Cirque du Soleil, 1/4/2010

Cirque du Soleil never ceases to amaze. It is a grand spectacle, with international outposts and at least 20 shows currently running. Its job listing page can be translated into six languages, besides English—understandable, considering that the Cirque empire stretches over 5 continents. There’s plenty of work to go around; it features over 1200 performers, not to mention an army of barkers, technicians, choreographers, and musicians. In total, this circus, which is based in Quebec, has at least 4000 employees. Interesting that it’s also one of the most competitive hiring venues: one applicant complained that not only did the circus prefer to hire multilingual employees, but they also demanded peak physical condition and up-to-date experience. It may not sound so bad, but consider: you’re a contemporary dancer from the Middle-of-Nowhere Nebraska. Could you compete with this woman for a job? And, if hired, perform this routine nightly?

Granted, once you’re in, it’s probably wonderful. How many aerial contortionists do you know who get a fair, steady paycheck—and don’t have to teach? In many ways, it’s a performer’s dream. But it’s also a far cry from the rinky-dink circuses of yesteryear. Instead, it features “artistic entertainment.” Cirque du Soleil is a full, multimedia production. Their signature blue-and-gold big top doesn’t follow the small-town circuit. When the Cirque comes to town, it’s usually for the long haul—months at a time, with daily performances—or to set up permanent residence, as it has in Tokyo, Las Vegas, Berlin, and a few other cities. No elephants or sideshow standbys, either, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a fat lady anywhere. The Cirque breaks the mold in more ways than one.

And if you can barely touch your toes, much less say “Thank You” in German, you can always join the audience. (They’ve almost surpassed McDonalds, with over 90 million paying spectators.) Consider it research for your next getaway plan. (CRF)

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