'''Cirque du Soleil''' (French for "Circus of the Sun") is a Montreal-based company. Initially mostly made up of street performers and/or acrobats, and organized by Guy Laliberté and Gilles Ste-Croix, its first troupe toured in 1984 (as part of the 450th anniversary celebrations of the discovery of Canada by the French). It was successful enough that a second tour ran in 1986, and a third, [[Theatre/LeCirqueReinvente ''Le Cirque Réinventé'']] ("Circus Reinvented") the year after that.

That particular troupe made a make-or-break visit to an arts festival in Los Angeles in 1987 and immediately became a sensation with its one-ring, animal-less format and a style more akin to European circuses than the Ringling Bros.-dominated format familiar to Americans. In essence, the Cirque aesthetic combines the theatrical, theme-driven concepts and characters of European shows with the focus on acrobatic skill of Asian circuses.

More tours followed with increasingly ambitious themes, visual concepts, acts, and music (most of the shows have original scores) as more performers joined from other countries. 1992's ''Theatre/{{Saltimbanco}}'' is generally regarded as the first "modern" Cirque show. The following year, casino mogul Steve Wynn had a theatre custom-built at his new Treasure Island hotel-casino in UsefulNotes/LasVegas for Cirque, which became home to the troupe ''Theatre/{{Mystere}}''. The company's growth and development progressed to the point that, in TheNewTens, the number of troupes performing somewhere in the world at any given time is in the double digits. Each one is unique, changing acts and performers over time but sticking to an individual thematic/artistic core.

Cirque is usually credited for reviving interest in circus entertainment in TheNineties, and from the TurnOfTheMillennium onward have also experimented in crossing the form over with other genres (JukeboxMusical, magic/illusion, concert, etc.).

Touring troupes visit major cities worldwide for visits of a few weeks to a few months each, usually under a custom-built big top, Le Grand Chapiteau (usually in Cirque's signature colors of blue and yellow). With the sheer number of shows now touring, the older shows have been adapted for arenas, expanding the company's reach to mid-sized cities and shorter engagements.

Cirque has made a variety of film and TV productions. For years, most were filmed performances of the touring shows, but original efforts derived from the shows and behind-the-scenes documentaries have come to dominate their output in TheNewTens (''Amaluna'' was the last show to be filmed). Several behind-the-scenes books have also been published, such as the 20th anniversary marker ''20 Years Under the Sun'', which helped flesh out this entry.

'''If you want to know about a specific show and its tropes, look to the CirqueDuSoleilIndex.'''

