people walking on stilts-world record set by Cirque du Soleil
MONTREAL, Canada -- Cirque
du Soleil has decided to mark its 25th anniversary
by inviting the people of Fortaleza (Brazil), Las Vegas (U.S.A.),
Lisbon (Portugal), Macau (China), Montreal (Canada), Nagoya
(Japan), New York (U.S.A.), Orlando (U.S.A.) and Tokyo (Japan),
as well as the population of Moscow (Russia), to gather on
stilts in their respective city to set the new world record
for the most
people simultaneously walking on stilts.
Photo: Close to 300 Cirque du Soleil cast,
crew and staff walked on stilts in front of Bellagio in Las
Vegas to commemorate the company's 25th anniversary.
It also invited people in Fortaleza (Brazil),
Las Vegas (Nevada), Lisbon, Macau (China), Nagoya (Japan),
New York, Orlando (Florida) and Tokyo to join in the experience.
The acrobatic troupe, created in 1984 and now
performing in all corners of the world, readied 900 people
to stride 100 meters (328 feet) on 33-centimeter (13-inch)
stilts in the streets of Montreal.
The stunt harkens back to the Cirque's origins,
when artistic force Gilles Ste-Croix walked 90 kilometers
(56 miles) on stilts in 1980 to convince the Quebec government
to offer him a grant to launch a stilt-walking troupe.
du Soleil set the first Guinness world record for
stilt-walking with 544 employees in 2004. Two years later,
a Japanese group beat it with 614 stilt-walkers and in 2008
a Brantford, Ontario team took the title with 625.
The circus company said staff at its Montreal
headquarters attended several "training sessions" in recent
weeks to get accustomed to walking on stilts in order to prepare
for Tuesday's event.
Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman and Orlando
Mayor Buddy Dyer, through official proclamations, named June
16, 2009 Cirque
du Soleil Day in their respective cities. Visitors
to The Strip in Las Vegas noted that Las Vegas Boulevard was
renamed Cirque du Soleil Boulevard for the day.
The Cirque officially celebrated its 25th
birthday. Twenty-five years ago, Guy Laliberté, its
founder, was a penniless stilt-walker and fire breather, who
turned a small troupe of street performers into the circus
powerhouse that has entertained 90 million spectators worldwide.
Laliberté is now a billionaire.
Laliberte, who's actually 49, announced
earlier this month he's withdrawing US$35 million from his
bank account to fly to the International Space Station in
a Soyuz spacecraft.
The 12-day journey, scheduled for liftoff on
Sept. 30, will make him Canada's first space tourist.
Laliberte has already started intensive training
in Russia, which keeps him busy five days a week. The Quebec
City native, renowned for throwing lavish parties, said he'll
be spending most of his weekends studying.
"It's tough, it's difficult, it's very demanding,
but it's totally new for me and I'm biting (at) that like
a new Popsicle," said Laliberte, who's worth US$2.5 billion
according to a recent estimate by Forbes magazine.
du Soleil now employs 4,000 people in 40 countries,
and is presenting 19 travelling and permanent shows. Cirque
du Soleil has brought wonder and delight to almost
90 million spectators in over 200 cities on five continents.
du Soleil has been the recipient of many prestigious
awards, including the Emmy, Drama Desk, Bambi, ACE, Gémeaux,
Félix and Rose d'Or de Montreux.
In 2009, Cirque
du Soleil will be presenting 20 shows simultaneously
throughout the world.