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How Cirque du Soleil Works


Set Creation
The aerial high bar
The aerial high bar
Photo courtesy Al Seib

The Cirque du Soleil set design department creates the stage and equipment for each show. The two major considerations are aesthetics and safety. With Alegria, the sets were designed to convey the show's themes of power and contrast. The set of Alegria is reminiscent of a church dome, a symbol of power with two staircases on either side to illustrate contrast or "two sides."

For another Cirque show, Varekai, the set designer used Discreet's 3D Max animation software and industrial engineering software to design a magical golden forest. The set design team made the golden trees in the Varekai set from proprietary materials developed by Cirque that are flexible yet strong enough to support the weight of the acrobats.

Innovation in aesthetics and safety design is an essential ingredient in the recipe for Cirque's success. Cirque has invented many pieces of equipment specifically for their shows, including the fast track, a specialized trampoline, and the double Russian swing. Cirque du Soleil will hire other companies to help in the creation of some aspects of the set and stage, but anything that is actually used by the acrobats is designed at a research and development facility at the IHQ. The in-house designers have total control over the safety and design of the devices they build.

The fast track
The fast track
Photo courtesy Al Seib