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Cirque:Lions, tigers need not apply

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OLIVIER SAMSON ARCAND
  • Olivier Samson Arcand

In my next life, I'm going to be a Cirque du Soleil performer. Really. I made this decision about seven years ago, after being mesmerized by Cirque's show, Mystre, in Las Vegas.

When I tell people this, most nod their head, think I'm a bit odd and move on to the next topic. However, when I share this future plan with Carmen Ruest, Cirque's director of creation, she responds with a large smile and a heavily French-Canadian-accented, "It really might happen. I wish, I wish!"

Perhaps that's because with Cirque, just about anything is possible.

Started in 1984 by a small street-theater troupe Ruest was a stiltwalker at the time Cirque shows are now seen by more than 10 million people each year. Come Nov. 30, here in the Springs, Cirque will be performing its 4,500th showing of Saltimbanco.

Transformed from a stationary big top to an arena tour, Saltimbanco is Cirque's oldest stage show and "really carries the heart and soul of the company," says Ruest. "It's more classical, signature Cirque."

Saltimbanco is set within an imaginative big city, bringing the urban experience and its quirky characters to the stage. It's designed to be a bright and funky two-hour piece that appeals to all ages, letting young children simply be touched by a festival of colors, yet providing enough layers so teens and adults will connect with the storyline's premise that diversity is a cause for hope.

Think James Dobson might have any issues with Cirque - performers? - OLIVIER SAMSON ARCAND
  • Olivier Samson Arcand
  • Think James Dobson might have any issues with Cirque performers?

Though it's a lot of work to move people's imaginations day after day, Ruest aims to keep each show fresh.

"[Our performers] sweat their blood on stage every day," she says. "Every show is a creation felt."

And with 47 performers coming from 20 countries not including the 3,800-plus other employees working on this and Cirque's 14 other shows sometimes it's hard enough to get everyone on the same page, in the same language.

That takes passion.

As does Cirque founder and president Guy Lalibert's commitment to giving back. When you see a Cirque show, you're not just paying out to see some acrobats and clowns (as if Cirque's artists were just acrobats and clowns, anyway). You're becoming a part of something bigger.

In many of the same places that you'll find Cirque du Soleil, you'll also find its Cirque du Monde project, offering circus workshops and camps for at-risk youth. Three weeks ago, Lalibert launched the One Drop Foundation, a global program fighting world poverty by making sure everyone has access to safe drinking water.

"We need to take care of our planet for the future," Ruest says. "We're really lucky that Cirque du Soleil was so successful ... we have to give back.

"[There's] something always in our shows about sharing, about reaching out to others, and about believing in your dreams. ... Impossible is not a word."

Lucky for you. And lucky for me now and in my next life.

Cirque du Soleil: SaltimbancoWednesday, Nov. 28, 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, Nov. 29, through Saturday, Dec. 1, 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $32-$70; call 576-2626 or visit ticketswest.com.

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