!!Common tropes in this company's work include:
* AllThereInTheManual: The themes, plots, and significance of various characters of many of the shows are not openly spelled out ''in'' the shows, but in souvenir programs and at the official website.
* AmbiguousGender: Many of the costumes and makeup evoke this on purpose to make the performers/characters seem more androgynous.
* AudienceParticipation: Most of the shows have this to some extent.
* AwardsShow
** In 2002, cast members from various troupes [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7_O6l8YwDI performed]] at the UsefulNotes/{{Academy Award}}s to introduce (naturally) the [[VisualEffectsOfAwesome Best Visual Effects]] category.
** In 2008, the cast of ''Theatre/TheBeatlesLOVE'' teamed up with the cast of ''Film/AcrossTheUniverse'' for the Grammys' tribute to Music/TheBeatles and/or Music/JohnLennon.
** The cast of ''IRIS'', Cirque's show about the history of cinema, performed at the 84th Academy Awards in 2012. (This was easy to do, since the show's home base was the Dolby Theatre, where the Oscars are held; the show was commissioned to occupy the theater the rest of the year.)
* CashCowFranchise: As an example, ''Saltimbanco'' was retired from the lineup after the initial tour ended in 1997, but revived the following year and performed until 2012. Guy Laliberté made enough money from this enterprise that he paid the Russians to let him go into space in 2009.
* ClockPunk: ''KURIOS.''
* CommediaDellArte/ {{Pantomime}}: The legacy of the Commedia (and the related Harlequinade) essentially form the beating heart of their entire ethos. You don't have to scratch their stories, scenarios or characters too hard to find a very familiar set of patterns and themes.
* CostumePorn: The book brought out to mark the company's 25th anniversary was about the costumes of all the shows over the years, which should tell you how much this trope applies to them.
* CutSong: When old acts/transitions go, so do their songs, so many a soundtrack (usually recorded within a year or two of the opening) has a fair amount of material that's no longer in the show.
* TheDanza: Most clowns and sometimes serious characters, though the latter are less likely to retain the name after their original performer/namesake leaves.
* DisneyOwnsThisTrope: The company tried suing a FollowTheLeader rival for using the word ''cirque'', which is just the French word for ''circus''. It didn't work.
* DownerEnding: While the shows typically have happy endings, only occasionally presenting bittersweet ones, the TV series ''Solstrom'' has a few episodes that end with downers. "Wind of Freedom" is an example: [[spoiler: the convict who's the viewpoint character is the only one who doesn't escape the prison and thus he never sees his sweetheart again]].
* TheEveryman: If the show has a central character, there's a good chance (s)he will be this.
** Better yet: [[BilingualBonus In French]], ''Quidam'' means more or less "everyman", and the protagonist eventually concludes he is really "every man", "any man".
* EverythingsBetterWithSparkles: The Firefly Boy in ''KA'' is a particularly obvious example, but to quote a comment from the trope itself, "27.84% of ''every'' Cirque show is glitter."
* EverythingsBetterWithSpinning: Most shows have at least one act that invokes this trope; common ones include aerial hoop, (hula-style) hoops and/or manipulation, bolas, Chinese meteors, and German wheel.
* FollowTheLeader: Imitations of this company's style exist, such as the output of the U.S.-based Cirque Productions (unsuccessfully sued for using "Cirque" in its name). Can qualify as TheMockbuster when one considers that these shows usually travel to places that don't usually, if ever, get actual Cirque tours...
* HotterAndSexier: ''Zumanity'', the adults-only show.
* ImpracticallyFancyOutfit: '''Averted.''' No matter how elaborate a costume is, it is designed for maximum functionality and safety for its wearer's act. Cirque is a pioneer in ''Practically'' Fancy Outfits.
* JukeboxMusical: ''LOVE'', ''Viva Elvis'', and the two Music/MichaelJackson projects are all variants on this genre: the original recordings of the performer(s) in question are used and visually interpreted by the troupe through acrobatics and dance.
* LetThereBeSnow: ''Wintuk'' revolved around a boy's quest to invoke this trope when winter arrives in his city but without the usual snow.
* LighterAndSofter: ''Wintuk'', to the point that it was accused of being dumbed down for families.
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters: Quite a few shows are just bursting with odd folks; many are not even named in the program and may appear just as colorful extras.
* LongRunners: ''Alegria'', ''Quidam'', ''"O"'', ''La Nouba'', ''Dralion'', ''Varekai'', ''Zumanity'', ''KA'', and ''Corteo'' passed the 10-year mark; ''Saltimbanco'' performed off-and-on (mostly on) for a little over 20 years. ''Mystere'' has been running nonstop since 1993; if it closes in 2016, when its current contract with its host hotel expires, it will have managed 22 years.
* MagicalLand: Most of the shows take place in a version of this.
* MonsterClown: Villainous/enigmatic characters can invoke the visuals and behavior associated with this trope (i.e. Fleur in ''Alegria'').
* NiceHat: Nice hats show up a ''lot'' in Cirque. Some are even magical.
* NoFourthWall: Most of the shows have this; usually key to the clown acts.
