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Creators

  • Philippe Decouflé

    Writer and Director

    French stage and film director, artistic director, dancer and choreographer Philippe Decouflé trained in many disciplines. His earliest ambition was to become a cartoonist, but after studying at Annie Fratellini’s circus school and Marcel Marceau’s mime school, he turned to modern dance and came into contact with choreographers such as Merce Cunningham and Alwin Nikolais.

    For Philippe, cooperation with others is essential to his process. In 1983 he gathered together a group of artists and artisans who have been with him ever since as members of his dance company DCA, which has created scores of playful and fantastic productions that represent a veritable revival in contemporary dance.

    Philippe directed some music videos and commercials in the 1980s, and in 1992 he created the magnificent opening and closing ceremonies of the Albertville Olympic Games, working with his frequent cohorts costume designer Philippe Guillotel, and set designer Jean Rabasse. For Philippe, putting together the parade of 3,000 performers was akin to writing a symphony. Watched by two billion viewers, this work earned him an international reputation.

    In 1995, Philippe moved his company into an old heating plant that he transformed into a bubbling laboratory where artists, designers and technicians could share their ideas. This was the birthplace of such original creations as Triton (1990), Shazam (1998), Solo (2003), Sombrero (2006), Cœurs croisés (2007) and Octopus (2010). He also wrote the show Désirs, which has been playing at the Crazy Horse Saloon in Paris since 2009.

    Among his many honors Philippe was appointed Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1994, and the following year he won the Grand prix national du ministère de la culture for his show Decodex.

    IRIS is Philippe Decouflé’s first engagement with Cirque du Soleil. “I wanted this work to belong within the great traditions of Cirque du Soleil, but with my own mix of humor and seriousness,” he says.

    Philippe Decouflé was born in Paris, France.

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  • Danny Elfman

    Composer

    Danny Elfman is best known for scoring music for movies and television. He has earned numerous honors, including a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award, three Golden Globe nominations, and four Academy Award nominations. In 1998, he was honored with dual Oscar nominations for Best Original Score for his work on Barry Sonnenfeld’s Men in Black and Gus Van Sant’s Good Will Hunting. He received his third Oscar nomination for the score of Tim Burton’s acclaimed fantasy Big Fish. Danny earned his most recent Oscar nomination for his score for the acclaimed biopic Milk, directed by Gus Van Sant and his most recent Golden Globe nomination for his score to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.

    Danny's association with Tim Burton has produced scores for 13 films including Batman, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas. He has worked on over 60 other films as varied as Spider-Man, Dolores Claiborne, Black Beauty, Dead Presidents, To Die For, A Simple Plan, Sommersby, Mission: Impossible, Family Man, Wanted, Dick Tracy, Midnight Run and Chicago.

    Danny won an Emmy Award for his theme for the hit television series Desperate Housewives, and was also nominated for his theme for The Simpsons, the longest-running primetime comedy series ever.

    At the age of 18 and with no musical training, he followed his brother Richard to Paris, where he got his first musical and performing experience with the avant-garde musical theatre group Le Grand Magic Circus which toured Europe. He then spent a year traveling through West Africa, absorbing musical styles that would eventually influence his own music.
    Returning home Danny spent seven years performing with his own theatre troupe and composed his first movie score for his brother's debut feature film, Forbidden Zone. Soon after he started the rock band Oingo Boingo who recorded and toured between 1978 and 1995. His debut orchestral score was for Tim Burton’s Pee Wee’s Big Adventure in 1985.

    His love of film music began when he first heard Bernard Herrmann’s score for The Day the Earth Stood Still as a child and he cites Nino Rota and Erich Wolfgang Korngold as other film score influences. He is also inspired by such classical composers as Prokofiev, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky. In recent years Danny has been working in the classical world himself, notably with Serenada Schizophrana for the American Composers Orchestra and the ballet Rabbit and Rogue with Twyla Tharp for American Ballet Theater.

    IRIS is Danny’s first engagement with Cirque du Soleil, and although the show is rooted in film he says: “I spent eight years in musical theatre, so my original roots were on the streets doing theatre, music and performance art (including fire-breathing and acrobatics). So in a way, IRIS has brought me back full circle to where I started.”

    “My approach to IRIS is primarily orchestral to keep it linked to the inspiration of cinema,” he says. “I combined both large and small ensembles throughout the show. I hope to touch on many film music elements, though sometimes in a surrealistic way.”

