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Creators

  • Guy Laliberté

    Founder and Creative Guide

    Guy Laliberté was born in Québec City in 1959. An accordionist, stilt-walker and fire-eater, he founded Quebec's first internationally-renowned circus with the support of a small group of accomplices. A bold visionary, Guy Laliberté recognized and cultivated the talents of the street performers from the Fête foraine de Baie-Saint-Paul and created Cirque du Soleil in 1984.

    Guy Laliberté was the first to orchestrate the marriage of cultures and artistic and acrobatic disciplines that is the hallmark of Cirque du Soleil. Since 1984, he has guided the creative team through the creation of every show and contributed to elevating the circus arts to the level of the great artistic disciplines.

    Cirque du Soleil has become an international organization, as much in terms of its makeup as in the scope of its activities and influence. Guy Laliberté now heads an organization with activities on five continents.

    In October 2007, Guy Laliberté entered into a second lifetime commitment by creating the ONE DROP Foundation to fight poverty around the world by providing sustainable access to safe water.  This new dream stems from the knowledge that the right to water is key to the survival of individuals and communities all over the world and from the values which have been at the heart of Cirque du Soleil since its inception:  the belief that life gives back what you have given and even the smallest gesture will make a difference.

    In September 2009, Guy Laliberté became the first Canadian private space explorer.  His mission was dedicated to raising awareness on water issues facing humankind on planet earth. Under the theme Moving Stars and Earth for Water, this first Poetic Social Mission in space aimed at touching people through an artistic approach: a special 120-minute webcast program featuring various artistic performances unfolding in 14 cities on five continents, including the International Space Station.

    Main Awards and Distinctions
    In 2012, Guy Laliberté was inducted into the American Gaming Association’s Gaming Hall of Fame. In 2011, he became one of the inductees of the Canadian Business Hall of Fame. Guy Laliberté was awarded his very own star on the legendary Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2010. In the same year, the Quebec government honoured Guy by promoting him from Chevalier (a distinction granted six years earlier) to Officier as a member of the Ordre de la Pléiade. Université Laval (Québec) awarded an honorary doctorate to Guy Laliberté in 2008. The year before, Guy Laliberté took the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for all three levels: Quebec, Canada and international. In 2004, he received the Order of Canada, the highest distinction in the country, from the Governor General of Canada.  The same year, he was recognized by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. In 2003, he was honoured by the Condé Nast group as part of the Never Follow Program, a tribute to creators and innovators. In 2001, he was named a Great Montrealer by the Académie des Grands Montréalais. In 1997, Guy Laliberté received the Ordre National du Québec, the highest distinction awarded by the Government of Quebec.

    Other awards and distinctions

    2009
    Lifetime Achievement Award granted by the Canadian Marketing Association

    2002
    Induction to Canada’s Walk of Fame

    1998
    Visionary Award granted by the American Craft Museum (now the Museum of Arts and Design in New York)

    1996
    Vision nouvelle award received at the 43rd Gala du Commerce (Quebec)

    1988
    Personality of the Year, Gala Excellence La Presse (Quebec)

    1988
    Entrepreneur of the Year, Les Affaires magazine (Quebec)

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  • Gilles Ste-Croix

    Artistic Guide

    When Gilles Ste-Croix first told his parents he wanted to go into show business they said “Anything but that!” Ste-Croix grew up in rural Quebec, but he was determined not to stay there. He became a hippie and a nomad, living in communes and making the obligatory ‘60s pilgrimage to the West Coast where he lived in communes and audited some drama classes.

    Ste-Croix did try to conform, even working in an architect’s office for a while, but he knew in his heart that he wasn’t cut out for a conventional business career. At the same time, his search for a vocation was not in any way aimless or vague. He says that from his teens he always had a strong drive to succeed and an equally strong desire to entertain. However his entrée into show business came about in a most unusual and unpredictable way.

    In the late 1970s Gilles Ste-Croix was living in a commune in Victoriaville, Quebec, picking apples to make money. One day he mused that the job would be a whole lot easier if he could attach the ladder to his legs—and devised his first set of stilts.

