Cirque lays off 400 as operation juggles rising costs

MONTREAL Wed Jan 16, 2013 5:46pm EST

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MONTREAL Jan 16 (Reuters) - The Cirque Du Soleil, known for its high wire, fantastical shows worldwide, brought its employees down to earth on Wednesday with the announcement it was laying off 400 people, or 8 percent of its workforce.

One of Canada's best known exports, the Cirque said it was struggling with rising costs of its productions as well as the strong Canadian dollar, which has risen to par or higher against the U.S. dollar over the past few years.

The Cirque said it would lay off 400 of its 5,000 employees, despite posting record revenues of C$1billion and selling more than 14 million tickets last year.

"So we are now in the process of reviewing within the company worldwide all of our expenses, to ensure that we decrease them significantly," said Renee-Claude Menard, a spokeswoman for the company.

Based in Canada's French-speaking province of Quebec, the Cirque is often credited with redefining traditional circus entertainment. It has staged traveling shows worldwide, as well operating resident shows in Florida and Las Vegas where it has longer engagements.

(Reporting By Leila Lemghalef, writing by Russ Blinch, editing by Philip Barbara)

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