    Danny Elfman was born in Los Angeles, California.

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  • Jean-François Bouchard

    Chief Creative Content Officer and Director of Creation

    Jean-François Bouchard has many years of experience in design and a solid artistic and technical background. In 1982, armed with a college degree in civil engineering and additional science courses, he joined the new environmental design program offered by the Université du Québec à Montréal. As part of his studies, he designed a prototype for a backpack that converted into a tent – and the finished product was purchased by the U.S. Army!

    Upon graduation in 1984 he started his own design company which rapidly found success in the Montreal area. Between 1985 and 1990 he designed interiors for several financial institutions, including branches of the Bank of Nova Scotia and the Royal Bank.

    Between 1990 and 1995, his designs set the tone and atmosphere of a dozen downtown Montreal bars and restaurants. He followed this with designs for shops and exhibition stands specializing in the field of fashion.

    Jean-François joined Cirque du Soleil in 2001, following three years as a freelance contributor. He first made his mark with the design of the boutique connected with the La Nouba theatre in Downtown Disney West Side in Orlando. He was then appointed Senior Director of Creation and became a key member of Cirque's Special Events design team. His most recent projects include The Beatles REVOLUTION LOUNGE at The Mirage and the Gold Boutique Nightclub and Lounge at Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.

    In 2010 Jean-François was named Vice President, New Show Creation and in 2012 he became Vice President, Creation and Development. His role is to support the company’s creative ventures and includes the assignment of challenging opportunities to talented young designers.

    "IRIS uses a perfectly adapted language of acrobatics as a framework," says Jean-François Bouchard. “That enables the show to present its theme of cinema as seen through the double prism of Cirque du Soleil and the world of its director, Philippe Decouflé."

    Jean-François Bouchard was born in Sept-Îles, Quebec.

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  • Pascale Henrot

    Associate Director of Creation

    After studying crafts at the l’Ecole des Trois Soleils in Lyon, France, Pascale Henrot turned to dance under the influence of choreographers Claude Decaillot and Michel Hallet-Eghayan.

    From 1978 to 1987 she worked in Lyon with choreographer Régine Chopinot, then in Paris with Daniel Larrieu’s company Astrakan and Andrew De Groat’s company Red Notes. After dancing with Philippe Decouflé, she became his choreographic assistant and started working as a producer and director with his company DCA, a role she undertook in all his creations from Codex (1986) to Shazam (1997). She also worked as a director and company administrator in the creation of commercials and other short films by Philippe.

    Pascale produced a show called Triton et les petites tritures as one of the events associated with the FIFA World Cup held in France in 1998, and after leaving DCA, she worked with artistic directors Andre Heller and Philippe Decouflé on the preparations for the opening ceremony of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Berlin.

    From 2000 to 2007, Pascale was co-director of the "Paris quartier d’été" festival, working on programming and administration. In 2007 she produced events for the inauguration of Life at Saint-Nazaire, a new space for interdisciplinary and emerging forms. Since the summer of 2008, she has directed the Théâtre de la Cité Internationale in Paris, which has three multidisciplinary spaces dedicated to all forms of contemporary performing arts.

    As Associate Director of Creation of IRIS, Pascale Henrot is the link between the director, his ideas and the show’s other creators. Working at Philippe Decouflé’s side, her role is to ensure that his intentions and vision materialize on stage. "In IRIS, the acrobatics are absolutely integral to the entire structure of the show – a production that presents a poetic, playful and inventive take on film," she says.

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  • Jean Rabasse

    Set Designer

    Jean Rabasse has worked extensively in cinema, theatre and dance as a set designer and decorator. He has designed the sets for Philippe Decouflé's dance company DCA for more than a decade.

    Jean was nominated for an Academy Award and won the César for his sumptuous, elaborate designs for the 2001 film Vatel. His other film credits include Astérix et Obélix contre César, directed by Claude Zidi, The Dreamers, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, The City of Lost Children, Delicatessen directed by Caro and Jeunet, Norman Jewison's The Statement and Christophe Barratier’s Faubourg 36, for which he received a César nomination.

    In 2009, he designed the sets for the opera L'Amour de loin, in a staging by Daniele Finzi Pasca, presented by the English National Opera in London.