    A friend happened to mention the Bread and Puppet Theater in nearby Vermont, which used stilt-walking as the basis of many of its performances. Ste-Croix went to see the company and realized that his apple-picking skills might actually be in demand in the wider world of entertainment.

    In 1980, Gilles Ste-Croix and a band of street artists founded the Échassiers de Baie-Saint-Paul and organized a street performance festival called the Fête foraine de Baie-Saint-Paul, which would eventually lead to the founding of Cirque du Soleil with Guy Laliberté in 1984.

    In 1984 and 1985, Gilles Ste-Croix designed and performed many stilt acts for Cirque du Soleil. In 1988, he became Cirque's Artistic Director, as well as coordinating a talent search that extended to the four corners of the globe.  He was Director of Creation for all of Cirque du Soleil's productions from 1990 to 2000: Nouvelle Expérience, Saltimbanco, Alegría, Mystère, Quidam, La Nouba, "O", and Dralion.  In 1992, he directed Fascination, the first Cirque du Soleil show presented in arenas in Japan. He also directed the groundbreaking 1997 dinner/cabaret show Pomp Duck and Circumstance in Germany.

    In 2000, while continuing to act as a consultant for Cirque du Soleil, Gilles Ste-Croix decided to realize one of his greatest dreams: Driven by his passionate interest in horses, he founded his own company to produce the 2003 show Cheval-Théâtre, which featured 30 horses and as many artist-acrobats under canvas and toured ten cities in North America.

    Since December 2002, Gilles St-Croix returned to Cirque du Soleil as Vice-President of Creation, New Project Development. In July 2006 he was nominated Senior Vice-President of Creative Content.

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  • Criss Angel

    Star, Writer and Director

    Criss Angel has single-handedly brought about a major resurgence of magic in popular culture. Today, Criss is recognized as one of the most provocative artists in the world. He first became interested in the art at the age of seven. As an adolescent he studied mysticism, music, martial arts and dance and two of his biggest influences were Aldo Richiardi and especially Harry Houdini.

    Criss emphasizes the importance of establishing an intimate relationship with the audience. "Houdini was a pioneer in a lot of ways," he says. "When he performed his straitjacket escape in front of enormous crowds, people identified with him. They felt that if he could escape from a straitjacket maybe they too could escape from their constraints and achieve their dreams. Like Houdini, I like to create moments of wonder. Magic is an art that should provoke and touch people."

    In 1994 Criss made his prime-time television debut in the ABC special Secrets. In 1998 Criss Angel: World of Illusion headlined Madison Square Garden's annual Halloween spectacle. The sold-out 12-day run attracted an audience of over 80,000. His next major project, 600 performances of his critically acclaimed Criss Angel Mindfreak brought a new kind of entertainment to Broadway.

    In October 2002 the television special Criss Angel Mindfreak debuted on ABC Family channel, in which Criss submerged himself – chained and shackled – in a 220-gallon water torture cell. His third one-hour television special, Supernatural, aired on the Sci Fi Channel.

    The undisputed master of street magic, Criss Angel is currently the star and creator of the A&E Network series Criss Angel Mindfreak which premiered in 2005. The illusions have included walking on water, levitating above the Luxor Hotel, floating between two buildings, making a Lamborghini vanish and cutting himself in half in full view of an audience. Mindfreak is the most successful magic show in television history. With it Criss has performed more hours of primetime magic than anyone in history. Criss has received numerous awards and is the first five-time recipient of the coveted Magician of the Year Award (2001, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008). Criss has also recently been named "Magician of The Decade" by the International Magicians Society.

    "With CRISS ANGEL Believe, the live show experience will be unlike anything that anybody's ever seen before," says Criss. "It's an experience that truly represents the magic of emotion that members of the audience can connect with and reflect on in their own lives. The images on stage will ignite responses that cause people to reflect – and I think that's the truest form of magic. This show brings to life beyond my wildest dreams an original concept that I created over 15 years ago."

    Criss Angel was born in Long Island, New York.

