Cirque du Soleil has been performing for groups since 1984 using stunts, acrobatics and the power of the imagination to captivate audiences worldwide. The fact that Cirque’s special events staff can bring the magic of their performances to your next event is something many planners don’t know. Anything is possible, from tailor-made repertoires anywhere in the world to private shows in Cirque’s featured cities.
We spoke to events director Yasmine Khalil to get a better idea of the many different and spectacular evenings that Cirque can create for your next corporate gala.
Prevue: In what parts of the world can Cirque du Soleil put on a private event?
Khalil: That’s an easy answer. Basically, we can do it anywhere in the world. Our events are tailor-made to each client so we don’t rely on a troupe in a specific location. We’re not working with any of the touring or permanent shows.
We have performers all over the world and when we create a special event we don’t work with the performers who are the closest, we work with those who are best suited to deliver the message or objective of the client.
So a client can request a totally new, customized performance from Cirque du Soleil?
That’s what we do. The essence of our special events division is to customize and create shows that take all sorts of forms. You can imagine a show where multimedia takes the stage, and not necessarily the performers. We can do product launches where the main content is the product and the way it is revealed.
The creativity of Cirque has led to other platforms, rather than just taking artists and acrobats and creating something similar to our touring and fixed shows. Instead, we’ll take that creativity and apply it to create something new.
Can you give us an example of the type of event you’re describing?
We did a car launch a few years ago in Europe. We gathered 2,000 guests of the client who thought they were invited for a cocktail reception. The event took place inside a transparent tent that had been covered with a red cloth. Throughout the evening there were parts of cars flying over their heads but no one knew why.
At the end of the evening a huge crane pulled the red cloth off of the tent and revealed that these people were in a transparent tent. At that moment, 50 cars started driving around the tent and that’s how the car was revealed. In other words: the people were the ones being revealed to the car instead of the other way around.
It’s that one-of-a-kind way of leaving a lasting impression on the people who are there, and the buzz factor from that experience, that really gives all the impact to the reveal. Not only will media be in attendance but people who are present will talk about it and that’s what creates that buzz factor I’m talking about. This is what I mean by not having acrobats always at the center of the event.
Can Cirque cover all the details of a special event like finding a venue?
It happens both ways. There are two ways of working with us. One way is to provide us with the venue and we try to analyze it and see what we can do within the venue. Obviously some have more restrictions than others while some are fabulous and allow us to create great things. If they don’t have a venue and it’s a market that we know, then we’ll come up with certain suggestions.
In locations or countries where we don’t have a great amount of expertise, we rely on local production companies to source out venues.
What about catering? Is that a possibility as well?
It really depends on where we feel we add the most value. We’re not going to come in and say we’re going to take over food and drinks if we feel that the local companies can do an awesome job. We’re not looking necessarily to take on an A-Z responsibility but we can and we do often.
It really depends how much integration there needs to be between the concept of the event and the food, beverages and set-up and even the design of the way the room is set up. We’ll integrate the way the food is presented, the way the waiters are dressed and etc. It depends on each client. We really try to understand what they’re looking for, and we adapt, create and customize the event from there.
Can a group bring out an existing show to the event?
Not really, because the performers only get one day off a week so there really isn’t too much flexibility with dates and times, but what we can do is work off of them. We had a client in Dubai who saw O, loved O and wanted O. So we said, “Why not create a water show for you?” We can customize to the venue, and each client’s situation will dictate how far we can go
Can groups have private viewings of shows if they’re traveling to a location where an existing show is being performed?
They can actually just buy all the tickets to the big top. If it’s a smaller group then they can access Tapis Rouge, which is the VIP section. That accommodates 250 people, rather than 2,500 people. For a big company who wants to buy out a show, it can be easily done. For others, the Tapis Rouge is more accessible and basically hosts you an hour before the show for beverages and food, followed by the best seats in the house for the show.
What’s the range in size of the groups you’ve worked with?
We’ve done events for the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards. We’ll do private groups up to 30,000 but we’ve also done events for 30 people. We did 15 people in Russia for a birthday party and private show.
A lot of people don’t know Cirque does this. They think Cirque means just putting on a show with an existing act. We’re not out there advertising but for those who call us, we really try to evaluate each request where we feel there’s a creative challenge and where we can bring great value to the client and live up to their expectations.
Regardless of budget or size, the event still has to be way up there in terms of surpassing expectations and delivering on the quality for which Cirque du Soleil is famous.