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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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  • 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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  • Deborah Colker

    Writer, Director and Choreographer

    As a child in her native Brazil, Deborah Colker grew up in a creative environment. Her father was a violinist and conductor and she started piano lessons at the age of eight. “Though I was quite good at it, playing with an orchestra at 14, I soon realized I needed to express my emotions physically as well, through sports for instance,” she says. “I was very passionate and intense and contemporary dance gave me the chance to fit together physical and intellectual emotion.”

    Deborah became a member of Uruguayan choreographer Graciela Figueroa’s Coringa company in 1980. In 1984, she began creating choreographies and directing piece movements for musicals, shows, TV programs, movies and samba schools.

    Wanting to create a choreographic language of her own, Deborah founded her company, Companhia de Dança Deborah Colker in 1994, and created many highly acclaimed full-length dance pieces for it, including Vulcão, Velox, Mix, Rota, Casa and 4 Por 4.

    In Brazil alone Deborah’s individual works have attracted large and loyal audiences. "My work is like Brazil," she says, "the mix of colors, the dynamics and rhythms, the happiness and possibility of a long way of discovery. It's an honor to me that my background is this beautiful, creative, and musical country."

    Deborah’s award-winning work quickly caught the attention of the entire dance world. In 2002, she was invited by Komische Oper in Berlin to choreograph a full program, Casa (a piece originally created for Deborah’s own company in 1999) and Ela. In 2006, she went on to create Maracanã for the Culture Factory of Kampnagel in Hamburg. Deborah became the first Brazilian artist to win the Laurence Olivier Award, one of the most important cultural prizes in the UK, in the “Outstanding Achievement in Dance” category for her choreography MIX in 2001.

    Working with Cirque du Soleil called for a departure from Deborah’s customary way of working. She is used to developing concepts as an integral part of the rehearsal process, but for Cirque 2009 she had to come up with the concepts a year and a half before rehearsals began.

    “OVO presents the world of insects with the emphasis on constant movement and color,” says Deborah. “I have a very physical choreographic language and for me the insects’ movements translate into emotion. Cirque 2009 reflects my background in dance, of course, but it also represents my lifelong love of music, the inspiration I draw from sport and the liveliness you can discover in every aspect of life. I love to work on a large scale and create a big impact with tons of energy and excitement on stage.”

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  • Chantal Tremblay

    Director of Creation

    At the end of the 1980s, while living in New York pursuing a career in dance, Chantal Tremblay decides to join Cirque du Soleil after having seen one the company’s shows. Chantal started out as a dancer on a Cirque project and then became choreographer Debra Brown’s assistant on the creation of Mystère. Before KURIOS –Cabinet of Curiosities Chantal has worked on many Cirque projects including the shows Alegría, La Nouba and Mystère for which she once was the Artistic Director. In 2006, she becomes the Director of Creation for The Beatles LOVE, followed by OVO in 2009, Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour in 2011.

    “OVO is a very physical show,” says Chantal. “Everything is constantly in motion, which underlines the emphasis we’re placing on human performance. This energy draws on the movements, the rhythms and the cadences of insects – which were our key inspiration throughout the process of creating the show.”

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  • Gringo Cardia

    Set and Props Designer

    Gringo Cardia, who started out as a gymnast, has earned an enviable reputation as one of the most sought-after designers in the world of performing arts and video in Brazil.

    In his career as a designer, Gringo has successfully integrated the three disciplines he has worked in: architecture, graphic design and theatrical staging. He has also made his mark as a director in film and video as well as a producer in the world of theatre, opera and fashion.

    In 1989, he founded a circus troupe in Brazil before joining forces with Deborah Colker, the director of OVO in 1994. Together, they invented a visual language that owes a great deal to set design. "When I design a set I like to think big, to push the limits,” he says. “I don’t think of scenery as a support for a production. It’s more than mere decoration. It has to be an integral part of the concept of the show to be used and manipulated by the dancers and the actors.”

