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28 April 2008

Cirque du Soleil - Corteo

or a lesson in customer service.

"We live in an often sad and baffling world.  I remember my grandmother used to tell me never to look at the floor, only look up. Corteo is a show that looks up."

Daniele Finzi Pasca, Creator and Director


So yesterday we had tickets to the circus. 

The Minx was extremely excited and all dressed up in her posh red velvet frock, though she had no idea what a circus was. We had been keen to take her to see it because, since the beginning of the year, she has been attending Seattle's famous and fabulous 'circus school' where even at the age of three she has been learning basic acrobatics, trampolining, trapeze work, tightrope walking, juggling and balancing on balls.

We were very excited because we had already seen two Cirque du Soleil productions (Saltimbanco and Alegria) in London and knew that we were in for the most amazing treat.

I printed off our emailed tickets, and we were all ready to jump in the car, when I happened to glance down at said (very expensive) tickets and realised that they were for Saturday's performance, not Sunday's.  I suspect you can imagine how I felt, particularly when I looked down at my terribly excited little girl.

On the off-chance, we phoned up their customer service helpline to see if there was anything they could do. They were able to ascertain, using their extremely high-tech ticketing and barcoding system, that we had indeed not attended the day before and then said, 'I'm afraid we have to remind you that tickets are non-refundable'.  Oh well.  'But we're going to let you have some comp tickets for this evening's performance.'  If they hadn't been on the other end of a phone line we would have kissed them then and there. 

As it is we are even bigger fans than we were before and I feel I owe it to them to blog about it at least.  GO RIGHT THIS MINUTE AND BUY TICKETS FOR CIRQUE DU SOLEIL.


So what do you get for your money? Firstly, as I mentioned, the tickets are expensive, but they also represent the most incredible value for money.  Everything about the experience is perfect, from the ticketing and customer service helpline, to the carparking arrangements and huge Dr Seuss coloured big top.

As we took our seats, clowns were performing in the aisles and huge ghostly chandeliers could be seen through the semi-sheer scrim. The Minx was both mesmerised and overwhelmed by the noise and spectacle.

And then lights went on behind the scrim and we could see a clown on his deathbed with angels flying up above and a crowd forming his 'corteo' or cortege. And then began a celebration of the clown's life.


We saw ladies of the night spinning and swinging from sparkly chandeliers (which delighted the interior design obsessed part of my soul); kids bouncing on beds; clowns riding bikes in the sky; upside down tight rope walkers; and little people flying round the big top carried by helium balloons.  I love how Cirque du Soleil both represents the very best in modern circus technology, but also carries on the old circus traditions with nods to commedia dell'arte, gypsy folklore and  vaudeville.

The music is all original and fabulously sung and performed, including symphonic whistling from the ringmaster and a woman who plays the gypsy violin behind her back.  The costumes and lighting were sensational, the set and props amazing and the attention to detail is extraordinary. Every single member of the large cast is a master of his or her art.

After being initially somewhat nonplussed the Minx got right into the swing of things and kept shouting 'wow' very loudly, and was so inspired that during the intermission she treated a small crowd gathered outside to an exhibition of fantastical dance moves and many views of her undergarments. (I have realised that I am so not a stage mother, as I find such exhibitionism cringingly embarrassing). Very cutely though, she cried when it was over because she didn't want the circus to end.

And so closed an evening that was not only a hugely inspiring feast for all the senses, but also hugely inspiring from a business perspective.  Cirque du Soleil is as close as it gets to a perfect customer experience.


All images scanned in from the programme.  I so wished I could have taken my camera.


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Smart, smart people to treat customers like this. ( I can see you read Seth's blog too. He's been saying these kinds of things all along.)

As much as I despise Las vegas, i got to see Mystere and O there and it was truly unforgettable.

Ah! No wonder we couldn't find you anywhere on Saturday's performance -- halfway through Act I, Moon yelled out, "Minx! Where are you?!?"

So glad they treated you so well, and that your time was magical. I loved the design on this one - those chandeliers, and so much of the costuming this time around. Just wow. Also loved catching that one of the girls-on-lights was also the female singer later in the show. Just grand.

This is on my list of things to do before I die and what fantastic customer service.

Yes, yes, yes! I especially love Corteo.

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