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  • Serge Denoncourt

    Director

    Serge Denoncourt is known as a true man of the theatre with more than 80 productions to his credit, but he was planning to study medicine when he decided at the age of 18 to audition for the theatre program at a Montreal college called CEGEP Lionel-Groulx. He was accepted, and when he graduated in 1983 he started his career as an actor. In 1987 he demonstrated his inventiveness as a director for the first time, with the play Grand et Petit, by Botho Strauss.

    Cofounder of the Théâtre de l'Opsis in 1984, he has explored the great classics: Molière, Corneille, Gorky and the modern repertoire – Botho Strauss, Bertolt Brecht, Howard Barker – with equal interest. In the Chekhov cycle produced with Opsis in 1999, he added bits and pieces of the actors’ conversations and musings during rehearsals to the Russian author’s text of The Seagull to create the highly acclaimed Je suis une mouette (non, ce n'est pas ça), an original play that carried on a dialogue with itself and with today’s theatre.

    He breathed new life into the Théâtre du Trident in Quebec City as the company’s Artistic Director from 1994 to 1997. He directed several Quebec plays, notably Les Feluettes (2002) by Michel Marc Bouchard, which he remounted at the Espace GO 15 years after its creation.

    Serge Denoncourt is steeped in theatre tradition and known for the visual beauty of his shows, which are typically marked by heightened imagery, vivid use of color and a deep examination of subtext. A versatile artist, Serge also stages operas and even delves into the world of variety shows: He directed the Italian quick-change artist Arturo Brachetti’s show, developed the artistic and visual concept of a show by the Italian singer Eros Ramazzotti and in 2003 re-mounted the Quebec musical Pied de Poule that he first directed in 1991. The same year he was the acting coach for three episodes of the Cirque du Soleil TV series Solstrom.

    With CRISS ANGEL Believe Serge has sought to return a sense of nobility to magic. “I don’t like magic shows in general,” he says. “They lack emotion and any sense of a storyline. I took on CRISS ANGEL Believe from the position of one who doesn’t like those kinds of shows because they treat magic as an end in itself. My aim here is to take magic – and Cirque du Soleil – in a completely different direction.”

    Serge Denoncourt was born in Shawinigan, Quebec in 1962.

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  • Pierre Phaneuf

    Director of Creation

    Pierre Phaneuf seemed destined for a business career before hearing the call of communications and theatre while attending college. He began studying communications at the University of Ottawa, but switched to the theatre department a month later. Impatient to evolve in the milieu of professional theatre, he left university after two years to work as an actor, production manager, stage manager and assistant to the director for companies in Ottawa and northern Ontario. During an assignment at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, he had a decisive encounter: he connected with the director André Brassard and decided to settle in Montreal.

    In 1986, Pierre Phaneuf earned his degree in production of the National Theatre School (NTS), which marked the beginning of a long love affair with the theatre. As a production manager or director, he worked with major companies such as the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde and the Théâtre de Quat'Sous, in Montreal. In 1990, Guy Laliberté, founder of Cirque du Soleil, offered Pierre the position of deputy director general, which he accepted. But two years later, keen to broaden his experience, he kept up with the world of theater and took in a great deal of theatre, dance and opera in Montreal and abroad. In 1994, he became the production manager of the Opéra de Montréal, and the following year, he assumed the leadership of the production program of the National Theatre School, a role he held for six years, working alongside such prominent figures in the world of Quebec theatre as André Brassard, Monique Mercure and Elizabeth Bourget.

    Pierre Phaneuf rejoined Cirque du Soleil in 2000, this time as tour director of Quidam, Varekai and Saltimbanco. Wanting to settle in Montreal, he accepted the position of senior director of tour operations, and then assistant vice president, performance quality In January 2008, he was appointed vice president, creation at Cirque du Soleil.

    "At Cirque du Soleil, the director of creation seeks to maintain and protect the creative spirit," says Pierre Phaneuf, “to preserve the creative process, which is organic and non-static. The degree of freedom we offer creators is enormous. We must accompany them to unknown territories, frame their approach and ‘set fires’ in controlled circumstances so they can excel.”