    A versatile artist, Jean Rabasse reinvents the craft of forms. "I make no distinctions between the disciplines in which I work. In movies I always stress theatrical effects, to give the film soul. In the theatre, I use cinematic elements."

    IRIS is the third Cirque du Soleil show (following Corteo and The Beatles LOVE) for which Jean has designed the sets.

    "Instead of a classic representation of cinema referring to specific films, we wanted to capture the essence of cinema, its original emotion," says Jean Rabasse. “The proscenium of IRIS is a nod to the origins of cinema in Coney Island and the world of Jules Verne, and acts as the gateway to our imaginary world."

    Jean Rabasse was born in Tlemcen, Algeria.

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  • Philippe Guillotel

    Costume Designer

    Philippe has worked for many high profile French movie and theatre directors. Since 1985, he has had a long working relationship with the renowned French choreographer Philippe Decouflé for whom he designed the astonishing costumes seen in the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. He also worked with Decouflé on the opening ceremonies of the 50th Cannes film festival in 1997 and Tricodex, a multimedia work for the Ballet de l'Opéra de Lyon, in 2003. Between 2001 and 2005, his designs were featured in four ballets, including La Belle, staged by the Ballets de Monte Carlo. In cinema, Philippe designed the exuberant costumes for the 2002 feature film Astérix & Obélix: Mission Cleopatra, for which he received a César award, and prior to that, the films Doggy Bag and À la Mode. In 2007 he designed the costumes for choreographer Jean-Christophe Maillot’s production of Gounod’s Faust in Wiesbaden. He has been equally active in the world of live shows, designing the costumes for the musical Starmania in 1995 for Canadian composer and director Lewis Furey, and videos for a number of artists such as Julien Clerc and Alain Souchon. With KURIOS – Cabinet of curiosities, Philippe Guillotel collaborates with Cirque du Soleil for the third time after The Beatles LOVE and IRIS.

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  • Daphné Mauger

    Choreographer

    At the age of four, Daphné Mauger already knew she would be a dancer. She started out in ballet, but turned to contemporary dance at ten. A graduate of the Conservatoire national supérieur de danse in Paris, she continues to work as a dancer and choreographer for many French productions.

    Preferring character roles to the corps de ballet, Daphné has worked extensively as a soloist with the Compagnie Karine Saporta. From 1998 to 2000, she participated in the creation and tour of Philippe Découflé’s Triton 2 ter. She then danced for Castafiore System, and for Gilles Verièpe and Laura Scozzi’s companies.

    In 2004, Daphné began working with choreographer Alban Richard on five creations including Luisance and Lacis. She worked once again with Decouflé, in the creation of La mêlée des mondes, one of the events of the opening of the 2007 Rugby World Cup – a parade in Paris with more than 1,200 participants. The following year she worked with him again on the creation of the touring show Sombreros.

    Daphné choreographed Les Souliers rouges presented in Lyon, France, in 2008 by director Matthieu Gerin, and the Dansez Viking! parade for DSN (Dieppe Scène Nationale) in 2010.

    "IRIS is a circus show that relies heavily on a choreographic language," says Daphné, who is working with Cirque du Soleil for the first time. “The cinema-related themes that we address – the shadows, decomposition of movement and so on – are integrated into the performance of the 72 artists. All the characters, including the acrobats, will be dancers."

    Daphné Mauger was born in Rennes, France.

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  • Patrice Besombes

    Lighting Designer

    Patrice Besombes started out studying drama in Tours, France, before discovering lighting as his métier and dance as the world he wanted to bring it to.

    As Technical Director of the Maison de la Danse de Lyon, the self-taught Patrice developed his approach through the work he did with the emerging – and varied – generation of French choreographers of the early 1980s, including Catherine Diverrès, Dominique Boivin and Kitsou Dubois. He designed the lighting for Benjamin Millepied’s On the Other Side for the New York City Ballet, as well as Triad and Amoveo for the Paris Opera. He also worked with the American choreographer Carolyn Carlson, whose Signes is still in the repertory of the Ballet National de Paris.

    Patrice participated in the International Dance Festival in Montpellier and the Vienna Jazz Festival, joining Philippe Decouflé’s company DCA in 1993, first as stage manager on Petites pièces montées and Decodex. He slowly gravitated toward lighting with such DCA productions as Denise, the ceremonies of the 50th Cannes International Film Festival, Marguerite, Shazam!, Triton, Solo, Iris, Sombreros and Octopus.

