Québec circus artists have contributed a great deal to the rebirth of this art form around the world by creating an original contemporary approach. Result: Their influence can be felt from Australia to Europe, the United States and Asia.
The Québec circus arts tradition began in the 1970s when public performers first appeared on the street or in cabarets. In 1973, street performers created L’Enfant fort, the first circus group in Québec, which included Guy Caron, who has since played a major role in developing circus arts in Québec. Within that same decade, troupes featuring clown-dominated themes were created, such as Les Enfants du Paradis, which was co-founded by Gilles Maheu (Carbone 14), La Bebelle, the Théâtre de l'Aubergine (still active), La Ratatouille and Chatouille et Chocolat, to name just a few.
The founding of the École nationale de cirque in 1981, which was led by Jan-Rok Achard, and the arrival of Cirque du Soleil in 1984, which was founded by a troupe of street entertainers working with Guy Laliberté, had a ripple effect on the growth of the discipline. The Cirque du Soleil has now become a reference around the world. With annual revenues of up to about one billion dollars, this great institution, which has reinvented the modern circus, is now one of the largest entertainment companies in the world.
Québec troupes perform regularly on international stages at festivals, on tours and in permanent shows. Some of the better known troupes are :
- Der Cirque Éloize, which will set up shop in the fall of 2011 at the Théâtre National de Chaillot in Paris, where it will put on its show iD;
- les 7 doigts de la main, whose show Traces was a hit in France, will move next to New York City for 6 months. The company’s Fibonacci Project has toured Mexico, Spain and Scandinavia;
- Cavalia, an equestrian show, is still touring cities in Europe and the Americas after 6 years and over 1,500 performances;
- Cirque du Soleil, which has enjoyed an infinite number of international successes, especially in Las Vegas with innovative shows like O, an aquatic masterpiece, and Kà, a gravity-defying ode to acrobatics. It has also combined circus arts with emblematic figures of popular international culture in shows that pay tribute to the Beatles, Elvis and Michael Jackson.