    CRISS ANGEL Believe is Pierre Phaneuf’s first Cirque du Soleil assignment as director of creation. "At Cirque, we are never far from our original goal to push our borders. This is also the case with CRISS ANGEL Believe. Criss Angel has a very sharp sense of adventure and risk. LUXOR marks Cirque’s first foray into the field of magic. Like the circus, magic is a source of wonder, amazement and the unexpected. We must put aside reason and surrender completely to the intensity of emotion."

    Pierre Phaneuf was born in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, in 1960.

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  • Christiane Barette

    Associate Director of Creation

    Everything in Christiane Barette’s background predisposed her to a career in the arts. Born into a family that placed a premium on artistic expression, culture and the interaction of ideas, she became – at a very early age – interested in classical music, reading and theatre, and spent a lot of time exploring museums and art galleries.

    After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in translation from the Université de Montréal, Christiane studied political science at the Université du Québec à Montréal and then pursued her interest in the history of art and Italian culture.

    Christiane Barette was attracted to the circus aspects of street performance and joined the National Circus School in Montreal, where she worked as director of marketing and communications for seven years. She then moved to Holland, where she made her living researching artists on behalf of private companies.

    When Christiane came back to Montreal, Guy Caron, the director of creation for Cirque du Soleil invited her to become his assistant. She first worked on research pertaining to the creation of the show KÀ, directed by Robert Lepage. She remained as assistant to the director of creation until the delivery of KÀ in February 2005.

    Back in Montreal following the premiere of KÀ, Christiane assisted Guy Caron and Fernand Rainville, co-directors of the Cirque-produced show for the opening ceremonies of the MONTREAL 2005 - XI FINA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS. She then undertook research on other themes for potential shows including the project scheduled to open in Dubai in 2010.

    CRISS ANGEL Believe is Christiane Barette’s first Cirque du Soleil production as director of creation. “Creation is the driving force at Cirque,” says Christiane. “The role of the director of creation is to demystify the process, which is highly complex, to simplify it and bring it down to a human scale. The goal: to let the creators create. With CRISS ANGEL Believe we want to change the way people think of magic and present it as an art form. The show is a surreal journey into the subconscious of a character with magical powers who sets out on an out-of-this-world rollercoaster ride.”

    Christiane Barette was born in Montreal.

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  • Ray Winkler

    Set Designer

    Ray Winkler started out as a carpenter and qualified as a furniture craftsman before turning to his family’s tradition and studying for five years to obtain a master’s degree in architecture (from University College, London). He became interested in set design while doing postgraduate studies in California , drawn by its ephemeral nature as opposed to the durability and permanence of conventional buildings.

    He has been working as an entertainment architect/designer at The Mark Fisher Studio since 1997. “It was supposed to be a six-week stint,” he says. “But I'm still here!” In that time, Ray has designed sets for countless live TV shows, including MTV Icons, the MTV Movie Awards, the EMAs in Edinburgh , Rome , Lisbon and Copenhagen , the BRITS in London and the NFL Super Bowl in Detroit .

    He has also worked on tours for U2 and the Rolling Stones, and designed shows for Johnny Hallyday at the Eiffel Tower and the Olympia Theatre in Paris , and multimedia spectacles for Jean-Michel Jarre at the Great Pyramids in Giza and the Acropolis. His recent work includes the Robbie Williams Close Encounters arena and stadium tour, the worldwide design of the nine ‘Live Earth’ stages and the Take That arena tour. He recently completed a multimedia outdoor show for Universal Studios Japan, which opened in Osaka in spring 2008.

    He is also the production designer for the 2012 London Olympic Handover Ceremony at the closing ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

    “Architecture involves the relationship between structure, space and people, all of which come to fruition with Cirque du Soleil, because it brings together many different disciplines to create a show. The challenge with CRISS ANGEL Believe is: How do you make magic truly magical in the context of a theatre? There’s been a very interesting learning curve on my part in understanding the basic techniques and requirements for magic, and discovering just how much effort it takes for Criss Angel to do things seemingly effortlessly.”

    Ray Winkler was born in 1967 in Jakarta , Indonesia.

