Even a clown can do it: Cirque du Soleil recreates live entertainment By Matt Williamson,lV. Chan Kim, Rende Mauborgne and Ben M. Bensaour Cirque du Soleil began with a very simple drcam. A group of...

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Even a clown can do it: Cirque du Soleil recreates live entertainment By Matt Williamson,lV. Chan Kim, Rende Mauborgne and Ben M. Bensaour Cirque du Soleil began with a very simple drcam. A group of 1,oung entertainers got together to amuse audiences, see the world, and have fun doing it. Every yea4 the audience becomes biggea yve continue to discover new places and ideas and we're still having fun. We also dream of sufusing our new projects with the energy and inspiration, that are the essence of our shows. And we want to help "ttoung people express their drcams . . . and make them come true. (Guy Lalibert6, President and Chief Executive Officer, Cirque du Soleil) f n 198a, a determined Guy Lalibert6 set out to Lleinvent the circus industry. This was no small challenge given that the very core of the product was delivering spectacles and surprise on a daily basis. As with many other industries, this one had its share o1' white elephants and dogs. It was ril'e witlr promoters, hustlers and frre-breathers of all sorts, but had its impassive iron-men as well. An amalgam of both strong traditions and quest for novelty, it was a circus. From its original incarnation as a troupe called 'Le Club des Hauts Talons', so named because of its host of stilt-walkers, Lalibert6's Cirque du Soleil rapidly evolved from a pack ofunder-employed kids into one of the largest Canadian cultural exports. Almost 30 million people saw one of the troupe's productions between 1984 and 2000. In that last year alone, approximately 50,000 people took in the Soleil experience, as productions appeared in 120 cities around the world. From a production which put on its show in an 800 people tent purchased with an Arts grant from the Quebec govemment, the show now boasts three separate traveling productions housed in 2,500 people tents and four permanent shows in purpose built theaters in Orlando, Biloxi (Mississippi) and Las Vegas.: The origins of Cirque du Soleil Cirque du Soleil was created in 1984 by a group of young street performers who had pooled their talents and formed the 'Club des Talons Hauts' two years earlier. Initially formed as part of the celebration of the 450th anniversary of Jacques Cartier's arrival in Quebec, the brainchild of Guy Lalibert6 was based on a totally new concept: a mix of the circus arts and street erlterlai n nrent, f'eaturing rvi lcl c:osLu mes, stagcd under 'magical' Iighting and set to original music. As such, Cirque du Soleil was part of a movement that many call the New Arnerican Circus. Cirque du Soleil scrambled the existing traditions of the circus and the performing arts, and reinvented the wheel. Thc resulting drearn world, populated by operatic, choreographed and acrobatic sprites is like no other place on earth; a reflection ofthe arts which inspired it. Sharing elements of dance, circus and opera, Soleil competes with them all but remains utterly unique. Nor has Soleil failed to draw attention to its novel position as a non-circus; early shows, We Reinvent the Cirats and Nouvelle Expdrience forewarned the audience that the show would be unlike anything they had ever seen before, under the Big Top or anywhere else. It was not, however, the first to take this new route. Paul Binder and Michael Christiansen founders of the Big Apple Circus in 1979, and Larry Pisoni, founder of the Pickle Family Circus, brought the more classical one-ring circus back to America after over a hundred years, when even the smallest circus spread their shows over three rings.r Also in 1979. Guv Caron established the circus school that rSource: @ 2002 INSEAD-EAC, Fontainebleau, France. All rights reserved. rCirque du Soleil is based in Montreal, Quebec and nrns shows around the world. Nevertheless, the ma.jority of its performances take place in the United States. rEmest Albrecht, The Ne:x, American Cirarc (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida), p2. 928 would eventually become the Ecole Nationale du Cirque and train a significant number of the original performers in Cirque du Soleil's initial thirteen-week tour. Each ofthese key players were outsiders in the tradition bound world of the circus, having roots more akin to the hippie counter'-culture than anything else. In contrast to the consciously intimate scale and deference to skill and artistry above comtnercialism of the Piokle Farnily Circus and Big Apple Circus, Cirque dtr Soleil has never hesitated to make theirs a cornmercial enterprise. With a US$1.7 rrillion contract from the provincial government of Quebec, the show traveled the province and produced some powerful fans that it would later need. Ending the first season with a surplus of US$50,000, Lalibert6 decided to promote his new show, and invested heavily in a new tent and other equipment. Ending 1985 to critical acclaim, Cirque du Soleil was nevertheless US$750,000 in debt fiom its investments in equiprnent despite extending the run several cities beyond the initial routc. Rcnc. l-evesque. thcn the Plinte Minister of Quebec, and an avid fan fi'om the 1984 openrng show, saw the cultural value in supporting the enterprise and refinanced the debt.4 The troupe made another huge gamble in spending all its remaining funds after the 1986 season to .join thc Los Angeles Arts fesrival in 1987, its first serious lblay outside of the Quebec region. This time the garnble paid off. Cirque du Soleil was a big success and almost irnmediately sold out its Iater showsPatronage of celebrities like Steve Martin, David Bowie, Madonna, Elton John and Francis Ford Coppola helped tlre rroupe seal its identity as a sophisticated and new form of entertainment. The content and style of Cirque du Soleil Cirque dLr Soleil has a unique approach to developing its shows, setting it apart from most other circuses. 