Cirque du Soleil has extended its tenth London season by two-and-a-half weeks at the Royal Albert Hall. Alegria, which opened last night (5 January 2006), had been scheduled for a limited season to 29 January but will now continue until 12 February 2006 (See News, 29 Sep 2005).

The award-winning Canadian circus company, which was established in Quebec in 1984 by a troupe of street performers, presents Alegria for the third time in the UK (it was previously seen in 1998 and 1999), following a sell-out tour in Japan.

Taking its name from a Spanish word for jubilation, Alegria features Cirque du Soleil’s trademark blend of spectacular acrobatics, aerial acts, dramatic lighting and elaborate set design. It’s performed by an international cast of 56 performers and musicians from 13 countries.

Since its conception, Circue du Soleil has grown to employ over 3,000 people presenting shows in more than 100 cities on four continents. At one point, the company had plans to build a permanent London home on the site of the derelict Battersea Power Station, where they've previously played to capacity crowds in their "Grand Chapiteau" big top. The Battersea plans were abandoned in December 2001. More recently, they have been named in connection with planned redevelopment of Leicester Square (See The Goss, 24 Mar 2003).

Cirque du Soleil’s previous hits at the Royal Albert Hall have included Dralion and Saltimbanco. Alegria is directed by Franco Dragone.

- by Caroline Ansdell