Sighting the Cirque du Soleil

Founded by a small group of former street performers from rural Quebec, the Cirque du Soleil mounted its first show under an 800 seat tent in the small Quebec town of Gaspi in 1984. The Cirque subsequently performed to rave reviews and sold out crowds in ten other cities and towns throughout the province, including Montreal. In spite of its name, the Cirque du Soleil is far from a conventional circus. A mix of circus arts and street entertainment, staged under magical lighting and set to original music, (without animals), the shows are extraordinary and powerful theatre.From 1984 to 1989 the Cirque du Soleil toured one show at a time, playing to an average of 270,000 people a year. In 2002, there will be no less than eight Cirque productions running on four continents, playing before 7,000,000 people.All Cirque shows are conceived, developed, rehearsed and staged at their 200,000 sq. ft. international headquarters, called Le Studio. In part gym, dance studio, theater, special effects lab and sound stage, Le Studio is the creative and administrative heart and center of the organization. Our studio will be concerned with their next project, a complex to be located on a highly charged site in downtown Montreal to include: a large performance theatre, (at which all new productions will be premiered), experimental theatres for development of productions that incorporate new technologies, an as yet to be defined media centre that will allow dramatic connection between the local (ie Montreal) parts, and the Cirque du Soleil\'s growing global realm.In the second week our studio will travel, (unfunded, but very inexpensively), to Montreal to tour Le Studio and the site of the new project, and to meet with various people in this remarkable organization.The studio will include a parallel investigation of various intersections between architecture, performance, and art, particularly minimalism. Near mid semester, there will be an optional trip to Marfa Texas to see the work of Donald Judd and Dan Flavin, in particular. The studio will meet Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, or Tuesday/ Thursday if more convenient for students.