Culture / Entertainment

Cirque du Soleil to Make Its Long-Awaited Return in Houston — An Exclusive Video Look at the Behind-the-Scenes Preparation

These Aerial Artists Are Becoming Even More Daring

BY // 09.20.21

The familiar blue-and-yellow big tops are coming back to Sam Houston Race Park in November, bringing the return of Cirque du Soleil’s whimsically reimagined show called Alegría: In a New Light. This signature Cirque show was cut short in March 2020 due to the pandemic and now Paper City has an exclusive first look as these aerial artists return to performing for the first time. In Houston.

Check out the exclusive behind-the-scenes video above this story. 

Houston has always been an anchor city for Cirque du Soleil productions, and since it was the last to host the show, Francis Jalbert, senior tour publicist Alegria, Cirque du Soleil, argues that’s exactly where the high-flying show deserves to get off the ground again.  

“We are excited to be opening back in Houston where it all stopped for us on Alegría in March 2020,” Jalbert says. “To be able to bring the artists back on stage in Houston and give the opportunity to our local fans to see the show as they were meant to prior to the global pandemic sends a beautiful message of hope and resilience.

“Which are two central themes of Alegría.”

The reimagined Alegría: In a New Light features a cast of 53 acrobats, clowns, musicians and singers telling the story of a once-glorious kingdom that has long lost its king, and the power struggle at play between the old order and a new movement seeking change in hopes of a brighter tomorrow. 

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Cirque celebrated the 25th anniversary of Alegría in 2019, but rather than doing a “copy and paste of the original 1994 production,” Jalbert notes every component was reexamined to speak to new generations while maintaining the soul and emotions of the original show. Jalbert promises plenty of surprises, regardless if audiences goers have seen the original show, or are Cirque newcomers. 

The pandemic provided Cirque creators an opportunity to create new high-flying stunts. (Photo by Marie-Andrée Lemire)
The pandemic provided Cirque creators an opportunity to create new high-flying stunts. (Photo by Marie-Andrée Lemire)

The pandemic downtime provided an opportunity for Cirque creators to redesign parts of the show, pushing the already jaw-dropping acrobatic elements, which are hallmarks of every performance, to new levels. 

“We decided to take advantage of the show’s hiatus to rethink some of the acrobatic elements featured in Alegría for it to come back even stronger than when it paused in 2020,” Jalbert says. “Most notably, a new dynamic Flying Trapeze act will now be closing the show with daredevil aerial stunts never-before-seen under a Cirque du Soleil Big Top.”

Even though Cirque artists had no idea when they would be called back to the big top, these aerial athletes stayed in shape at home until they were called back to the International Headquarters in Montreal. The Alegría cast has been rehearsing since late August in anticipation of returning to Houston and will continue rehearsing locally throughout October and November before the show opens Friday, November 13. 

“The cast energy is amazing. They are pumped to be back in action, to be reunited as a touring family and to be going back on stage shortly,” Jalbert says. We are looking forward to the first performances, to hear audiences cheer again and to hopefully bring them joy and escapism.” 

Tickets to Alegría: In a New Light are on sale now and available here. The production will run from November 13 through December 12 at Sam Houston Race Park. 

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