The Show Must Go On: How Cirque de Soleil Survived China’s Lockdown

For the Canadian firm’s newest troupe, keeping the show running through 2020 has been a monumental challenge — especially as several key acrobats are stuck outside China.

ZHEJIANG, East China — Even by circus standards, the past 12 months have been a wild ride for Cirque de Soleil’s newest troupe.

Last August, the Canadian entertainment company launched its first resident show in Asia in years — a lavish production titled “X: The Land of Fantasy” — in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou.

At the time, the premiere appeared to herald the start of a new era for Cirque, whose global showbiz empire already encompassed over 40 shows. China’s live events market was booming, surpassing 20 billion yuan ($2.9 billion) for the first time in 2019. Foreign franchises from “Mamma Mia!” to “Cats” were filling arenas across the country.

Then, COVID-19 happened.

The global lockdowns decimated the entertainment industries in China and across the world. By March, Cirque de Soleil had halted its entire roster of shows and laid off over 90% of its staff. Its Chinese adventure appeared to be on shaky ground.

Yet, somehow, the company’s new Hangzhou-based show has survived. It’s now one of only two Cirque productions operating worldwide.

The improbable feat owes much to the deep pockets of “X”’s Chinese backers, but also to the ingenuity of its cast. With key artists stranded overseas, the troupe faced a herculean task keeping the show on the road.  Continue to read the full article here


– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.