Québec Comes First
But the founder of the Cirque - Guy Laliberte - has never forgotten his Québec roots. Many shows are first performed in Montréal before going on tour - and other special little Cirque treats pop-up on the Québec cultural landscape from time to time.
I happened to stumble on two such items last weekend; and they were both pretty cool.
The theater is set-up under a freeway overpass in downtown Québec City, and each night for two months you are invited to come watch an hour long, no-holds barred, Cirque du Soleil production.
On Saturday I was lucky enough to catch this summer's final performance of Chemins Invisibles. Except for 150 $15 seats, it's all standing room only - first come, first served - and free. And since so much of the action takes place in the air - there's no need to worry if you're standing behind someone tall. Performances begin at sundown and are always packed.
And no sooner had I returned to Montréal than I discovered another little slice of Guy Laliberte's artistic genius. Located in the heart of downtown is the Place des Arts - home to a wide variety of cultural performances year-round. And just adjacent to the main theater is an outdoor display area which is currently featuring 30 giant photographs of Earth taken from outer-space. And can you guess who took these photos?
Yep - they were all taken by Guy Laliberte himself on his recent trip into Earth orbit aboard a Russian spaceship. He paid $25 million dollars for the experience, and to help publicize his charity, The One Drop Foundation.
The outdoor photo exhibit is beautifully arranged, with dreamy musical accompaniment from speakers above the photos - and it too is completely free. Each photo is exquisite and comes with a geographical description and technical details on camera type and film. As I strolled through the exhibition, I couldn't help but reflect on the depth and quality of Québec's artistic contribution to the world. It really is astounding.
It's a province of only 7 million people - but her impact on the artistic world is out of all proportion to her size. And Cirque du Soleil and Guy Laliberte are a big part of that impact.