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Cirque Du Soleil - Comprehension Questions

Read about a circus and answer some questions. Learn some vocabulary and pronunciation. Listen to the reading. Is the article enthusiatic and positive? VISIT WEBSITE Read the comments

YouTube Lesson


  1. Read the text through with your teacher to generally understand. Speak about the text and ask about any new words etc., Play taboo on each paragraph. The words marked like this may be the most interesting.
  2. Look at each question and locate line numbers in the text that relate to each question.
  3. Choose your answer carefully. The incorrect answers may be wrong for different reasons.
    1. There is no direct reference to this statement in the text. (They may even be true but we can only guess)
    2. They contradict the text.
    3. They are partially true but not completely true.
    4. They are not relevant to the question.

Cirque du Soleil - A Little Circus Can Make it Big

Paragraph 1

Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! Step right up to Cirque du Soleil, the greatest...well, one of the greatest shows on earth. You'll thrill to the sight of a single circus ring that has never been marked with the hoofprint of a wild beast.. You won't see packs of elephants stand on their heads, but you will be awestruck by the multiple talents of performers who play clowns and then transform themselves into acrobats, trapeze artists and jugglers. You won't see an alligator tamer wrestle with the jaws of death, but you will be treated to the spectacle of two tango dancers concluding their romance with an amazing hand-balancing act. And you'll gasp as a tightrope walker strides across the wire while playing a haunting theme on the oboe.
Aligator Tamer Contortionist

Paragraph 2

Easily as compelling, if not more so, is the body-bending act by contortionist Elena Lev of Russia (Cirque du Soleil has a penchant for what could be seen as physical extremism), who twirls a batch of golden metal hoops around herself. Other acts of jaw-dropping expertise include a bare-chested aerialist who twirls a giant cube in mid-air, and Andrei Lev's Flying High Bar Act, seven Russians who do their whizzing flips dangerously close to the top of the circus' blue and gold tent.

Paragraph 3

At the heart of the Cirque du Soleil is the desire to combine acrobatics with refined acting perfectly designed everything. Wailing music, dramatic lighting, elaborate costumes, strange images and mystical themes, meshes into a spellbinding whole, Cirque du Soleil's productions are entertainments without comparison which have a charm all of their own.

Paragraph 4

This relatively new troupe has captured the imagination of audiences around the world by replacing circus pomp with up-close, unusual thrills and surprises. In a comparatively tiny 1, 754-seat tent, one lone Cirque trapeze artist can stop heartbeats by swooping just a few feet above the heads of spectators, without a net. "Because you're so close," said one satisfied customer, Sandy Willis, 21, "you can see their facial expressions, beads of sweat and their muscles tensing up. You feel like you're part of the performance.

Paragraph 5

Troupe member Debra Brown sees other reasons for the show's success: "usually a circus has spectacle but no heart, or intellect but no risk. What's exciting about this one is that it has a balance." Brown, 33, a former coach for the Canadian Olympic gymnastics team, carefully plans every move in the ring. "When you think of dance, you think of people on two feet," she says, "but my choreography explores four feet because of the way acrobats use their hands."

Paragraph 6

Founder and director, Guy Laliberte, a college dropout whose mother is a pianist and whose father is a vice president of an aluminium company, was once just another itinerant musician, fire-breather, stilt-walker. He honed his skills in Baie Saint Paul, an artists colony 55 miles northeast of Quebec City where street performers congregate each summer. "I came up with our name,' he says , "when I was looking in a dictionary of symbols and saw 'soleil, sun.' It means youth, power, freshness. Everything was there. I just knew at that moment that we would be a success."

Body-bending contortionist


Stilt Walkers


Magical Mystery Tour

Cirque du Soleil

The questions

  1. The Cirque du Soleil is a different kind of circus because:
    1. of the number of different acts
    2. the animals which perform are treated humanely
    3. of how dangerous the acts are.
    4. there are only human performers who often have more than one skill

  2. The Cirque du Soleil includes an act where someone:
    1. spins a large ball
    2. throws knives whilst blindfolded
    3. plays music whilst on the trapeze
    4. manipulates her body in unbelievable ways

  3. The Cirque du Soleil has made a big impact partly because:
    1. the audience gets to know some members of the circus personally
    2. of the colours of their costumes
    3. they involve members of the audience in the acts
    4. of the proximity of the audience to the acts

  4. Debora Brown believes
    1. The Cirque is more exciting than other circuses
    2. the essence of the Cirque is planning
    3. she has more scope for creativity than a normal choreographer
    4. her background as an Olympic coach is essential in her present work