    When he creates tableaux of light for the theatre, Patrice makes extensive use of cinema techniques. Inspired by the book Des lumières et des ombres by Henri Alekan, one of the greatest French cinematographers, Patrice loves to work on faces – sculpting them with light to capture their expressions.

    "Light is essential to the image and its propagation, especially in entertainment and film,” says Patrice, who is working with Cirque du Soleil for the first time. “What's new in IRIS is the way the artists light themselves by carrying their own lights."

    Patrice Besombes was born in Saumur, France.

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  • Anne-Séguin Poirier

    Props Designer

    For the past 10 years, Anne-Séguin Poirier has worked as a set and costume designer for theatre, circus, opera and exhibits.

    Since 2005 she has designed sets and props for shows directed by Quebec multimedia creators Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon, including the Cirque du Soleil show DELIRIUM, Starmania Opera (a production of the Opéra de Montréal), La Belle et la bête for the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde and Norman, a heartfelt tribute to Canadian filmmaker Norman McLaren for the company 4Dart.

    Anne-Séguin designed costumes for stage directors and choreographers Peter James, Gypsy Snider, Shanna Carroll and Lemieux-Pilon. She also designed the props for the Cirque Eloize shows directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca, and Quebec director Gilles Maheu’s production of Don Juan. In 2010 she designed costumes for the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.

    IRIS marks the second time Anne-Séguin has worked on a Cirque du Soleil show following DELIRIUM.

    “The IRIS props are straight out of a cabinet of curiosities,” she says. “There are found objects, intricate machinery and valuable film props – and they’re all variations on the themes of sound, light and illusion. They tell our own story of the creation of the cinema from the early inventions and machines to the major film studios.”

    Anne-Séguin Poirier was born in Montréal.

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  • Olivier Simola

    Choreographer

    After studying at the Conservatoire national de région (CNR) in Grenoble and at the Conservatoire national supérieur musique et danse de Lyon, Olivier Simola acquired his first professional experience working with numerous choreographers including Andy Degroat, Jean-François Duroure, Joël Borges et Christophe Salengro. In 1995, he joined the dance company DCA founded by Philippe Decouflé. He first worked on the creation of Decodex before becoming one of the mainstays of the company, leaving his mark on many other DCA creations. Dancer and video-maker Olivier Simola then began to work closely with Philippe Decouflé. By fusing his two principal areas of expertise – dance and video – he contributes to shaping the singular worlds of choreographers such as Benjamin Millepied and Michael Baryshnikov. For Cirque du Soleil, Olivier designed the projections for the company’s performance at the 84th Academy Awards ceremony. After his work as Projection Designer on IRIS – A Journey Through the World of Cinema, Michael Jackson ONE is his second collaboration to a Cirque du Soleil show.

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  • Christophe Waksmann

    Projection Designer

    A member of the dance company DCA founded by Philippe Decouflé, Christophe Waksmann has worked closely with the French director as a dancer, camera operator, director, film editor and image designer. This is the first time he has participated in the creation of a Cirque du Soleil show.

    Christophe’s approach combines art and technology, paving the way for a new category of artist: “dancer/cameraman.” A computer expert from a young age, he spent eight years at the Centre chorégraphique Les Planches in Grenoble, where he developed his multiple talents. After expanding his versatility with the Skalen company and Christiane Blaise’s company, Christophe completed his video training at the Université Grenoble-III in the late 1980s.

    Christophe Waksmann has more than twenty show recordings to his credit, notably for Gilles Verièpe’s company, the Équilibres company and the collective AOC. He has danced in several DCA productions as well as supporting Philippe Decouflé with his video experiments.

    "I try to take into account all of the many constraints inherent in live performance," says Christophe. “The axes of projection must never impede the view of the audience or the artists, for example. In IRIS, video is one of the narrative processes that allow the director to tell a story."

     Christophe Waksmann was born in Grenoble, France.

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  • François Bergeron

    Sound Designer

    François Bergeron has been designing sound for Cirque du Soleil for more than 20 years. His creations (Nouvelle Expérience, Saltimbanco, Quidam, "O", La Nouba, Varekai and ZED) have toured the world, earning him multiple awards, including "Sound Designer of the Year,” for multimedia facilities at the Nike flagship store in New York and Cirque du Soleil’s Quidam. He was part of the creation team that won a THEA Award for “O” in Las Vegas.

