil like this! We got to see what makes them tick.
First stop: the silkscreen studio, where they make all the costumes themselves. They don’t have a lot of storage space, so they’re constantly in production. As you can imagine, due to all the gravity-defying acrobatics that Cirque du Soleil is famous for, the performers can wear through their costumes pretty quickly.
Montreal and Las Vegas are a continent away, but there’s a strong bond between the two cities. (CEO Daniel Lamarre told me on the red carpet at the premiere that Cirque du Soleil considers Vegas “home.”) The Strip currently boasts seven Cirque shows within two miles — for the month of December, Michael Jackson’s The Immortal will make eight! (See them all here.) Here, the costume closet made me feel right at home, packed with things for Beatles Love and Mystere, two of my favorite shows.
Designers make each costume on a head mold, so it fits the performer perfectly. (Much of the process is now digitized, but they walked us through the whole process of making the molds. I think I would be claustrophobic!)
At least one of these heads belongs to a Vegas performer, because one of the executives in town with us gasped when she saw it!
Shoes are made by hand — or by modifying wrestlers’ shoes, which the Cirque du Soleil performers have deemed the best for gripping the floor, or whatever apparatus they might be working on.
All Cirque du Soleil performers must apply their own makeup! So they do not graduate from headquarters without hours of lessons. I think this girl has gotten pretty good!
Last stop: the studios!! The performers spend hours a day trying new stunts and working with their apparatus.
These guys were experimenting with trampolines and running vertically up this wall.
Our final, final stop was the “secret” studios, where new shows are created. No photos allowed! So you’ll have to start checking performance calendars for when the next Cirque du Soleil show is coming to you!
We were in Montreal for the premiere of Michael Jackson’s The Immortal. If you haven’t yet seen the trailer, you must watch it right now!
Heading to the area? On my first visit to Montreal, I also spent time in gorgeous historic Quebec. There is so much to do and see — I recommend checking out the city’s top travel agencies to make sure you don’t miss a thing. Bon voyage!