Cirque du Soleil plans one-time-only Oscar piece

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By SANDY COHEN, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Aerialists, acrobats and contortionists from Cirque du Soleil are among the guests at this year's Academy Awards.

The three-minute performance at the Oscars on Feb. 26 will be among the international troupe's biggest yet, said Cirque du Soleil special events director Yasmine Khalil, featuring more than 50 artists. Most Cirque shows employ 75 to 80 artists over two hours, she said.

Cirque du Soleil has a Hollywood-themed show now at the Kodak Theatre, where the Oscars will be presented, but the performance for the awards telecast is "unique for this one evening" and not taken from any of the troupe's 22 productions playing around the world.

Performers from those shows, however, are heading to Hollywood. Khalil says artists from Japan and Russia are flying in to participate in the Academy Awards segment. After the Oscar show, the performance won't be presented anywhere again.

"The theme is very much in line with paying tribute to the movie-theater experience," Khalil said, adding it was different from "Iris," Cirque's show at the Kodak Theater, which is billed as "a journey into the world of cinema."

Like "Iris," the music for the troupe's Oscar performance was composed by Danny Elfman.

Cirque du Soleil troupes were reluctant to perform on television in years past "because we felt as though a lot of it got lost in translation," Khalil said, but they appreciated the way their performance came across in the 74th Academy Awards.

"That boosted our confidence knowing that we're comfortable in front of the camera," she said.

Khalil and the performers have been working on their routine since before Christmas.

"To capture 50 people jumping around everywhere from the ceiling and from the ground and right and left and center, it's a whole added challenge," she said.

That challenge extends to the viewers, too.

"They should be very attentive," she said. "You don't want to be blinking too much because you might miss something."

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AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen is on Twitter: www.twitter.com/APSandy .

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