    This approach has clearly worked. Gringo has designed the sets for over 100 theatrical productions and more than 150 music shows. His 70-plus music videos have won him numerous awards including the MTV Video Award for Best Brazilian Video in 1990. He has also designed hundreds of album covers for the most prominent Brazilian musicians, including Antonio Carlos Jobim and Gilberto Gil. His work has been recognized with more than 20 awards, including the Laurence Olivier Award for Mix, presented by Deborah Colker’s dance company.

    In 2000, Gringo and actress Marisa Orth founded a nonprofit organization named Spectaculu which trains students from underprivileged areas in theatre technical arts. More than 2,000 young people have gone on from Spectaculu to careers in entertainment (www.spectaculu.org.br).

    Gringo Cardia designed and curated the exhibition Amazonia Brazil, which has been touring the world since 2004, and in 2006 he directed the film No Arms for Amnesty International. Among his recent architectural commissions was the design of the Museum of Telecommunications in Rio de Janeiro and the new Minas Gerais Memorial in Belo Horizonte.

    Gringo Cardia regards the design of a Cirque du Soleil set as more like architecture than theatre. "A Cirque show has a lifespan of 10 to 15 years rather than a few months,” he points out. “Cirque emphasizes research and development and constantly pushes the creative limits of technology – and that is a perfect fit with my own approach."

    Gringo’s set for OVO evokes the mysterious habitat of insects and is infused with colors and sounds taken from nature. "We are in a cave or a termite’s nest," he explains. “One of the biggest challenges for a designer is to recreate the natural environment. I believe the way to do that is to interpret rather than copy, and in this case to translate the forms and curves of nature so we can see the world through the eyes of insects."

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  • Liz Vandal

    Costume Designer

    Liz began her career as a fashion designer in 1988. Her style was inspired by futuristic superheroes and medieval armour. She used materials such as vinyl, plastic and polyurethane to bring her fantastic creations to life.

    In 1990 Liz began working closely with Édouard Lock, founder of the Montreal dance company La La Human Steps. She designed the costumes for his shows Infante c'est destroy (1991), 2 (1995), Exaucé/Salt (1999), Amelia (2002), André Auria (2002) for the Opéra de Paris and Amjad (2007).

    Other choreographers and dance companies turn to Liz regularly because of her ability to combine costumes and body movement. Among others she has worked for la Compagnie Marie Chouinard. Margie Gillis, Bill Coleman, José Navas, O Vertigo, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, the Washington Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada, Mannheim Theater and Stuttgart Ballet (Germany).

    Since founding her own company Vandal Costumes in 1992 with her partner Yveline Bonjean, Liz has created and innovated costumes in the fields of fashion, theatre, opera, music and film. The Backstreet Boys hired her to design the costumes for their Black 'n Blue tour and her work appeared in the films The Lathe of Heaven directed by Philip Haas and La Turbulence des fluides directed by Manon Briand, both released in 2002.

    OVO marks the first time Liz has worked with Cirque du Soleil. “I have taken full advantage of all the resources available in the Cirque costume shop,” she says. "I explored techniques of transforming material in order to evoke, not imitate, insects. Pleating, dyeing and the application of various finishes gives the costumes a third dimension. The end result is a sort of ‘organic origami’ that resembles muscles and shells. This approach makes it possible to raise the costumes to a level of poetry and give them an evocative texture."