    Since moving to Los Angeles in 1993, François has designed the sound for numerous variety shows, plays, musicals, theme parks and museum experiences. He took part in the creation of the Tokyo DisneySea theme park and Templo del Fuego (Universal Studios Port Aventura in Spain), an assignment that eventually led to the creation of his own company, Thinkwell Design & Production. François regularly works on projects throughout the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

    "The soundscape can elicit powerful emotions within a Cirque show,” he says. “It can warn of impending danger, heighten tension or trigger laughter. It is impossible to escape its influence. My challenge as the Sound Designer is to create an atmosphere that conveys the intentions of the director, highlights the music and support the artists."

    “To create the sound environment of IRIS, we used tools and techniques that are poles apart,” he adds. “On the one hand, we designed and installed an advanced sound system. On the other, we took a purely organic approach to create some of the sound effects, using anything we could lay our hands on. It’s a mixture of advanced digital technology and old-school know-how. This is our tribute to the film artisans.”

    François Bergeron was born in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec.

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  • Boris Verkhovsky

    Acrobatic Performance Designer

    Following his graduation from the Institute of Physical and Sports Culture in Minsk, Belarus with a degree in Physical Education and Sports, Boris Verkhovsky rose through the ranks to become a coach of the national acrobatics team of the former Soviet Union. Boris emigrated to Canada in 1978 and eventually became Head Coach of the Canadian national trampoline and tumbling team, and was approached by Cirque du Soleil in 1993 to consult on a proposed tumbling act for the Las Vegas resident show Mystère. He was subsequently named Head Coach of Acrobatic Training at Cirque du Soleil and is currently Director of Performance Design and Development. Although KURIOS – Cabinet of curiosities is Boris’ second “hands-on” Cirque du Soleil show as Acrobatic Performance Designer after IRIS, he has been deeply involved in the development and creation of every Cirque production since he joined the company.

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  • Shana Carroll

    Acrobatic Performance Designer

    With a background in theatre, Shana Carroll began her circus career in 1988 when she touched a trapeze bar for the first time and discovered that she felt at home in the air, where she could move with a grace she had never experienced on the ground.

    After several seasons with the Pickle Family Circus, Shana trained at Montreal’s École Nationale de Cirque and L’École de Cirque de Rosny-sous-Bois, outside Paris. She went on to join Cirque du Soleil in 1994, where her seven-year performance career as a trapeze artist ranged from the touring show Saltimbanco to the IMAX movie Journey of Man and the television series Solstrom. She also created an aerial trapeze act with 30 artists for Cirque's show celebrating Quebec City’s 400th anniversary.

    In 2002, Shana and six friends founded the Quebec contemporary circus company Les 7 Doigts de la Main, performing in and co-creating the shows Loft and La Vie. She also co-directed and choreographed Traces with Gypsy Snider (for which they received a Drama Desk Award nomination for Best Choreography), and directed and choreographed the company’s latest production, Psy.

    During this time Shana has continued to teach, direct and choreograph numerous other projects, including the choreography of three gold-medal-winning acts at the Festival Mondial de Cirque de Demain.

    IRIS is her first collaboration with Cirque du Soleil as Acrobatic Performance Designer. In designing any acrobatic performance, Shana draws on her theatre background, always looking for its dramatic potential and for ways to develop well defined characters the audience can identify with.

    “Many people on IRIS are from the world of dance, starting with the director, Philippe Decouflé,” she points out. “A lot of their natural approach to storytelling through movement has proved to be a really good fit with the work I've been doing with the acrobats.”

    Shana Carroll was born in Berkeley, California.

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  • Pierre Masse

    Acrobatic Equipment and Rigging Designer

    Pierre Masse’s career spans just about every genre of the performing arts. He was involved in major productions with the Opéra de Montréal, the Grands Ballets Canadiens and Céline Dion as well as a production of Les Misérables. He has collaborated with Cirque du Soleil since 1996, and took part in the creation of Quidam, Varekai, Zumanity, KÀ and CRISS ANGEL Believe. Michael Jackson ONE is Pierre Masse’s third Cirque du Soleil show as Acrobatic Rigging and Equipment Designer following TOTEM and IRIS – A Journey Through the World of Cinema.

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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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