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How Cirque du Soleil Works

The Cast
Photo courtesy Al Seib

The heart of all Cirque du Soleil shows is the performers and their unique acts. Casting agents and scouts scour cities and remote areas looking for new talent to add to new and existing Cirque shows.

Additionally, Cirque's casting agents hold auditions twice a year at their International Headquarter (IHQ) in Montreal, and performers can also submit video auditions. The Cirque du Soleil database currently holds more than 20,000 artist data cards on acts ranging from the sublime to the strange. Parisien recounts one man's video audition: "[It was] something very special…he puts his nose on the glass and he moves the glass so the nose is doing the choreography…it's very strange…the first time I saw that, I laughed."

All Cirque du Soleil performers must complete training or a "formation session" before they can perform with a show. Each performer is sent to Montreal where they will train for one to four months at the International Headquarters. More than 50 percent of Cirque's acts come from the gymnastic arts; the rest come from a mix of circus arts and theatre backgrounds. For those performers without theater or circus arts backgrounds, the formation session is critical. During this training period, performers learn the skills needed to effectively interact with audiences of 3,000 people.