Cirque du Soleil’s “Corteo” is a Must-See

Cirque du Soleil arrives for a weekend in Worcester, Massachusetts to the delight of audiences.


Amaya Turner, with permission from Cirque du Soleil

Performers in Cirque du Soleil’s “Corteo” at the DCU Center in Worcester, MA.

Amaya Turner, Editor-in-Chief

Cirque du Soleil has arrived in Worcester, Massachusetts to the delight of audiences. Telling the story “Corteo,” which follows Mauro the clown as he watches his funeral procession and revisits his life’s memories, Cirque du Soleil has once again created a magical experience for all ages.

“Corteo” has been enthralling audiences since it first premiered in Montreal in 2005, and since has toured internationally in 19 different countries. The name “Corteo” derives from “cortege” in Italian, which is a “joyous procession” as described on the show’s website, and references the story’s theme of a funeral procession.

The technical aspects of the show are nothing short of brilliant. “Corteo”‘s tour has 21 trucks that follow the show and the set alone takes 12-14 hours to build and set up upon arrival to a new location. From the massive hand painted curtains to the turntable stage, “Corteo”‘s set is an absolutely immersive work of art. For Worcester’s series of showings, set up began at 6:30 A.M. After the last show on Sunday, crew and cast will aim to break the set down entirely within 3 hours and 30 minutes. It is the company’s most automation heavy tour, with the capacity to fly up to six objects or performers at a time on a structure named the “Patience.”

“…I realized (Cirque du Soleil is) so similar to the army. You’re traveling all the time, you’re ready to go, you have good team spirit and a can-do attitude.”

— Senior Tour Director Michael Veilleux

“Cirque du Soleil” itself has roughly twenty shows from Vegas to Orland to touring shows. “Corteo” is currently the company’s largest touring show, with 110 people on tour and locations changing weekly. The show regularly draws audiences of thousands, which means for travel time and set up, Production Manager Ken Mills explains “failure is not an option.” Constant location changes means the constant need for work permits. Senior Tour Director Michael Veilleux mentions how, upon arriving in London days before performances were scheduled and finding the Prime Minister had left, they had to call government and ask for their work permit applications to be moved to the top of the list.

David Henderson, who performs on rotation in the “Tournik” and “Bouncing Beds” acts, shows just how hard performers have to work. He has been training in gymnastics since he was 12, and for “Corteo” trained for four months in Montreal. When asked for a fun story from working, he recalls a time the company had chartered a plane that had no fuel!

Veilleux reflects upon how he landed his job, drawing comparison between working for “Cirque du Soleil” and the army. “I was in the army, and I had just gotten out. This guy said ‘Do you want to come on tour with me?’ Things worked out, and I worked my way up. I realized it’s so similar to the army. You’re traveling all the time, you’re ready to go, you have good team spirit and a can-do attitude.”

That can-do attitude has become one of “Corteo”‘s most incredible aspects. “Corteo”‘s tendency to draw inspiration from imagination is what elevates it from a simple performance to true art. “Corteo”‘s celebration of life amidst death and the space that hovers in-between that dichotomy serves to create a fantastically new and wild world that the audience can still find home in.

The performers’ ability to submerge themselves in the whimsy and playfulness of their craft, while staying aware of both audience and fellow performers, takes a truly exceptional amount of resilience and dedication. From aerialists to jugglers, cyr wheelers to trapeze artists, every moment on stage builds a narrative and inspiring story of love for their work, and love for life.
Cirque du Soleil

“Corteo” runs at the DCU Center in Worchester from Thursday, January 12 until Sunday, January 15. It will also be appearing in Boston from June 8 through June 11, 2023. To follow “Corteo”‘s journey, follow the Cirque du Soleil Instagram.  To follow events at the DCU Center, follow the DCU Center’s Instagram. For student journalism, follow the nonprofit Headliners in Education.