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Cirque du Soleil gets 2nd chance to win over China

Editor: Zhang Dan 丨CCTV.com

06-19-2015 17:16 BJT

By Tom McGregor, freelancer based in Beijing

The Montreal-based circus troupe, Cirque du Soleil, has enthralled audiences worldwide selling over 12 million tickets last year. Performers are recognized for wearing outlandish costumes, displaying amazing acrobatic skills while conveying an aura of hip, elegant and flashiness all rolled into one package. While other circuses prefer using animals as the stars of their shows, Cirque du Soleil promotes its acrobatics team for top-billing.

Cirque du Soleil gets 2nd chance to win over China

Cirque du Soleil gets 2nd chance to win over China

Cirque du Soleil utilizes different themes for each tour to appeal to younger audiences. Shortly after the death of pop-singer Michael Jackson, the troupe honored his memory with a show of amazing acrobats accompanied to his music. Chinese audiences loved it as venues were sold out nationwide.

The Canadian circus group plans to hold regular performances at a 1,400-seat theater in Huangzhou. The show will be called, ‘Toruk,’ based on the Hollywood blockbuster, Avatar, a film that grossed over US$ 200 million in China alone. Hence many may conclude that Cirque du Soleil can score big bucks, but that’s not guaranteed.

Losing a gambling bet on Macao

In 2008, Cirque du Soleil introduced a permanent performance at a 1,800 seat amphitheater in The Venetian Casino in Macao. However, the troupe had to shut down operations soon afterwards due to abysmal ticket sales. The entertainment company learned the hard way that the Chinese love to go gambling in Macao, but not to watch Las Vegas-style stage shows there.

Nevertheless if at first you don’t succeed then just try, try and try again. Cirque du Soleil is learning from its past mistakes to bring ‘Toruk’ to Huangzhou. The circus group’s CEO Daniel Lamarre disclosed that his company had conducted extensive research before returning to China.

“We are perceived as a very distinctive type of show,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “And it is my understanding of the market that the Chinese are looking for something new.”

But, why Huangzhou?

Huangzhou is located near China’s financial capital, Shanghai. Many young, upwardly mobile and Middle Class Chinese are moving to the rapidly growing city. Beijing is moving forward on developing cultural industries nationwide while local governments such as Huanghzhou have been granting favorable land development rights to companies that pledge to build theaters, theme parks and other such venues.

Meanwhile, Cirque du Soleil is working with Hollywood studio 20th Century Fox, the producer of Avatar, to showcase ‘Torku’ in Huangzhou, a cosmopolitan city where many of its residents can speak multi-languages and are known for travelling abroad. Accordingly, the unique style of the Canadian circus group can appeal to residents.

Fosun buys major stake in Cirque du Soleil

China-based insurance and finance conglomerate Fosun had teamed up with US private equity fund TPG to purchase a majority stake in the circus group. Fosun is expanding by investing into the entertainment, travel and healthcare sectors that are so important to Middle Class consumers. Economists have forecast that China’s Middle Class, with annual incomes between US$ 10,000 to US$ 37,000 could rise to over 600 million in less than 10 years.

Fosun Chairman Guo Guanchang told the Los Angeles Times, “The company’s investment in Cirque du Soleil was part of its strategy to promote happiness and well-being as a trend. The Chinese people are not supposed to just work very hard, but they should also enjoy life. What the future (Chinese) Middle Class lacks is quality content.”

Adding a Chinese touch to the circus

Cirque du Soleil can be a great match for China. The Canadian circus troupe loves to dazzle audiences with high-flying acrobats while its performers wear bright and colorful outfits, which appears to be remarkably similar to the Peking Opera. Some could call it the Westernized version of the traditional Chinese art form, since Chinese Opera performers display colorful attire along with skillful dance and acrobat moves. Here’s where East meets West on stage and coming soon to Huangzhou.


(The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )


Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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