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  • Mérédith Caron

    Costume Designer

    Mérédith Caron has made her mark in theatre, cinema, opera and circus, not just in Quebec but the world over. With more than 175 collaborations under her belt, Mérédith is one of Canada’s top costume designers. She has worked with some outstanding directors, including Pierre Bernard, Serge Denoncourt, Robert Lepage, Martine Beaulne, René Richard Cyr, André Brassard, Daniele Finzi Pasca and Richard Monette at the prestigious Stratford Festival in Ontario. During her collaborations, Mérédith Caron has received many prestigious awards in Quebec, including a Gémeau, seven Gascon-Roux and two Masque awards. She has been teaching art history and costume design at the National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal for nearly 20 years. She worked with Cirque du Soleil for the first time in 1988, when she designed costumes for a project under development. After CRISS ANGEL Believe, Mérédith is working on her third project with Cirque du Soleil.

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  • Éric Serra

    Composer, Musical Director and Arranger

    Eric Serra began to play the guitar when he was five years old. He went on to master the drums, bass, percussions and keyboards, and formed his own band at the age of 15. A year later he became a professional musician playing with such prominent artists as Didier Lockwood, Youssou N’Dour, Mory Kanté and Jacques Higelin.

    The turning point in Eric’s career came at the beginning of the 1980s when he met French film director Luc Besson, who asked him to compose the score for his first short film titled L'Avant Dernier (1981) and later, his first feature film The Last Combat (1983). Since then, he has written the music for every Besson film (Subway, The Big Blue, La Femme Nikita, Atlantis, Léon aka The Professional, The Fifth Element etc.).

    From 1980 to 1988, Eric was musical director and bass guitarist for French singer rock star Jacques Higelin and released a pop music album entitled RXRA – whose title sounds like the artist's name when pronounced as initial letters in French.

    In addition to his film work with Luc Besson, Eric has composed the music for Kamikaze (1986) directed by Didier Grousset, Rollerball (2001) by John McTiernan, Jet Lag (2002) by Danièle Thompson and Paul Hunter’s Bulletproof Monk (2003). Between 2003 and 2005, he worked on several collective projects, producing and co-composing the soundtracks for L’Art délicat de la séduction directed by Richard Berry and Wasabi directed by Gérard Krawczyk. Also, together with Phil Collins, Eric produced the French versions of Walt Disney’s Tarzan songs.

    CRISS ANGEL Believe has a distinctive look, tone and mood, and Eric Serra says his music has been written and arranged to blend with the visuals and with the personality of Criss Angel. “It’s very varied,” he adds. “There’s a lot going on and it’s all very rich. There are rock moments that reflect the Criss Angel we’re all familiar with, but other parts of the show are very classical, even symphonic in tone, and there are some ethnic, tribal passages too. The fact that the show is a kind of dream means we are inside his spirit and that gives me great freedom and an extremely broad palette.”

    Eric Serra was born in 1959 near Paris.

    “I see OVO as the immersive surroundings of a world where the insects are magnified,” says Jonathan. “And to accentuate that immersive aspect we’ve worked with a full surround system – which is unusual for a big top show. When you walk into the tent there’s already a sense of a different space, which I would never try to compete with. On the contrary, I embrace this uniquely sounding environment and work to enhance the captured presence of the performance inside the Big Top.”

    As with every other Cirque show, Jonathan works very closely with the composer, Berna Ceppas. “The audience will hear a lot of insect-inspired and other bug-sounding elements which are incorporated into the score and the sound design,” Jonathan explains. “By playing with pitch, tempo, mix and rhythm we are able to create many different ‘flavors’ of sound.”

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  • Jeanette Farmer

    Lighting Designer

    Jeanette Farmer is a native Las Vegan. She first developed her strong interest in theatrical lighting and set design when she was still in high school. She went on to attend the University of Nevada Las Vegas under a theatre design scholarship program while also attending Clark County Community College taking classes in welding, industrial electricity, electronics and computer drafting.

    After a few years of set and lighting design and stagecraft work on The Las Vegas Strip, Jeanette became one of lighting designer Andrew Bridge’s assistants on the groundbreaking production of “Siegfried and Roy at the Mirage.”

