Cirque du Soleil
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Creators

 

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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  • Franco Dragone

    Director

    A good many of Cirque du Soleil's creations bear the stamp of Franco Dragone's poetic and social vision. Between 1985 and 1998, Dragone directed no fewer than 10 productions: Cirque du Soleil (1985), La magie continue (1986), We Reinvent the Circus (1987), Nouvelle expérience (1990), Saltimbanco (1992), Mystère (1993) Alegría (1994), Quidam (1996), La Nouba and "O" (1998). He also directed the full-length feature Alegria, which came out in the spring of 1999.

    Franco Dragone had a major hand in creating the amalgam of cultures and artistic disciplines that characterizes these productions. Before embarking on a lengthy partnership with Cirque du Soleil in 1985, he worked with a number of theatre companies in Europe.

    A native of Italy, Dragone grew up in La Louvière, an industrial community in Belgium. In 2000, soon after moving back to his hometown, he founded Dragone, an artistic creation and production company.

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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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  • Dominique Lemieux

    Costume Designer

    Dominique Lemieux designed the costumes for all Cirque du Soleil productions between 1989 and 1998. Every single show she has worked on – We Reinvent the Circus (1989), Nouvelle Expérience (1990), Saltimbanco (1992), Mystère (1993), Alegría (1994), Quidam (1996), "O", La Nouba (1998), Corteo (2005), ZAIA (2008) and Banana Shpeel (2009) – bears her unique imprint.

    As a costume designer, Dominique does a lot more than simply outfit the artists. Her designs play a key role in creating the fantastic characters that populate the Cirque du Soleil universe.

    With an expert eye, Dominique weaves colors, patterns and fabrics into fabulous costumes. But her choice of material is not strictly guided by aesthetic considerations alone. For Dominique, determining how fibres react to skin, movement, fire or water is of vital importance, and she never loses sight of the artists' needs.

    Dominique's passion for drawing started at an early age and led her to study fine arts at Concordia University. After earning her degree, she worked as an art designer and children's book illustrator. She later enrolled in the set design program at Canada's National Theatre School (NTS), where the courses she took in drawing and costume design took her career in a whole new direction.

    From 1986 to 1988 she worked as an assistant to François Barbeau, one of Montreal's top costume designers and also a teacher at the NTS. During this period, she collaborated on many creations that could be seen on stages across the city.

    In Banana Shpeel Dominique Lemieux has come up with a mix that blends retro and modern. "The line of the costumes recalls the days of vaudeville, while the fabrics and materials are contemporary,” she says. “What makes the costumes is the juxtaposition of the two. I've used illusion as a leitmotif, gradually going from monochrome to color, using vibrant shimmering and changing materials that evoke the flamboyance of the world of vaudeville. Banana Shpeel is full of contrasts: David Shiner loves exploring the extremes, and the costumes sometimes reflect the Machiavellian characters he’s created, and sometimes the angelic."

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  • Michel Crête

    Set Designer

    From 1990 to 1998, the environments for all of Cirque du Soleil's productions sprang from Michel Crête's imagination: he was the one responsible for the scenography of Nouvelle Expérience, Fascination, Saltimbanco, Mystère, Alegría, Quidam, "O", and La Nouba. He also had a hand in designing the three theatres that house Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas and Orlando. In 1998, Michel Crête received the Entertainment Design "Production of the Year" award for "O".

    Michel Crête came to Cirque du Soleil in 1986 as costume designer for the show We Reinvent the Circus. His creations for that show, which was also recorded for television, won him a Gémeaux and a Gemini (awards recognizing the work of television artisans in Canada) for best costumes for a variety show.

    After graduating from the Scenography Program at the National Theatre School of Canada in 1984, Michel Crête quickly became one of the most sought-after theatre set designers in Montreal. Between 1985 and 1991, he designed costumes and sets for nearly forty plays, working with renowned directors and rising stars on the Quebec theatre scene. Three times in a row, from 1989 to 1991, Montreal's Théâtre du Nouveau Monde awarded him its Prix Gascon-Roux for best set design.

    In 2001, he designed the big top and created the set for Cheval, a production of the Cheval-Théâtre company founded by Gilles Ste-Croix.

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  • Luc Lafortune

    Lighting Designer

    In directing the lighting for the show KÀ, Luc Lafortune is contributing to his twelfth creation with Cirque du Soleil. He has been associated with Cirque du Soleil since its beginnings in 1984. That year, he was hired as a lighting technician backstage. The following year, he was at the lighting control booth for the young troupe's eight-month tour. In 1986, he became the lighting designer. Since then, his lighting creations have toured the world.

    At Cirque du Soleil, his creator's resumé includes the shows We Reinvent the Circus, Fascination, Nouvelle Expérience, Saltimbanco, Mystère, Alegría, Quidam, "O", La Nouba, Dralion, Varekai and Zumanity. He was also co-director of photography for the video recording of the show Quidam.

