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A very ‘KA’ Thanksgiving

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Cirque du Soleil performers find time for a traditional holiday celebration in between performances.
Photo: Ryan Reason
Katrina Concepcion

In Las Vegas, the bustling holiday season finds entertainment at its peak, and every Thanksgiving weekend, droves of locals pack the theaters along the Strip. On Thanksgiving, the cast and crew of Cirque du Soleil’s are technically “working,” but before the theater fills, they take a moment to give thanks with their second families and indulge in an American-style feast.

Each year, beginning at 2 p.m., a local catering company sets up a traditional Thanksgiving turkey spread for the 250 people who make possible each night (and yes, there are vegetarian options, too—some of the athletes keep very strict diets). “It’s part of the ‘well-being budget’ of the shows,” explains Marie-Hélène Gagnon, ’s artistic director. “It’s important to show people they are not just workers.” Dinner is over by 6 p.m., in time for cast members to get in makeup and costumes by showtime.

Gagnon describes Cirque as a way of life, where casts are tight-knit families and celebrations have always been part of the gig. ’s talent includes artists from China, Japan, Russia and Australia, but they all partake in the American tradition every November. “Even if the company didn’t do Thanksgiving, everyone would bring in something,” Gagnon says, “and we would still make it happen.”

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