    It was through that engagement that Jeanette was introduced to a then little-known touring company that needed help setting up their show in a tent behind the Mirage. That show was Cirque du Soleil’s Nouvelle Experience and it was Jeanette’s first opportunity to work with acclaimed lighting designer Luc Lafortune. “I met all these crazy French Canadian artists and amazing creators and fell in love!” she says. “I knew I'd found my home.”

    Jeanette has dedicated the last several years to Cirque du Soleil honing her skills as an electrical consultant, lighting director and master electrician as she contributed to every one of Cirque's growing repertoire of permanent shows in Las Vegas: She consulted on the electrical and building infrastructure and lighting for Mystère, “O”, Zumanity, KÀ and LOVE.

    Throughout her career Jeanette has volunteered in the education of young theatre technicians through her work with the Thespian Society, the Educational Theatre Association, the Lighting Dimensions Conference Advisory Board, served as a Subject Matter Expert for ESTA’s ETCP certification test and acted as a sponsor for Cirque du Soleil’s college internship program.

    “I've been challenged with the lighting design for CRISS ANGEL Believe to create something that has an old world feel,” she says. “We’ll be using all the latest modern technology to evoke a bygone era. We will challenge your senses by revealing through lighting that there is nothing up our sleeve and then take away your comfort by presenting the impossible.”

    Jeanette Farmer was born in 1964 in Las Vegas.

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  • Wade Robson

    Choreographer

    Wade Robson is just 25 and he’s already accumulated 20 years of experience under his belt as a major creative force. Recognized worldwide as an artist of truly exceptional genius and brilliance, Wade has choreographed and directed music videos, commercials, award shows and world tours for recording artists. He created, produced and starred in MTV’s hit series The Wade Robson Project and has written, choreographed and directed commercials for his own line of footwear, as well as award-winning short films.

    Born in Australia, Wade made his professional début as a dancer at the age of five. He and his family then moved to America when he was nine to pursue his career in the entertainment business. Before he turned ten he had danced and acted in Michael Jackson videos, multiple commercials, films and TV shows.

    At the age of 12, Wade began teaching dance at the Millennium Dance Complex in North Hollywood, CA. This led to his first professional choreography job for MCA recording artists Immature. He began to create a dance style that was all his own, accompanied by his own original music.

    When Wade was only16 he was asked to choreograph Britney Spears’ 1999 world tour and to write, direct, remix the music, direct the video segments and co-design the sets for her appearances on the Billboard Awards, both the American and European MTV Video Music Awards and her Dream Within a Dream world tour and HBO special . These assignments led to the same job description with NSYNC. He went on to write and produce music for such recording artists as Britney Spears, NSYNC, Justin Guarini, Dream, The Backstreet Boys, James Ingram and Carly Simon, and he has also choreographed for Usher, Mya and Pink.

    Wade won an Emmy in 2007 for his groundbreaking work on Fox’s SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE.

    CRISS ANGEL Believe is the first Cirque du Soleil show Wade has worked on. “A lot of the style, the emotion behind the movement, is really primal and raw,” he says. “The dance is character and story driven and that is my most favorite place to create from.”

    Wade Robson was born in Brisbane, Australia in 1982.

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  • Francis Laporte

    Image and Projection Designer

    Video Projections Designer Francis Laporte belongs to the new generation of creators who integrate digital video production and projection technology with more traditional live show forms. Since finishing university in 1992, he has worked on some 20 projects integrating video with the performing arts and theatre. One of his landmark professional assignments was the video design for a stage adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey directed by Dominic Champagne. He also does performances and installations, both alone and with other artists.

    As a projections designer, Francis Laporte can make good use of his diverse training. After studying communications and drama in college, he entered the theatre program at the Université du Québec, specializing in directing and stage design. His interest in images led him to video and multimedia production. “In drama, I looked at shows from the director’s point of view, whereas in video my approach was more theatrical. As a video designer for live shows, I’m finally working on bringing these media together,” he says.

    Francis Laporte also creates images for prestigious television broadcasts, such as the opening ceremonies of the Jeux de la Francophonie and the awards ceremony La Soirée des Jutra. In 2003-2004 he developed the visual concept for Eros Ramazzotti’s show (directed by Serge Denoncourt) and created the set design and visual concept for a performance of the Fantastic Symphony by Berlioz at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. He has also taken on the stage design for live concerts, including Quebec singer-cellist Jorane and singer-songwriter Stefie Shock.

