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Big top raising signals Cirque du Soleil

DEL MAR — The circus has officially come to town. After days of meticulous preparation and mounting anticipation, the Kooza Cirque du Soleil big top was raised in less than two minutes Feb. 18.
“We’ve got the whole process down to a science,” said Jessica Leboeuf, assistant to the Kooza show’s general manager. “But that doesn’t mean it’s any less exciting when the big top goes up.”
The 18-piece yellow-and-blue-striped tent includes the Grand Chapiteau, also known as the big top. “It’s made to withstand up to four inches of snow,” Leboeuf said. “But with this weather we probably won’t have that problem.”
After seven days, the sprawling parking lot at the Del Mar Fairgrounds is now transformed into a circus village complete with a restaurant, school and resting area for the performers. “We are completely self-sufficient in terms of the infrastructure, except for water supply and internet access,” Leboeuf said.
The show employs local labor for many of the construction jobs. “We have at least 60 people we hired from this area to help with the preparations,” Leboeuf said. The workers cheered in unison as the big top was raised. “This is nice to see everything happen so quick and correct,” said John Sulley, a day laborer. “It’s a good team effort,” Leboeuf added.
This year, the ever-popular circus is going back to
the basics. According to Leboeuf, the focus will be on the “fine art of clowning, high-wire walks and contortionists.” Other favorites, such as juggling and the solo trapeze will have creative twists that are the hallmark for all Cirque du Soleil shows.
The show runs until March 21 when crews will begin the two-day process of packing up the circus village and moving to another town. “We love touring and seeing all of the different audiences enjoying the performances,” Leboeuf said.
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