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blazing soleil THEY’VE CAST THEIR SPELL OVER AUDIENCES AROUND THE GLOBE, BUT FINALLY THE CIRCUS IS COMING TO TOWN. years ago at Florida’s Disneyland, the Cirque’s unique concept had already been absorbed into the mainstream entertainment industry. Setting their performance inside the Walt Disney theme park served only to emphasise the surreal sensuality that pulses through Cirque du Soleil. At Grand West, they will perform a 2007 adaptation of their longest-running show Saltimbanco (Italian for “jump on a bench”), which has been touring since 1992, with a cast of 50 high-calibre artists hailing from 20 different countries, including South African Daniel Buckland (son of South African theatre legend Andrew Buckland). Laliberté states: “Saltimbanco is a message of peace. In the 1990s, immigration was an issue – the mixing of cultures in cities and Saltimbanco reflects that mix, with all of its personalities and colours. It’s the challenge we have in today’s world: respecting each other, living and working together, despite our differences.” Although the original Saltimbanco was created 19 years ago, its message is still highly relevant and, of all Cirque du Soleil’s shows, is perhaps the most joyful, happy and colourful.






W H E N T H E C A N A D I A N P R O V I N C E of Quebec prepared to commemorate its 450th anniversary of European discovery in 1984, a small circus group from the Quebecois countryside, founded by accordionist and fire breather Guy Laliberté, saw its chance for fame and financial backing. Supported by the government, Cirque du Soleil (Circus of the Sun) soon enthralled audiences with their physical prowess, powerful live music and lavish costumes. After much success in their first year, they secured a second year of funding, and Laliberté hired Guy Caron from the National Circus School to create a contemporary circus with a theatrical, characterdriven approach and the absence of performing animals. The rest is a phenomenal success story, as astonishing as any of the Cirque’s gravity-defying acts. Today, the company employs over 4 000 people from over 40 countries and generates an estimated annual revenue exceeding R5billion. Guy Laliberté himself was named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential men in the world. When I first saw Cirque du Soleil 10


The guy sitting on a baroque chair plays one of the leading roles in Saltimbanco – the ringmaster. His name, I kid you not, is James Clowny. Clearly destiny played a firm hand in baptising this New York native. I called James in Istanbul, the last city that Cirque du Soleil performed in as part of their European itinerary.Although now touring for a year and a half, James is far from being exhausted – in fact, he’s exhilarated. He loves the challenge of the new, and although he can imagine that some people enjoy the comfort of routine, he’s not one of them and thrives on an itinerant lifestyle. “It’s like a dream come true,” he says. “For me, one of my dreams as a child was to see the world. I wouldn’t change my life for anything.” Given his penchant for transformation, it’s remarkable that, despite performing in Saltimbanco for 12 years, he claims to never have experienced a moment’s boredom. “I’ve seen all the Cirque shows and for me this is one of the most fascinating. Because there’s so much improvisation, you can watch it again and again and not see the same thing twice.” James loves the ringmaster’s role. “It allows me to live in the moment, to be myself; to grow and explore my own creativity.”

021 READER’S GIVEAWAY: Win one of 10 double tickets to Cirque du Soleil. Stay tuned via 021’s facebook group 021club


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021 READER’S GIVEAWAY: Win one PREVIEW 10 021 MAGAZINE AUTUMN 2011 of 10 double tickets to Cirque du Soleil. Stay tuned via 021’s facebook g...