    In 1999, Francis Laporte created the multimedia overture for Dralion. But Varekai was the first Cirque du Soleil show to fully incorporate this new artistic language. He further extended his approach in LOVE, Wintuk and now in CRISS ANGEL Believe. “At Cirque du Soleil, we have the great good fortune of working in a context where everything isn’t seen in terms of constraints; instead there’s a shared determination to see how far we can push the limits,” he notes.

    "Visually, my role is to give the dimension of perspective and depth to the world of CRISS ANGEL Believe," says Francis Laporte. “The projections help to give the various environments a ‘Gothic/Victorian' flavor by blending the mysterious with the grandiose, the bizarre and the sublime. The core intention of the projections is to play with the perceptions, creating a kind of playful dialogue between the real and the virtual."

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  • Jaque Paquin

    Acrobatic Equipment and Rigging Designer

    There’s no formal training for a profession like Jaque Paquin’s. “To do it, you have to do it,” he says. Jaque studied art history (specializing in film) and electronics in school, and began his career in the arts working as a lighting technician at the age of 14. The following year, he opened a disco.

    He went on to work as a stage technician in theatre, a set painter in film, a grip in television and, finally, as a carpenter, team leader and project head in a set construction workshop for theatre and variety shows. "I've worked in nearly all of the trades plied by the people who build and operate my equipment," he says. “So I make an effort to facilitate the work of the technicians and the artists.”

    Jaque joined Cirque du Soleil in 1990 as head of the construction workshop, where he created aerial environments for such shows as Saltimbanco, Dralion, Varekai, Zumanity, KÀ and “O”. From 1991 to 1996, he was Technical Director for the North American tour of Saltimbanco, and he was the show’s Technical Director when it toured Europe and Japan. In 1995 and 1996, he was director of all installations for the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal and the FrancoFolies de Montréal.

    His imagination, artistic flair, and technical skill conjured up the fantastic boat in "O" – a piece of acrobatic equipment that brings together three techniques never before combined in the history of circus arts: the parallel bars, the Korean cradle and the flying trapeze.

    Whether working on the rigging for a show or as head of research and development for Cirque du Soleil's acrobatic equipment, Jaque is constantly on the lookout for ways to give a new look to a wide variety of circus arts. However, he says, “There’s never any compromise for safety. If an artistic vision can be achieved only by lowering the safety standards, then that element of the show will be dropped.”

    For CRISS ANGEL Believe™, Jaque Paquin has designed the equipment used in the illusions as well as the rigging for all of the scenic equipment (sound, lighting and set decorations). "We’ve developed unprecedented techniques, especially for the magic numbers," he says. “I like to say that this show contains some of my best inventions that I will never be able to talk about."

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  • Jonathan Deans

    Sound Designer

    Jonathan Deans is one of the most sought-after live entertainment sound designers in the world. As a young man, he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company as an actor but had also a keen interest in sound and so began to blend with a theatrical context. Several years later, after a spell as a sound engineer in the music industry, notably at Morgan Studios where he brushed shoulders with artists such as Cat Stevens, Paul Simon and Rick Wakeman, he made his way back to the theatre via the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and later went on to mix the sound for the musical A Chorus Line. One success soon followed another, and he became the sound mixing engineer for dozens of London’s West End productions. Jonathan’s success as a mixing sound engineer led to him being hired as sound designer on the musical Marilyn. This was followed by work on other productions as Designer on Time, Les Misérables, Mutiny, Jean Seberg to mention a few. Over a decade later he relocated in America where he has designed systems and productions for theme parks, stadiums, arenas and Broadway productions including Ragtime, Fosse, King David, Damn Yankees, Taboo, Brooklyn, Lestat, Pirate Queen, Young Frankenstein, La Cage Aux Folles, Spiderman, and Priscilla Queen of the Desert. With Michael Jackson ONE Jonathan is creating the sound system and the audio environment of his 14th Cirque du Soleil show since Saltimbanco in 1992.

