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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Canadian circus company Cirque du Soleil will invest a record $57 million in a new show in Moscow next year to test the ground before launching a permanent show in Russia by 2015, its president said on Monday.
"Zarkana" is Cirque du Soleil's first new show in Russia and will be the most expensive non-permanent show the company has ever made to date, Daniel Lamarre told reporters.
The Montreal-based company said the $57 million it would invest in the highly acrobatic show is significantly more than the $30-$50 million it was previously eyeing for all of Russia.
"Zarkana, for us, is a test to see if the market can bear a permanent show," Lamarre said.
"(The show) will tell me much more about the clientele in Moscow. If we have the success that I think we will have, this will definitely confirm the means for a permanent presence."
The 26-year-old Cirque du Soleil came to Russia two years ago and is now in the three Russian cities of Moscow, Kazan and Saint Petersburg. It will add the Urals city of Yekaterinburg later this year.
Lamarre said Russia, which has a long history of circus, is the company's fastest-growing market.
"We have never developed a market at the pace we are doing in Russia right now, which is much more encouraging than I thought when we first came in," Lamarre said.
Cirque du Soleil, which says a fifth of its 1,000 artists are from Russia, is banking on the country's love for circus and the arts for it to prosper.
"The response from the previous two shows was amazing, the best we've seen anywhere else in the world," its vice chairman Craig Cohon told Reuters.
"The Russian audience really gets the art of the cirque... I am confident the permanent production will be a success here," he said.
Zarkana will premiere at the Kremlin Palace in February 2012 and run for nine weeks.
Reporting by Nastassia Astrasheuskaya, editing by Paul Casciato