When the COVID-19 pandemic hit,  everything came to a screeching halt. Schools, restaurants, small businesses – the rhythm of daily life was put on hold for what felt like forever. The circus was no exception. Within 48 hours of the lockdown, Cirque du Soleil, the largest contemporary circus producer in the world, shut down all 44 of its shows and within a week had let 95% of its workforce go.  “In 2021, I got a call from MGM while we were still sort of in lockdown. They said that they had secured access to Cirque du Soleil’s flagship show “O”, and that the show was going to come back after the pandemic, but the kicker was, they only had eight weeks to get back onto the stage,” says Dawn Porter, director of Cirque du Soleil: Without a Net. “The performers had been out for more than a year. The stage hadn’t been touched for more than a year. There was a tremendous amount to do in a really short amount of time.” Just like the performers and staff at Cirque, Dawn and her team had to mobilize very quickly, moving down to Las Vegas where “O” takes place at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino. Everybody was scrambling to get ready for the show, Dawn and her team included. “Most of the interviews I was doing for projects were by Zoom, so I had to find people who would get tested, who would quarantine, so we ended up just moving a whole group of people there. We thought it’s easier for us to move people there and to just embed with them than to try and go back and forth on planes. We were like a MASH army unit,” says Dawn with a laugh. Ultimately, the effort made by both Dawn’s team and Cirque was well worth it. “There’s so few times in the world where the whole world understands what different entities are going through. I felt like everyone knew what was at stake for Cirque–people just wanted to get back to work. We all wanted to get back to normal,” says Dawn. “It felt like we all could root for them to try and make it back to the stage. What they do is incredibly difficult and dangerous. It’s all based on timing, so it’s not something that you can do a Zoom about. They had to be together. The project just felt like a really unique opportunity to remind people that sometimes there are some things we have to work together to accomplish.”