I went to see Cirque Du Soliel way back in 2005 when it came to my home city of Perth to perform a show called Quidel. I think I paid around one hundred dollars, which was a lot of money at the time. It still is.
So imagine my delight when I found out this famous troupe has been putting on free shows in Quebec City for the past four years…
…and we were right on time for the opening night of their latest spectacular.
Check out the video:
Cirque Du Soliel has its roots in Quebec and the capital city of the province is its main training and rehearsal space. So why give their talents away for free?
Well, in the 1970s and ’80s some of the city’s leaders wanted their streets to be a bit more modern so they built huge office buildings and flyover highways. Like most visions politicians have, the locals hated it. But Cirque du Soleil saw an opportunity.
The flyovers are the perfect height to string up trapezes and the spaghetti junctions make perfect ampitheatres. Cirque du Soleil reclaimed these areas blighted by development for the people by putting on a free show for the public right under the highway called Les Chemins Invisibles. It has been a wild success and draws crowds from across the province and the world.
This year is the fifth and final chapter of the show and instead of being under the highway it’s moved to an outdoor theatre on the waterfront.
Les Chemins Invisibles tells the story of how the employees of an old customs officer decide to offer him a birthday present involving the awakening of a strange world in which he relives some of the greatest moments of his long life.
The fifth and final chapter of the work is called The Harbor of Lost Souls. You can see the highlights of the show in the short video at the top of this post but if you’re pressed for time here are three acts that took our breath away.
1. Double trapeze
These guys came out first and pulled themselves up to a bar suspended from a crane above the audience. They performed a synchronised acrobatic routine high in the air, mirroring each others’ movements with amazing agility. Then they started throwing each other through the air and catching hands with the narrowest of margins separating them. It was riveting to watch – no safety net!
2. The girl with the hoop
What an entrance! A strongman hauled a circus wagon to the very middle of the auditorium and out she came – gripping a hoop and dressed to kill. She was gorgeous and the moves she was able to perform while spinning and tumbling through the air were breathtaking. How she contorted her body into those positions is a mystery.
3. The daredevil tumbler
This was excruciating to watch. A shave-headed acrobat launched himself into what can only be described as a spinning contraption and terrified us all. He ran on the inside of two wheels as the great arm connecting them spun 360 degrees. Then he went to the outside edge and ran around their circumference; he even used a skipping rope for the fastest revolutions and almost fell at one point! This fearless dynamo got the biggest applause from the crowd who sighed with relief when he dismounted safely.
What you need to know:
Cost – The show is free. The venue can seat 5,000 so you should get a seat, though you can reserve a seat in advance for $20. Doors open 30 minutes before the curtain.
When to go – The show is on at 9.15pm until the 31st of July, then switches to 8.25pm until September 1st.
How to get there – Go to the port area in Quebec City and follow the signs. There’s lots of paid parking nearby though you can snaffle a free spot in the backstreets if you don’t mind walking.