It's worth noting that Cirque du Soleil's founder Guy LaLiberte was allegedly firebreathing on the street when Circus Oz had brought its full-scale indoor show to the Los Angeles Olympic Arts Festival. The implication is that Circus Oz was part of the inspiration for the formation of Cirque Du Soleil. Circus Oz has retained its performer-centric values and ideals and continues to make a show with only a dozen multi-skilled performers who all perform the entire show, doing 'a bit of everything', from acrobatics and clowning to music and aerial work. The skills are high-level circus, but the show is usually very funny and character-driven. The cast is a diverse mix of body shapes and ages, with an equal number of men and women.
Their style is generally cheeky, anarchic and subversive, with enough strong women and graceful men. Significantly the performers devise the work themselves and the creative ownership is, in practise, shared between Circus Oz and the performers. As the ensemble turns over new material is developed around each new performer. The values of the company theoretically allow each performer to play to their strengths and the show evolves based on a collaborative approach. The company have an ongoing social justice agenda and have generally been open about supporting humanitarian causes.
Over the years this has included women's rights, land rights for indigenous Australians and a strong opposition to the Howard government's mandatory indefinite detention of asylum seekers. In late 2007 the Howard government were removed from power by the Australian people. Circus Oz has performed in twenty six countries across five continents including 4 seasons on 42nd Street in New York City, a number of seasons at Queen Elizabeth and Royal Festival Halls in London, a refugee camp in the West Bank, indigenous communities in the Australian desert and a glass opera house in the Brazilian rainforest. Over two million people have seen the company perform, and the show has been translated into dozens of languages – from Hindi to Danish. The troupe has broken box office records at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and represented Australia at scores of international festivals.
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