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  • André Simard

    Acrobatic Performance Designer

    André Simard has been working with Cirque du Soleil since 1987. That year, he created a swinging trapeze act for the show Nouvelle Expérience, sparking a genuine revolution in high-flying aerial movement. Under his direction, the acrobatic feats performed by artists in motion somewhere between Earth and sky, either in a theatre or under a big top, achieved the fluidity of ballet. Between 1989 and 2000, 13 of the acts he created for Cirque du Soleil, the National Circus School and his own company of artists, Studio de création les gens d'R, garnered accolades in festivals attended by the finest circus artists from all over the world.

    The new circus arts are indebted to Simard for his creation of the discipline of aerial silk acrobatics in 1995. Another example of technological and choreographic innovation, stemming from his collaboration with acrobatic apparatus designer Jaque Paquin, was the Boat act in "O". As well, Simard has designed most of the aerial acts in the shows that Cirque performs around the world.

    For over 30 years, André Simard has succeeded in striking a harmonious balance between his three areas of expertise: the fine arts, elite sports, and the circus. In the early 1970s, he was a member of Canada's national gymnastics team while a student at the Institut des arts graphiques de Montréal. In addition, while preparing to compete in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, he trained clowns and other public entertainers at the Centre Immaculée-Conception in Montréal, a forerunner of the National Circus School. In his own words, he is "constantly trying to meld the rules of biomechanics, as applied to athletic training, with the evocative power of the performing arts." This approach has also infused his teaching at the National Circus School, as well as at the Centre national des arts du cirque de Châlons-sur-Marne and the École nationale de Cirque de Rosny-sous-Bois, both in France.

    In 1995 he founded the Studio de création les gens d'R in Montréal, an artistic endeavor that affords him the opportunity to push the envelope of emotional expression through aerial movement. In 2001 this troupe gave the world premiere performance of Échos in Venice. The show was commissioned by the organizers of that city's celebrated Biennale arts festival.

    "For CRISS ANGEL Believe, I’ve come up with a way for the dervish characters to spin by hiding ropes inside their costumes," he says. "I've also introduced acrobatic elements into the stilt walkers’ dance numbers, and I’ve devised a motorized acrobatic mechanism for the character of Kayala: When she emerges from her flower to do her hoop routine, she grabs hold of the petals, which in reality are made out of transparent flexible PVC tubes built into her costume."

    André Simard was born in 1945 in Montreal.

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  • Michael Curry

    Props and Scenic Designer

    Puppet Designer Michael Curry works widely in both conceptual and technical development with the foremost entertainment companies such as the Metropolitan Opera, London's Royal National Theatre, Disney Theatrical Productions, LA Opera, and Universal Pictures. Michael has been the recipient of many prestigious awards from his peers, including several awards for his puppet and costume work on Broadway, Olympic ceremonies as well as his continuing innovations in the fields of visual effects and puppetry design. He has collaborated with Julie Taymor on many stage and opera productions. Among his numerous awards, he received the 1998 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Puppet Design in recognition of his work for Taymor on The Lion King. Michael’s other credits include an opera directed by Robert Lepage at the Paris Opera, an opera at La Scala, Milan, directed by William Friedkin, and the Broadway production of Spider Man with music by Bono and Edge, directed by Julie Taymor. After KÀ, The Beatles LOVE, Wintuk and CRISS ANGEL Believe, Michael Curry collaborates with Cirque du Soleil for the fifth time with Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour.

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  • Nathalie Gagné

    Makeup Designer

    Nathalie Gagné was one of the first graduates of the Montreal branch of the famed Paris-based makeup school École Christian Chauveau. Before joining Cirque du Soleil, Nathalie worked in theatre, film and television. She has twice been nominated for a Gémeau award for best makeup, all categories combined. The honor is conferred by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television. Since 1995 Nathalie has crafted more than 1,000 separate makeup designs for 16 Cirque du Soleil shows. In 2010, Nathalie designed the makeup for the play Il Campiello by Carlo Goldoni, directed by Serge Denoncourt, and for the 3D movie Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away produced by James Cameron and directed by Andrew Adamson in 2012.

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