* NonIronicClown: This company is one of the great employers of true clowns.
* OpeningBallet: Many shows open this way to introduce the major and minor characters, as well as the setting.
* RealityTV: The development of ''Varekai'' was the basis for the documentary series ''Fire Within''.
* {{Retool}}: As noted above, acts and performers change with time, but some shows have been severely revamped for other reasons: to make them LighterAndSofter, to give the audience more of what they expect going in (''Criss Angel Believe'' dropped its acrobatics in favor of more magic tricks), etc.
* TheRival: In the U.S., the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, especially once Cirque put its older shows on the arena tour circuit. Ringling Bros., which almost always performs in arenas, is the epitome of traditional circus and uses animals, something Cirque eschews with the exception of doves in ''Believe''. Ringling presents three different tours that are each revamped with a new "edition" every one-to-two years, as opposed to Cirque shows being unique, stand-alone productions that can run indefinitely.
** Well, looks like one model won out: Ringling Bros. deciding to wind their whole group up basically means that animal circus performance is officially going the way of dancing bears in the US, at least. It's been on the cards for a while.
* SceneryPorn: The resident shows are crazy about this; the tours are pretty too in smaller-scale ways.
* SetSwitchSong: Often used for transitions from one act to another, especially when equipment has to be set up and/or taken down.
* TheShowMustGoOn: Despite horrible critical reception, shows such as ''Criss Angel Believe'' and ''Banana Shpeel'' continued to perform -- the latter, after being burnt by the press in its Chicago tryout, went through its ''second'' retool to go on to New York as planned and after ''that'' was unsuccessful, attempted a North American tour. Only its poor reception in Toronto, its first stop, brought the show to an end. As for ''Believe'', it had a substantial {{Retool}} that dropped most of the Cirque-based elements and is still running.
** On the other hand, from day to day this trope is averted -- despite the general consensus that the circus will go on stage no matter what the circumstances, Cirque stops its shows if there is an accident involving technology or their personnel. After the fatal fall suffered by a ''Theatre/{{KA}}'' performer on June 29, 2013, not only was the show stopped, but all performances of it were cancelled for several weeks before reopening with the disastrous act in question excised. The scene was later readded, albeit with all the performers ''projected'' on the wall, until the end of 2014 when it was formally restored to its original staging.
* SilenceIsGolden: Many of the shows keep to this tenet.
* SingingSimlish: The majority of original Cirque songs use this if they're not going for BilingualBonus, although ''Amaluna'''s soundtrack album has English versions of the songs "Come Together", "Hope", "Burn Me Up", and "Run".
* {{Slapstick}}: Whenever the clowns appear, this is bound to be part of their schtick in the great traditions of both circus and clowning.
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism: At worst, Cirque shows take place in worlds where you can and must EarnYourHappyEnding. At best, life is ''incredibly'' hopeful and beautiful.
* SlidingScaleOfVisualsVersusDialogue: Firmly on the visual side.
* SmallReferencePools: Not everyone in the company is French-Canadian or French, but you'd never know it from the jokes and spoofs tossed around, which also overlap with ShallowParody and RedundantParody in that very, very few mockeries acknowledge that the shows have a sense of humor, instead presenting them as strictly parades of pretentiousness.
* SomethingCompletelyDifferent: Most of the Vegas shows since ''Mystere'' put a significant twist on the usual formula in staging and/or thematic focus -- ''"O"'' uses water as a performance medium and setting, ''Zumanity'' is adults-only, etc. ''Zarkana'' is an exception to this, though it folds in RockOpera for its score, owing to the fact that it wasn't originally created for Vegas.
* SpeakingSimlish: "Cirquish", the fans call it. Also appears in songs.
* TheStinger: The TV series ''Solstrom'' has one of these at the end of every episode, followed by the scientist looking into the camera and saying "You want some more?"
* TarotMotifs: ''[=ZED=]'' was based around these.
* TricksterArchetype: Most of the shows have at least one variety of this as a character (possibly one of the clowns), to the point that a key character in ''KOOZA'' is ''named'' Trickster.
* UnderTheSea: ''"O"'' is a pun on the French word for water, ''eau'', but to truly see (or sea) this trope in action, there's the "Deep" sequence in ''KA'', the "Octopus's Garden" number in ''LOVE'', "Bridge of Sorrow" in ''Delirium'', and the "water bowl" in ''Zumanity'' and ''Amaluna''.
* VarietyShow: ''Zumanity'' and ''Banana Shpeel'' are presented in this style (as deliberate throwbacks to cabaret and vaudeville, respectively).
* WalkingShirtlessScene: A good number of the male performers, though it's hardly surprising considering their physiques.
* WidgetSeries: The concept applies to the company's output as a whole, and even more so to ''Solstrom''.
* WorldOfHam: As circuses tend to be hammy by design, most Cirque shows take place in one. (''Quidam'' is the most obvious exception to the rule.)