  5. Guy Laliberte
    1. always knew he would end up in a circus
    2. got a poor college degree
    3. initially was a fairly typical circus performer
    4. seems to owe his success to his parents

  6. He chose the name for the circus because
    1. he associated the sun with success
    2. it had all the characteristics symbolised by the sun
    3. he only wanted young people as performers
    4. of a previous experience at an artists colony

  7. The reviewers attitude to the Cirque du Soleil is
    1. quite sarcastic
    2. essentially positive with one or two minor criticisms
    3. unreservedly enthusiastic
    4. largely neutral and objective

YouTube 4

More Questions

  1. Which word from paragraph 2 most closely relates to gasp and awestruck
  2. What is the difference between a tame animal and a trained animal?
  3. Acrobats.
  4. Find two adjectives describing music.
  5. Trapeze.

Cirque du Soleil Vocabulary

For each of these words from the text: Explain the meaning and give an example sentence. and say what parts of speech they could be. Note: Some words can have more than one part of speech. Eg: Gasp

  1. awestruck (Compare to the verb To strike (past = I was struck by)
  2. gasp
  3. haunting
  4. penchant
  5. twirls


  1. trapeze noun n [C] a short bar hanging high up in the air from two ropes, which acrobats use to perform special swinging movements
    A glamorous couple performed on the flying trapeze.
  2. trapeze artists acrobat noun n [C] a person who entertains people by doing difficult and skilful physical things, such as walking along a high wire
  3. juggle verb ( ENTERTAIN ) [I or T] to throw several objects up into the air, and then catch and throw them up repeatedly so that one or more stays in the air, usually in order to entertain people
    We all watched in amazement as he juggled with three flaming torches.
  4. mace noun ( ROD ) /me??s / n [C] a decorated rod that is carried by or put in front of particular public officials as a symbol of their authority
  5. wild - tame
  6. wail verb /we??l / v [I or T] mainly disapproving to make a long, high cry, usually because of pain or sadness
    The women gathered around the coffin and began to wail, as was the custom in the region.
    [+ speech] "My finger hurts, " wailed the child.
    [I] informal to complain loudly or strongly
    [+ that] Business people wailed that their trade would be ruined.
  7. itinerant adjective / adj [before noun] travelling from one place to another, usually to work for a short period
    an itinerant journalist/labourer/preacher
  8. stilt noun /st@fishlts / n [C usually plural] one of a set of long pieces of wood or metal used to support a building so that it is above the ground or above water
    The houses are built on stilts to protect them from the annual floods. one of two long pieces of wood with supports for the feet which allow you to stand and walk high above the ground
    to walk on stilts
  9. honed his skills - sharpened his skills
  10. aluminium noun / n [u] UK (US aluminum) a light metallic element which is silver in colour and used especially for making cooking equipment and aircraft parts
    an aluminium saucepan
    Cover the fish with aluminium foil and cook over a low heat.
    We take all our aluminium cans for recycling.
  11. sharpen verb ( ABLE TO CUT ) v [T] to make something sharp or sharper
    My pencil is blunt - I'll have to sharpen it.
    figurative The company is cutting production costs in an attempt to sharpen its competitive edge (= in order to improve how competitive it is).
  12. hone verb ( MAKE SHARP ) v [T] to sharpen an object The bone had been honed to a point.
  13. gasp

Recorded Lessons



Just like its title, Zumanity brings with it a world of
This performance is much more than your average Cirque du Soleil show which is usually bright,
, and family friendly. Zumanity will open your eyes to a
side of human culture that is normally suppressed and unexplored. Zumanity tackles this delicate subject matter very tastefully. unlike most Cirque du Soleil shows, Zumanity is set in an
theater that
stage. Zumanity also steps away from the circus-like performance that you might expect and takes on the feel of a
The performers, who have a range of characteristics, are
and at times even a bit strange.
The concept behind Zumanity focuses our attention on our
and ways in which humans may have feelings similar to wild creatures which are usually kept hidden away in our civilised societies. Zumanity, like all other Cirque du Soleil shows, displays amazing physical skill. One act, entitled "Waterbowl" is a beautiful display of two women swimming simultaneously in a round tank. They twist and turn their bodies, weaving in and out of each other like two eels trapped in a tiny fishbowl. Intensity builds until the final act, when characters appear from all parts of the theater to play, laugh,
, and tease the audience towards the climax of the act. You will be left with the feeling that you are not unlike these creatures from Zumanity.

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