Cirque du Soleil ( , "Circus of the Sun"), is a Canadian entertainment company, self-described as a "dramatic mix of circus arts and street entertainment." Based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and located in the inner-city area of Saint-Michel, it was founded in Baie-Saint-Paul in 1984 by two former street performers, Guy LalibertÃ© and Daniel Gauthier. Initially named Les Ãchassiers, they toured Quebec in 1980 as a performing troupe and encountered financial hardship that was relieved by a government grant in 1983 as part of the 450th anniversary celebrations of Jacques Cartier's discovery of Canada. Le Grand Tour du Cirque du Soleil was a success in 1984, and after securing a second year of funding, LalibertÃ© hired Guy Caron from the National Circus School to re-create it as a "proper circus". Its theatrical, character-driven approach and the absence of performing animals helped define Cirque du Soleil as the contemporary circus ("nouveau cirque") that it remains today. Each show is a synthesis of circus styles from around the world, with its own central theme and storyline. They draw the audience into the performance through continuous live music, with performers rather than stagehands changing the props. After financial successes and failures in the late 1980s, Nouvelle ExpÃ©rience was created â with the direction of Franco Dragone â which not only made Cirque profitable by 1990, but allowed it to create new shows.
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