Photos: Cirque du Soleil unicycle duo performs free shows at iconic spots across Philadelphia

On Tuesday, June 5, Marie-Lee Guibert and Philippe Bélanger, a unicycle duo from Cirque du Soleil, performed a free, 10-minute show in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It was one of four performance locations across the city.

During most hours of the day, it’s not an easy feat biking by the crowded area in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Take away one bike wheel and add a person standing on your shoulders, and the challenge becomes much more difficult.

On Tuesday, Cirque du Soleil performers Philippe Belanger and Marie-Lee Guilbert brought out their unicycle for a free, 10-minute performance that made this undertaking look easy. Cruising around on one wheel, Belanger balanced an often upside-down Guilbert who performed an array of tricks overhead, drawing a small crowd to form around them.

Beyond the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the two Canadians ventured to three other iconic city landmarks (LOVE Park, City Hall, and Independence National Historical Park), delivering short shows at every spot. The public display was designed in preview of their upcoming Cirque du Soleil show, VOLTA, which swings through the area July 12 and runs through August 5 at the Big Top next to the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks.

“Beyond maintaining balance, you have to keep a conversation flowing with the audience,” says Belanger, who notes that performing outside also brings the added challenge of different surface textures. “It’s like ping pong — when people react and smile, you work off of that.”

Tickets for the upcoming VOLTA performance can be purchased online at cirquedusoleil.com/volta.

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Cirque du Soleil performers Marie-Lee Gulibert and Philippe Bélanger warmup before a free public performance in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Tuesday, June 5.
Camera icon GRACE DICKINSON / STAFF
Initially meeting at the Quebec Circus School, Guilbert and Bélanger have performing together for eight years.
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While Bélanger reports that maintaining balance is the most challenging part of their performance, not once has he dropped Guilbert in the eight years in which they’ve collaborated.
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Marie-Lee Guilbert sails above her partner, Philippe Bélanger, in a performance outside of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in preview of the upcoming Cirque du Soleil VOLTA show kicking off July 12 at the Big Top next to the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks.
Camera icon GRACE DICKINSON / STAFF
Guilbert, from Canada, notes that one of her favorite parts of being in Cirque du Soleil is the ability to travel to so many different places. This is her and Bélanger’s first time in Philadelphia.
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Guilbert and Bélanger perform on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in preview of their upcoming role in Cirque du Soleil’s new VOLTA show.
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The LOVE sculpture was one of four iconic stops, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Independence National Historical Park, and City Hall, on Guilbert and Bélanger’s tour on Tuesday.
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Bélanger cycles Guibert around the LOVE sculpture while tourists snap photos beneath the iconic landmark.
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Guilbert and Bélanger perform in the streets on their way from LOVE Park to City Hall.
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Guilbert and Bélanger cruise through the fountains at Dilworth Park before quickly being forced to stop when a security guards relayed that bicycling is not permitted in the area.
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The last stop on Tuesday lay at Independence National Historical Park. A small crowd gathered as the two put on a quick five-minute show.
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Guilbert and Bélanger are part of Cirque du Soleil’s new VOLTA show, which heads to the Big Top next to the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center on July 12 and runs through August 5.