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Cirque du Soleil: Fire Within

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First episode date

Lewis Cohen


Narrated by
Christopher Dyson

Final episode date
9 December 2002

Cirque du Soleil: Fire Within wwwgstaticcomtvthumbtvbanners220170p220170

Also known as
Fire WithinThe Fire Within

Written by
Lewis CohenCleo Paskal

Directed by
Lewis CohenBachir BensaddekJason Breckenridge

Kevin AthertonAndrew AthertonAshley BeaverGareth HopkinsRaquel Karro OliveiraOleg OuchakovOlga PikhienkoStella Umeh

Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Nonfiction Program

Solstrom, The Body Human, Cirque du Soleil: Midnight, Building the Great Pyramid, Carlton Your Doorman

Varekai s test audience fire within cirque du soleil

Cirque du Soleil: Fire Within is a 2002 Canadian reality television mini-series. The series follows eight Cirque du Soleil performers during the creation and production of the Cirque's touring production, Varekai. Stress ensues as several newcomers try to learn new acrobatic acts for the show, while the subplot also follows the crew behind the show trying to cast new performers, advertise the production, create the stage set, costumes, and make-up, and manage the show under the direction of newcomer Dominic Champagne.


Fire Within originally aired in thirteen 23-minute episodes weekly between the course of September 16 and December 9, 2002 on Bravo. The miniseries was filmed primarily in Montréal, largely at the Cirque du Soleil headquarters and the Old Port of Montréal, as well as New York, Dallas, London, Paris, and Sofia.


Fire Within maintained an ensemble cast of performers chosen to be a part of the original cast of Varekai. The camera crew documented not only these performers' work during production of the show, but also their personal lives which often got in the way of their work. The performers came from a variety of different backgrounds, some experienced Cirque du Soleil performers, and others not.

  • Oleg Ouchakov – a Cirque du Soleil veteran who joins the cast of Varekai to develop an acrobatic pas de deux with his dance partner, Tatiana.
  • Stella Umeh – an Olympic gymnast who joins the cast to perform in the triple trapeze, an act which she is unexperienced in.
  • Olga Pikhienko – a young contortionist who leaves Quidam to become a lead in Varekai.
  • Raquel Karro Oliveira – a skilled trapeze artist who is part of the triple-trapeze act with Stella.
  • Ashley Beaver – an acrobat who arrives to Cirque as a newcomer with his acrobatic partner Gareth to develop an Icarian games act.
  • Gareth Hopkins – an acrobat and Cirque du Soleil newcomer who arrives along with his acrobatic partner Ashley to develop an Icarian games act as well as the character of the "Lizard".
  • Andrew and Kevin Atherton – identical twin brothers who develop an aerial straps act for the show, as well as participate in much of the show's promotion.
  • Recurring cast

    Many artists and crew behind the production are featured throughout the mini-series.

  • Adrian Berinde — a Romanian singer hired as a primary singer, only to be laid off ten days before the premiere, having had difficulty settling into a role.
  • Dominic Champagne — Varekai‘s director and Cirque du Soleil newcomer.
  • Louise Mercier — head of the Cirque du Soleil marketing department.
  • Adrian Porter — Gareth and Ashley's acrobatic coach.
  • Boris Verkhovsky — Varekai‘s primary acrobatic coach.
  • Michel Laprise — a talent scount for Varekai.
  • Broadcast history

    Fire Within consists of thirteen half-hour episodes with commercials, originally premiering in the United States on Bravo in September 2002. The episodes were aired in the intended order weekly until December 2002 with the conclusion of the mini-series. A 23-minute cast reunion special was released on November 2, 2004 on the DVD release.


    Fire Within received positive reviews. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave an audience approval rating average of 93%. The website IMDb (Internet Movie Database) gave the mini-series an average score of 7.8 out of 10. Virginia Heffernan of Slate and Tim Goodman of SFGate both gave the series positive reviews.


    The mini-series won the 55th Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Nonfiction Program (Alternative), as well as two Gemini Awards.


    Cirque du Soleil: Fire Within Wikipedia

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