August 16th, 2018

Visiting headquarters of Cirque was ‘awe-inspiring’

By Medicine Hat News on May 17, 2018.

Stan Ashbee

Special to the News

Montreal is home to the production workshops and international headquarters of Cirque du Soleil. The workshop is the only one of its kind in North America. Having the opportunity to explore Cirque headquarters is like winning a golden ticket into Willy Wonka’s scrumpdiliumptious candy factory.

Headquarters houses hand-created costumes and props needed for the various shows and world-renowned athletes hone their skills in state-of-the-art training facilities. I had a chance to visit headquarters last November in Montreal and the experience was truly awe-inspiring.

Cirque du Soleil’s Crystal is coming to Medicine Hat with a brand-new arena creation. Cirque du Soleil’s Crystal blends set design and costumes, which is one of frivolity laced with surrealism in a fantastical world of ice, according to Crystal’s official media release. Cirque du Soleil’s Crystal explores artistic limits of ice for the first time in the company’s 33-year history. This unique production pushes boundaries of performance by combining stunning skating and acrobatic feats that defy the imagination. Crystal will perform seven performances at the Canalta Centre May 23-27.

RELATED: Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Crystal’ promises to be a spectacular show

Did you know approximately 300 artisans of every description (including master shoemakers, milliners, textile experts, sewers, lace makers, carpenters, etc.) are employed full-time making the Cirque du Soleil props and costumes?

Statistically speaking, 16,000 or so items (hats, shoes, dresses, bodysuits, etc.) are created for Cirque du Soleil’s shows every year and it takes close to 50 kilometres of fabric just to make show costumes. Also, 80 per cent of the fabric required for the costume creation is originally white, before being dyed in the Cirque du Soleil workshop by the textile design team.

According to a Cirque media release, shoes are hand- and custom-made for all artists by the artisans of the Shoe Workshop. Approximately 1,200 pairs of shoes are produced by the workshop every year.

As for the Crystal show, all types of skates are used in the show including figure skates, ice dance, and hockey skates. Those used by figure skaters have toe picks for control and flatter blades, while hockey skate blades are curved for manoeuvreability and speed.

To achieve the look of many pairs of skates throughout the show, Cirque artisans created covers that zip on and off the skates and artisans behind the scenes have painted the covers to have the same look as the shoes.

Tickets for Crystal start at $35 and are on sale at, by phone at 1-855-985-5000 or in-person at the Canalta Centre box office.

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