'A Cirque du Soleil performance is like no other circus ever seen in the United States or anywhere else. It is relentless in its drive to be nothing short of spellbinding.' A thematic line, though frequently rather vague and intentionally so, is manirAlbrecht. p75- sAlbrecht, p77. 6Cuy Caron in Albrechr, p77. cAsE 21 CIRqUE DU SOLEIL 929 fested throughout the show in costumes, music, the types of acts performed. While not rising to the level of storylines, the themes bring harmony and an intellectual component to the show, without introducing limits on the potential for acts. Rather than taking acts as they exist and compiling them into a show, Guy Caron, Franco Dragone and the creative teams at Cirque du Soleil who have followed them, begin with the therne, such as Saltimbanco or Quidam and build a show to suit. The result is a seamless entertainment experience for the audience rather than a punctuated series of acts. Moreover, unlike traditional circus, the company has multiple productions where shows have distinctive themes that allow the possibility for the same buyer to visit Le Cirque multiple times. In creating the performance that rocked the Los Angeles Arts Festival, Caron took his team on a weeklong retreat to focus simply on developing the theme and how it would be conveyed through each cornponent of the show. That theme rather than simply being a ncrv edition of {he circus, each tirne is a performance and an experience in itself. It serves as the audience's guarantee for a high quality and exotic experience. The lnost important element of this thematic drive, and the starting point from which the creative learn begins, is an original score. Since the inception of Cirque du Soleil, Rene Dupere has taken the creative director's expression of the theme and transfbrmed it into a full-length original score. The music fbl a Soleil show drives the selection of the visual performance, lighting and timing of the acts, rather than the reverse.5 Says Caron, 'In the movement you see the music and in the music you hear the movetnent.'o In more than just the theme sequencing of production, Cirque du Soleil represents a true mixture of performance arts. It is not quite a circus and not quite an opera or theater eitheq but takes elements from them all. While the signature blue and yellow tent and the circus acrobatics and clowns that form much of the show's content are clearly circus, the show takes place on a stage without a ring and seating on three sides. In constructing the physical dimensions of the show the creative team draws heavily upon the 930 SECTION 6 CASIS circus arts, featuring jugglers, trampolinists, trapeze artists, teeterboard virtuosos and, of course, clowns. Nevertheless, each act, even each movement, has a purpose within the show and confibutes to the development of the thematic element. Because of this singularity of purpose, big name actS have no place in Cirque du Soleil. The presence of Gunther Gebel-Williams and 40 wild cats or a drum roll leading into a Gaona quadruple somersault would undercut the dreamlike development of the theme. Performers in Cirque du Soleil, while very accomplished in their own right, play roles within the larger show. In part because of the outlandish costumes, but also because of the lack of a ringmaster announcing the acts and a program which buries the names of the individual performers in a cast list at the back, individual performers are in essence anonymous to the audience. This was not lost on the initial cast of Cirque du Soleil and many were dismayed to learn that Lalibert6 might not always include them in future productions. A final striking detail of the Cirque du Soleil experience, which sets it apart Ii'om rnost traditional circuses, is the complete absence of performing animals. There are none. This is a dramatic departure for a medium that originated in a horse ring and has been synonymous with elephant shows and wild animal trainers. Leaving animal acts behind, Lalibert6 has created something new and difTerent, not quite circus, but not quite anything else. Circus historian Fred Pfening notes, 'there's one question that always annoys me: "But is it circus?" That's utterly irrelevant. It is what the audience thinks it is. It is Soleil.'7 The business of Cirque du Soleil Certainly, the initial vision that drove the founders of the various New American circuses were much more artistic than commercial. The family nature of bpth the Pickle Family Circus and the Big Apple Circus were much more reminiscent of a hippie commune than a typical start-up. Somewhat in contrasj, Cirque du Soleil took little time to become immenSely profitable after its success at the Los Angeles Arts Festival. Unlike the others, Soleil pursued the dual goals of artistry and profit, exemplified in the initial TAuthor's interview with circus historian Fred Pfening, May 15, 2001. dAuthor's interview with circus historian Fred Pfening, May 15, 2001. agreement between Caron and Lalibert6 to lead these two componentseparately. Over time, Soleil has come up with a lifecycle strategy that features an opening in Montreal foilowed by a North American tour, stretching over several years. The show then remains on tour for up to 4 more years, traveling first through Europe usualiy followed by a jaunt through Asia. Instead of traveling to audiences, three permanellt shows tap into the continuous flow of potential viewers through such places as Las Vegas and Disney World. Mystere, La Nouba and 'O'have run in such permanent installations from the beginning, while Alegria, one of Soleil's older