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October 21, 2014

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Cirque 101: The ins and outs of the famous circus troupe

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Isaac Brekken/WireImage

Cirque du Soleil’s “Michael Jackson One” at Mandalay Bay on Tuesday, May 7, 2013.

A lot has changed since Cirque du Soleil emerged on the international entertainment scene in 1984 from a small Canadian village.

The company has spent the past three decades bringing high-flying acrobatics to cities across the world, building a net worth of more than $2 billion and a massive legion of fans.

But not everyone is familiar with the troupe. And even some fans might not know many details about the company.

How did Cirque du Soleil begin?

In the Canadian village of Baie-Saint-Paul, east of Quebec City, a theater troupe led by Gilles Ste-Croix entertained crowds by walking on stilts, juggling, dancing and breathing fire to musical numbers.

In 1984, as Quebec approached its 450th anniversary, provincial leaders needed an act to entertain the crowds. Guy Laliberte, the troupe’s founder, persuaded organizers to allow his performers to tour the province. That’s when Cirque du Soleil was born.

Where is Cirque du Soleil headquartered?

Montreal.

How many people are involved with Cirque du Soleli?

The company employs more than 5,000 performers, technicians and stagehands. The worker count for each show varies.

The Beatles-themed “Love” at the Mirage, for instance, has a cast of about 65. More than 50 percent of the performers have a background in gymnastics.

How many Cirque du Soleil shows are there?

There are 19 productions across the globe.

Alegria” tours in the United Kingdom, Poland, Spain, Romania, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Belarus and France. “Amaluna” tours North America, making stops in major cities such as San Francisco, Denver, Toronto and Vancouver, British Columbia. “Corteo” tours Brazil. “Dralion” tours France, Spain, Portugal, Qatar, Lebanon, Greece, Italy and Switzerland. “Kooza” tours Belgium, Russia and France. “La Nouba” is the resident show at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour” travels in Korea, China and Australia. “Ovo” tours Taiwan and Japan. “Quidam” tours North America and the United Kingdom. “Totem” tours Canada. “Varekai” tours Mexico.

There also are eight Cirque shows in Las Vegas: “O” at the Bellagio; “Michael Jackson One” at Mandalay Bay; “Mystere” at Treasure Island; “Love” at the Mirage; “Zumanity” at New York-New York; “Zarkana” at Aria; “Ka” at MGM Grand; and “Criss Angel Believe” at the Luxor.

What was the first Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas?

"Mystere." It opened in 1993 at Treasure Island and paved the way for a new kind of entertainment in Las Vegas.

How much do tickets cost?

They vary by show. Tickets for “Michael Jackson One” start at $125, while tickets to "Ka" run $225.

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