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      Running off with the circus, or Cirque Du Soleil

      Columbia (WACH)--With eighteen trucks, fifty-five performers, and another fifty crew members, Cirque du Soleil will roll into town for several days of entertainment at the Colonial Life Arena, starting May 11th.

      The name means Circus of the Sun, and is described as a dramatic mix of circus arts and street entertainment. From a single Canadian show in the early 1980 TMs Cirque has grown to have a presence in over two-hundred seventy-one cites, with twenty-one different shows, including Alegria, the show that opens next Wednesday.

      Alegria, has been touring around the world for more than fifteen years, is currently in the middle of a three year North American tour. Although the name means Joy, the show has a darker tone than other Cirque shows.

      The show is about the struggle for power between generations, says Alegria publicist Genevieve Laurendeau, The old birds represent the old way of thinking, and on stage, you have the youth challenging the power.

      Audience members can expect to see dancing, singing, balancing acts, trapeze performances, clowns, and amazing costumes. The artists that perform with Cirque all have different backgrounds and are some of the most talented in the world, coming together from seventeen different countries.

      Some are Olympians, some are professionals, and are all highly skilled when they join the show, says Laurendeau.

      Even with the backgrounds and skills they have before they join, they can spend up to five months in training, learning how to express themselves, transmit emotion, and connect with the audiences.

      We transform these athletes into artists, says Laurendeau.

      There is also great attention to detail in the visual aspects of the characters. Each mask worn by an artist is a custom mold of the performer, and some of the costumes can take up to two hundred hours to create. With over hour hundred wardrobe pieces, Alegria alone employs four full-time people to maintain, clean, and repair the costumes worn by the performers.

      Not only does Cirque bring trucks, artists, and fun to the towns they visit, but there is also temporary employment created, hiring up to fifty local residents to help with unloading trucks, stage building, and serving as runners for the performers.

      Cirque du Soleil TMs Alegria show opens Wednesday, May 11th at the Colonial Life Arena, and has shows through Sunday, May 15th. For ticket information, you can log on to .

      (This story courtesy WACH Fox Good Day Columbia contributor Tyler Ryan .)