touring shows, has performed in the riverboat gambling casinos of Biloxi, Mississippi for' what was to be a permanent engagement, only to begin touring anew two years later in the spring of 2001. Surprisingly, not since Nouvelle Experience has a Soleil show stopped touring. Quidam is exemplary of the typical touring Cirque du Soleil show. The show was produced for approxirnately tlS$5.9 million and firsl staged in Montleal rn April 1996. Followittg a thlecr-yeat lour of North America, the show has traveled throughout Europe. Expected annual gross revenue at initiation of the tour was US$14.6 million, a number that has been exceeded year after year by a significant amount, according to Soleil stalf. Cirque du Soleil draws its levenue in significantly different fashion from the traditional circus and other shows which take place in civic arenas and sports stadiums. The show derives the great majority of revenues from ticket sales, though sponsor partners and concession sales contribute to the margins. Soleil's focus on providing sophisticated entertainment enables a different approach to ticket pricing. Rather than a family event with fiee or discounted tickets fbr children or certain family members, Soleil seats are generally sold at full face value. 'Sure there are a couple ofkids at a Soleil performance, but children rnake up a much srnaller share of the audience. With the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey's circus (hereafter refered to as the Ringling Brothers & Co.) the audience is almost all families or kids.'8 Reflecting the adult rnarket for live entertainment, Soleil tickets are available at a substantially higher price, in keeping with a major theater or opera ticket. Tickets for Dralion's 2001 New York engagement sold at US$65 to US$85. VIP packages including food offered in a separate pre-show gathering tent sell at up to US$230 per seat. Meanwhile, 'O' sported the most expensive seat for Vegas based productions after boosting the price to US$110 per seat'in November 2000. It remains one of the hardest tickets to find. Its shows are also regularly sold out and boast the highest seat occupaney in the industry, consistently approaching 85-95Vo. Soleil holds a traditionaily large source of circus revenues, i.e., the concessions, at arm's length. Not surprisingly, less than l}Vo of revenues come from concessions at a Soleil show. In keeping with the performance-centered ethic of the troupe, nothing is sold during the performance or inside the tent. For the Ringling Brothers & Co. shows, this number may be dramatically higher, closer to 20Vo, as the sales eftbrt is substantially stronger. The Ringling Brothers & Co. circus has hawkers who travel amongst the seated audience selling food and toys; concession stands are also packed tightly outside the perlormance space. Sponsorships are a low-key but significant source ofrevenue for Soleil. Originally a key revenue earner from the days when the show operated as non-profit, many of the traveling shows have a primary sponsor, usually associated with the VIP tent. Lincoln Automobiles is the primary sponsor of Dralion, with 5 other corporations taking minor sponsorship roles entitling them to discreet mention in the playbill, advertising and banners around the tent.') For a typical 'shrine'circus or even a larger show such as the Big Apple Circus, a main sponsor guarantees a gate to the circus and sells the tickets independently. Sponsors in this vein are normally powerful local non-profit organizations who use the event as a major fundraising opportunity. They view it as a chance to associate themselves with the panache of Soleil and the upscale consumers attending the show. The anangement is much more like a sponser at a sporting event such as the Masters or the US Open. Using its fantastic creative team and seeking to build on the brand the live shows have created, in recent years Soleil has somersaulted into film and other ventures. Beginning with videos of live performances and behind the scenes documentaries, the CASE 21 CIRQIJE DU SOLEIL 931 troupe graduated to film, creating Journey of Man in the IMAX format. Pieced together using performers from several of the different productions, the film creates a dreamlike vision of the trajectory of one man's life using the brushstrokes of Soleil's signature costuming and circus arts. Though the IMAX format limits the potential box office take - both the projection equipment and special dimension screens are extlemely expensive and lirnited in numbers - longer term engagements at the science museums that often host these films enable Soleil to bridge the film barrier by adding a physical dimension of rides and interactive displays that would not be available at a normal cinema. At the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, for instance, movie-goers willing to pay an additional US$2, can bicycle on a high-wire l0 meters above the heads of other patrons standing on the ticket line.lo
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Robert answered on Dec 20 2021
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A). Cirque du Soleil is a circus company which has changed the way circus used to be giving a new meaning and definition altogether. The company tried and created a fusion of traditional as well as modern art which proved to be a successful event for the company. The success did not come in a day or two but it was result of the efforts and hard work of the people associated with the company. These people are the stakeholders of the company. These stakeholders consist of owners, employees of the company, the customers, the governments, authorities, people from entertainment industry, the suppliers and event organizers etc. They all have played great hands in the very success of the company.
