In each of the cities where Cirque du Soleil performs its touring shows, a certain number of tickets are given to local non-profit organizations so that their clientele can see our shows for free. In 2011, more than 20,000 tickets for big top shows and over 30,000 tickets for arena shows were given out in this way.
The Saltimbanco arena tour had the honour of being the first Cirque du Soleil show to set foot on the African continent. While the show was in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Saltimbanco troupe met young instructors from the Durban social circus initiative as well as theatre students from the Market Lab Theatre, who attended the show and had the opportunity to talk to artists. When the show visited Cape Town, young artists and coaches from the Zip Zap Circus—a long-standing partner of the Cirque du Monde program—were able to visit the artists of Saltimbanco, who then returned the visit to their premises a few days later.
Later in the year, when the show visited Estonia–another first for Cirque—the Saltimbanco troupe also organized a circus workshop with 90 orphans from Tallinn. The group then came along to watch a performance of the show.
In Greensboro, North Carolina, members of the Alegría technical crew held a question and answer session with a group of students and lecturers at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA). These undergraduate and postgraduate students from the School of Design and Production at UNCSA are specializing in sound design, stage automation, costume and prop creation and technology, lighting, and stage and performing arts management.
The Quidam troupe welcomed a dozen or so children from the MicMac Native Friendship Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. As well as enjoying the show, these young people were able to learn a few acrobatic acts—including how to form a human pyramid—from the Quidam artists who became coaches for the occasion.
In Seoul, South Korea, Varekai held a circus workshop for troubled young people. A group of 15 young people from the 1318 Happy Zone Rainbow organization, which helps disadvantaged young people, took part in the workshop which offered percussion, juggling and clowning activities. These young people also got to enjoy an informative backstage tour and to perform their newly acquired knowledge on the stage of Varekai, in front of members of the show’s troupe.
The Corteo team also hosted circus workshops, including one in Vienna, Austria, where it welcomed members of Divadlo z Pasáže, the Theatre from the Passage—a Slovak community theatre that has established its own education system using the arts aimed at people with intellectual disabilities. In Spain, two workshops for young people were organized in collaboration with local social circus partners. Students at the Escuela de Circo Carampa circus school in Madrid and young people and coaches from the Adsis Foundation in Valencia, chatted with Corteo artists and tried their hand at different circus disciplines with our artists. Finally, while the show was in Paris over the holiday period, the Corteo troupe was visited by a group of children with cancer and a group of children taking part in a social circus project, for a special celebration that included a performance of the show.
Still in Paris, Corteo set up an eco-friendly shuttle service to facilitate transportation for its visitors. As the big top was on Île Seguin—a pedestrian-only site—cycle taxis known as Cyclobulles were hired to take mobility-impaired spectators to the show.
The KOOZA team of contortionists went to the Cirque du Monde site in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, and spent the day with young people at the Save the Children community centre, where program workshops regularly take place. Cirque du Monde has been established in Mongolia for a long time and has two centres in the capital as well as several other programs in Choibalsan in the remote province of Dornod. Originally from Mongolia themselves, the contortionists from KOOZA took time out to talk about their life on tour and to give a display of their acrobatic expertise, before becoming spectators themselves and watching a demonstration of the circus skills these young people have gained as a result of their involvement with Cirque du Monde.
In Mexico, the OVO troupe was delighted to welcome a group of young people from Machincuepa Social Circus—a Cirque du Monde partner in Mexico—to take part in a circus workshop at the show site. The young people were also able to take a backstage tour. Two students from the OVO school—where the idea is to pass on to others what you have learned yourself—took the opportunity to share their knowledge with the young people of Machincuepa. The school also invited the group to have a meal with them on the terrace, before taking part in a joint artistic project and outdoor games.
The TOTEM team was delighted to invite participants of the Horizons for Youth program—a community organization in Toronto that cares for disadvantaged and homeless young people—to a series of workshops held at the show site. Cooking, acrobatics and props workshops were held as part of this jam-packed half day.