(Reuters)- Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte, is set to become the world’s seventh, and Canada’s first, space tourist.
Here are five facts about Cirque du Soleil, the colorful entertainment company he founded and owns.
* Started by 20 street performers in small-town Quebec in 1984, Cirque du Soleil has grown into a global business with more than 4,000 employees. Known for their outrageous costumes and makeup, its artists come from 40 countries and speak 25 languages.
* Their acrobatic feats have drawn more than 90 million spectators, with the company’s trademark blue-and-yellow tent hosting touring shows in 200 cities
* This year Cirque du Soleil will present 19 shows around the world, including an “adults-only” cabaret-style production in Las Vegas.
* Fire-breathing stilt-walker turned billionaire, Laliberte, aged 49, owns 95 percent of Cirque du Soleil. The private company boasts that it hasn’t received any grants from the public or private sectors since 1992.
* Laliberte’s talents aren’t just in circus acts, he now is a professional poker player.
Reporting by Nina Lex; editing by Peter Galloway