    In 2002, he worked with director Robert Lepage to design the lighting for British singer Peter Gabriel's world tour, Growing Up. Many other internationally successful artists and groups have called upon his talents. Since 1996, he has worked with, among others, No Doubt, The Eagles, Gipsy Kings and Swiss circus Salto Natale.

    Luc Lafortune studied theatre production at Concordia University in Montreal . He was originally interested in set design. "One day, during rehearsal, I discovered the ability of light to redefine a space, to make a strong contribution to the image and spirit of a show," he says. The experience inspired a passion that still permeates his work today.

    The excellence of his work has garnered him many awards. In 1992, his lighting design for the show Saltimbanco earned him a Drama-Logue Theater Award, given by critics from the California-based theatre magazine of that name. In 1994, he was chosen as designer of the year by the magazine Lighting Dimensions International (LDI). In 1997, the Martin Professionals show The Atomic Lounge, for which Luc Lafortune was artistic director, won the LDI for best light show. In 1998, he took an Entertainment Design Award for his lighting design for the show "O".

    Luc Lafortune is regularly invited as a speaker to share his knowledge and thoughts with students and professionals all over the world.

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  • Benoit Jutras

    Composer and Musical Director

    As Composer and Musical Director, Benoit Jutras has brought life to pieces that evoke the senses of spectators and music lovers alike. At Cirque du Soleil, he has created the soundtracks for Quidam, “O” and La Nouba. He also composed the soundtrack for the IMAX movie Cirque du Soleil Journey of Man (a Sony Pictures Classics and Cirque du Soleil co-production) and for the feature film Alegria, produced by Franco Dragone, for which he won a Jutra award (Quebec). Before creating the music for these five productions on his own, Benoit was already a valuable collaborator of Cirque du Soleil.

    In 1987, he joined the team of We Reinvent the Circus, where he spent three years working as Musical Director. In 1990, he became Co-Composer and Musical Director for the show's European tour. He then worked with René Dupéré on composing the music for Mystère and Fascination. He also wrote a few pieces and acted as Musical Director for the special Cirque du Soleil performance for the G7 Summit in Halifax in 1995.

    In 1996, Benoit was named best circus composer at the International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo. This award was in recognition of his work as composer and musical director on a show presented in Switzerland, co-created by Cirque du Soleil and Circus Knie.

    In 2000, he composed the music for Francesco il musical, an Italian production based on the life and times of Saint Francis of Assisi. This work was presented in Assisi to mark the arrival of the new millennium.

    At the movies, Benoit created the original soundtracks for The Far Side of the Moon (2003) by Robert Lepage and Borderline (2007), a Lyne Charlebois film. He is also credited with the music of The Wind in the Willows (2006), a TV movie directed by Rachel Talalay and co-produced by the BBC and CBC.

    In 2005, Benoit composed the music for Le Rêve, a show presented at the theatre of the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas. In 2008, he composed three pieces to be included in the celebrations surrounding Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Yankee Stadium in New York. That same year, he was asked to write the music for the Glow in the Park Parades created by Six Flags and presented in the United States, New England, and Mexico.

    Benoit Jutras holds a master's degree in composition from the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal and has received two major awards from this institution.

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  • Debra Brown

    Choreographer

    Debra Brown is world renowned for her unique choreographies blending acrobatics and dance. She joined Cirque du Soleil in 1987 as a choreographer for We Reinvent the Circus and went on to choreograph the shows Nouvelle Expérience, Saltimbanco, Alegría, Mystère, Quidam, “O”, La Nouba, Corteo, one act in Zumanity, ZED, Zarkana, Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour and Amaluna. She has also worked with artists and groups from a wide variety of disciplines including the 1990 Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain (Paris), the John Corigliano’s opera The Ghosts of Versailles, presented at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and Wagner’s Ring Cycle, put on by the Lyric Opera of Chicago. In 1994, Debra created and produced Apogée, a 50-minute trampoline-based ballet which premiered in Toronto and was also presented in both Los Angeles and San Francisco at “Passport ’96,” an AIDS benefit hosted by Elizabeth Taylor and Magic Johnson. In 1995, she worked with Luciano Pavarotti on the Metropolitan Opera’s production of La Fille du Régiment (The Daughter of the Regiment) in New York. Debra also choreographed Aerosmith’s Jaded video and energetic performance for the American Music Awards in 2001, as well as Madonna’s Drowned world tour. Debra has worked with major musical acts such as Shakira, Wyclef Jean, Céline Dion and Madonna. Her film work includes Catwoman, Van Helsing and Barney’s Great Adventure. She received the Innovative Choreography Award in honour of her exceptional contribution to choreography and dance at the 14th Bob Fosse Awards in Los Angeles in 1997. In 2002, she received an Emmy Award for her choreography of an act created by Cirque du Soleil for the Academy Awards.

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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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