Cirque du Soleil is a Canadian entertainment company and the largest contemporary circus producer in the world. Located in the inner-city area of Saint-Michel, it was founded in Baie-Saint-Paul on 16 June 1984 by former street performers Guy Laliberté and Gilles Ste-Croix.
Originating as a performing troupe called Les Échassiers, they toured Quebec in various forms between 1979 and 1983. Their initial financial hardship was relieved in 1983 by a government grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to perform as part of the 450th anniversary celebrations of Jacques Cartier's voyage to Canada. Their first official production Le Grand Tour du Cirque du Soleil was a success in 1984, and after securing a second year of funding, Laliberté hired Guy Caron from the National Circus School to recreate it as a "proper circus". Its theatrical, character-driven approach and the absence of performing animals helped define Cirque du Soleil as the contemporary circus that it remains today.
After financial successes and failures in the late 1980s, Nouvelle Expérience was created—with the direction of Franco Dragone—which not only made Cirque du Soleil profitable by 1990, but allowed it to create new shows.
Cirque du Soleil expanded rapidly through the 1990s and 2000s, growing from one show to 19 shows in over 300 cities on six continents. The company employed 4,900 people from 50 countries and generated an annual revenue of approximately US$1 billion in 2017. The multiple permanent Las Vegas shows alone play to more than 9,000 people a night, 5% of the city's visitors, adding to the over 100 million people who have seen Cirque du Soleil productions worldwide.
Highest paying job titles at Cirque du Soleil include Social Media Manager, Marketing and Communications Manager, and IT Security Analyst