Founder of Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberte,
says Saltimbanco reflects today’s world
where people respect each other while
living and working together despite
(Images: Cirque du Soleil)
• Big Concerts
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It will be the first time the Canadian circus company stages this specific production in South Africa.
“Saltimbanco is inspired by the urban fabric of the metropolis and its colourful inhabitants,” Cirque du Soleil said in a statement.
The production has a diverse cast of 50 artists from 20 different countries and comprises nine acts.
Attie van Wyk, CEO of Big Concerts, said: “Only the original Cirque du Soleil can offer the grand and unique style of entertainment they invented over 25 years ago.”
Currently on tour in the UK, Cirque du Soleil and event organisers will face a huge task transporting the production to South Africa, as the stage equipment and costumes weigh180 tons combined. Some 2 500 costumes and 250 pairs of shoes are worn by the crew.
Nearly 11.5-million fans across the world have had the opportunity of watching Saltimbanco since it began touring in 1992.
Message of peace
Cirque du Soleil, which is French for “circus of the sun”, was founded in 1984 by Guy Laliberte and Daniel Gauthier.
Productions are a mix of circus art and street entertainment.
“For me, Saltimbanco is a message of peace. In the 1990s, immigration and the mixing of cultures in cities was an issue and Saltimbanco reflects that mix, with all of its personalities and colours,” Laliberte said.
“It’s the challenge we have in today’s world: respecting each other, living and working together, despite our differences,” he added.
The show’s different acts reflect the various disciplines of circus entertainment and acrobatics. This includes adagio, where three acrobats use their bodies to make startling shapes; artistic bicycle, involving stunts on a bike; Chinese poles, which involves acrobats swinging from pole to pole; juggling, whereby an artist makes shapes from the objects he or she is juggling; and a Russian swing, where performers are catapulted into the air.
The entertainment company has 22 productions on the go at the moment, including Totem, which is a look at human evolution; Varekai, about a forest with fascinating creatures; Viva Elvis, an ode to Elvis Presley; Zumanity, a cabaret which explores human sensuality and Dralion, which is the fusion of eastern and western acrobatic styles.
Cirque du Soleil’s style has key characteristics such as creating imaginary worlds, using different dance styles, being daring in stunts and having highly skilled artists who perform with grace and agility.
SA concert promoter
Since being established in 1989 by Attie van Wyk, Big Concerts has become the premier South African concert promoter in terms of the type of artists it has drawn to the country.
It is the only African group to feature on the Pollstar list of the World’s Top 100 Promoters. Being 21st on the list attests to its world-class standards. It was also voted as South Africa’s best events company in The Star’s People’s Choice Awards in 2006.
Artists brought to South Africa by Big Concerts include Paul Simon, Duran Duran, Sting, Whitney Houston, Phil Collins, Bon Jovi, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, Elton John, U2 and the Spice Girls.
Although Big Concerts has had more than 20 years experience, during the recent tour by U2 it encountered problems with The South African Roadies Association, who claimed the firms involved in the tour had racist employment policies. The group threatened to picket outside the concert venues.
The association sent an open letter to the promoter stating: “The South African Roadies Association intends to mount a picket backstage at the U2 Johannesburg concert venue during U2’s visit to South Africa, to highlight the travesty and affront that such sponsorship and service use support of untransformed companies represents.”