The company stands to a position today due to its stakeholder as they supported it throughout its journey and they continue to do so. A venture is only successful if it has a good and prosperous relationship with its stakeholders. Cirque du Soleil is a company which thoroughly believed in satisfying its stakeholders as they are the ones who get the business going in the long run. The company can avoid the interests of the stakeholders to get short term benefits but when it comes to long run, it will fail miserably. The business association is meant for mutual benefits and the party avoiding this fact will always at the receiving end in the long run.
Stakeholder theory and empirical research indicate that most of the companies manage their relationships with their different kinds of stakeholders group. The companies manage their relationships with stakeholders due to both normative and instrumental reasons. In this cut throat competition companies are left with no choice but to maintain a good relationship with their stakeholders as they can fly to the competitors who will make a great damage to the company. In fact, in the cu
ent business scenario a business cannot survive considering the competition is so rampant. Generally, the relationship between the company and stakeholders is characterized by mutual interdependence.
The stakeholders of Cirque du Soleil have always been supportive to the company and this has proved to be very fruitful for the company. They have supported the company throughout which makes the company quite successful. The owners are able to generate huge profit through the company and they support the stakeholders in every way possible as they are the ones which are making the company profitable. The employees are devoted and loyal to the company and actively participate in the growth of the company and give their full efforts. The employees are satisfied the way they are treated in the company and they feel proud to be the part of a great circus company which keeps on innovating to take this art to the next level.
The customers are amused by the great performance and entertainment beyond their expectations. Cirque du Soleil has been able to deliver something unique and enthralled the spectators and this is the thing which makes stand against so popular movies. There are times when people prefer Cirque du Soleil over the movies. The governments and authorities support the company as they will get money out of the shows being organized and also, they will provide an opportunity to the citizens to experience the magic of Cirque du Soleil. The company has organized its shows in more than 120 cities around the world. There is no stopping by for the company if they keep on getting their supports. (Morgan, R.M. & Hunt, S.D., 1994).
People from entertainment industry are heavily affected by the shows of the company and they have their vested interest in the company. Also, the company has recently started making movies and documentaries based on their live performances. The suppliers and organizers have direct involvement and they support the company as their businesses are interdependent. They are profitable only by the time the companies are doing well they are associated with. So, the company is this much successful by virtue of the supports of all the stakeholders. They all are adding to the success by their own way of supports.
). Stakeholders are the engine of a business which get it going long way. The business of the business is to do business i.e. to perform high on financial front. The stakeholders clu
ed together carve the way out for the financial performance of the company. The key elements of the business should be satisfied so that they put it their best efforts for the very growth of the organization. No business can survive in the long run avoiding its key stakeholders. The financial performance of a company heavily depends upon its stakeholders to a large extent.
Customer satisfaction plays the pivotal role in the financial performance of a company. The customers are the key element and the whole business revolves around them and an organization has to keep on satisfying with its product or service offerings. The satisfied customers will come again and again to have the experience of Cirque du Soleil. Also, they will spread a word of mouth publicity which will work as a catalyst to pull in more and more spectators for the company which will ultimately turn into increased performance. The company has always tried to adapt to a differentiation strategy which ensures that they stand out in the competition. They serve the customers with such innovative shows which offer great aesthetic pleasure to the customers and they find worth watching the shows. The customers tend to compare value for money, and the company offers the best value for money so that they even pull movie audiences to their shows. The circus has never been as popular as movie is but...
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