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December 20, 2012

CES Provides Cirque du Soleil Performers With Tenants' Rights Info as Show Closes and Jobs Are Lost

CES Exec Dir Larry Gross (center) & Bet Tzedek Attorney Patricia Van Dyke (right) With Some of the Cirque du Soleil Acrobats, Dancers, Contortionists After Providing Them With Tenants' Rights Information

At the time many people are preparing to enjoy the holidays, the magnificently talented performers of Cirque du Soleil's show "Iris" are unfortunately facing the loss of their jobs. It was recently and unexpectedly announced that the show would be closing on January 19, 2013.

In addition to losing their jobs, a number of Cirque performers are also facing some real- life Grinches this Christmas.

The performers believing, as most expected, that "Iris" would be running indefinitely, signed long-term rental leases with landlords. Faced with having to relocate as a result of the show's closing they are now dealing with landlords who will not let them out of their leases and are demanding thousands of dollars from the artists.

A Cirque du Soleil management official contacted the Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) seeking assistance for the soon to be jobless and displaced employees.

Cirque du Soleil Performer Practices Backstage

CES was prepared to offer help and reached out to Bet Tzedek Legal Services who was more than happy to help CES in providing legal advice and assistance to the artists.

On December 18, CES Executive Director Larry Gross and Bet Tzedek Legal Services Attorney Patricia Van Dyke conducted a Tenants' Rights Clinic at Hollywood's Dolby (formerly Kodak) Theater for about 20 acrobats, dancers, contortionists and technical stage workers of Cirque du Soleil. The performers were from Russia, Slovakia, Canada, Sweden and other states in the U.S.

In these types of circumstances apartment leases are not iron clad in California. While a landlord has the legal right to hold a tenant responsible for the remaining months of rent, the law only allows the landlord to exercise this right within reason.

It is always best to try to work it out with the landlord. Tenants in this situation should attempt to provide their landlord with a written notice of their intent to leave as soon as possible.

The California Civil Code requires landlords to mitigate their damages if a tenant attempts to break a lease early. The landlord must "reasonably" avoid damages. Therefore, if they could find a tenant who meets the landlord's screening criteria, the landlord is effectively obligated to approve the new tenant, thus removing the obligation of the moving tenant to pay the remaining rent on the lease.

Show Props & Costumes Backstage

CES and Bet Tzedek told the Cirque artists that they would continue to assist them in efforts to secure a remedy.

After the tenants' rights seminar, Gross and Van Dyke was given an exclusive back stage tour.

When "Iris" opened in September 2011, it was expected to be a permanent fixture in the heart of Hollywood, It's closing is another economic blow to LA's economy adding to the loss of jobs and revenues.

Show's Control Room

"Iris" was one of the most ambitious productions in Cirque's history. Written and directed by Frenchman Philippe Decoufle with original music by the film composer Danny Elfman, the spectacle surveyed the history of movies from the silent era to the present day.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the company said it will "redeploy as many of our artists and employees as possible to other Cirque du Soleil projects." "Iris" employed almost 70 performers along with 100 to 120 other individuals, including technicians and support staff.

IRIS from Cirque du Soleil - A Journey Through The World of Cinema

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