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  • Fred Gérard

    Acrobatic Equipment and Rigging Designer

    In 1984, after some eye-opening encounters at Zingaro Circus (France), Fred left a career drilling for oil to tap into circus arts. Among the first to graduate from the National Centre for Circus Arts in Châlons-sur-Marne (France) as a flying trapeze porter, Fred was approached to become a trapeze artist in the Cirque du Soleil show Nouvelle Expérience. Forced to leave the stage following an injury, he became assistant to the show’s director and artistic director. He went on to assume the role of Tour Artistic Coordinator. After a short stint in Europe, he returned to Cirque du Soleil, taking his first steps in acrobatic equipment design for the shows Alegría and Mystère. Working as Head Rigger and training circus technicians at Cirque du Soleil International Headquarters in Montreal, he then took up these duties on several touring shows between 1997 and 2006. With the help of his circus friends, Fred co-founded the Nickel Chrome group in Martigues in the South of France. As a member of this organization, which supports circus projects, he acts as Tent Master/Head Rigger, Artistic Director, Designer or Trainer for circus projects and companies all over the world. Working with Nickel Chrome and Théâtre Europe, he was also involved in the creation and development of the Janvier dans les Étoiles festival in La Seyne-sur-Mer, France. This is the second time Fred Gérard has worked on a Cirque du Soleil show as Acrobatic Equipment and Rigging Designer, after OVO.

    OVO features some major aerial numbers that present distinct acrobatic equipment challenges. For example, one of them combines the disciplines of the banquine, the Russian Swing and the swinging chair. "We had to put in 80 cables to make it possible for the artists to leap almost 40 feet,” Fred explains. “This is an act that might even become a standard in the circus repertoire.”

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  • Berna Ceppas

    Composer and Musical Director

    After only one year of formal education in music Berna Ceppas left school and became involved in various bands as a guitarist before branching out with synthesizers, samplers and computers. At the age of 25 he went back to school to study graphic design, but it quickly became clear to him that music was where he really belonged, as a performer and a composer/arranger.

    In 1994, Berna began working with Deborah Colker, the director of Cirque 2009, and wrote music for all her dance company’s shows. “We developed a kind of symbiosis,” he says. “We’re not just business partners, we’re friends. We know each other very well and we’ve established a way of working together.”

    Working from his own studio in Rio with countless numbers of leading musicians from Brazil and Japan, Berna is a sought-after producer on the mainstream Brazilian recording scene. He is also prominent as a producer of some of the best Brazilian indie pop-rock bands.

    Berna has worked extensively in the film industry since 2000, writing scores for many movies, notably O Passageiro (The Passenger) and Niemeyer A Vida é um Sopro (Niemeyer - Life is a Breath of Air). His work for the Globo television network includes Brasil Legal and Muvuca, and his score for the Discovery Channel series Blast Off was broadcast around the world.

    In 2002, he formed A Orquestra Imperial, a band that became immensely popular, revitalizing the contemporary music scene in Rio de Janeiro and further afield. The band has launched its international career with shows in various European and American cities including Paris, Chicago and London.

    “I don’t really have a signature sound,” says Berna. “For a while I was known for sampling but that was rather limiting. These days my music reflects the needs of each production.” Berna sees himself as a kind of chameleon, constantly adapting to his creative surroundings. “I am always me, but the challenges I set myself are intimately interwoven with those of the other members of the creative team as we converge toward a common goal.”

    “It’s important to me that OVO is taking place in the Big Top,” says Berna. “It’s not a theatre. It puts the audience in another universe. And the show itself puts them into the world of the insects. I've sampled actual insect sounds to combine with the music directly from the keyboard. I'm also assigning instruments and individual themes to specific characters – a bit like Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf – and, as you might expect from a Brazilian – there is a lot of percussion in the score.”

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  • Eric Champoux

    Lighting Designer

    A painter since the age of 16, Éric Champoux has always taken a keen interest in light.

    Since graduating from the National Theatre School of Canada in 1997, Éric has designed the lighting for more than 60 theatre productions in Quebec and Europe. He has worked with such Quebec directors as André Brassard, Gilles Champagne, Alice Ronfard, René Richard Cyr, Claude Poissant and Yves Desgagnés.

    For the last dozen or so years, Éric has worked particularly closely with Wajdi Mouawad, lighting his productions of Rêves, Les Troyens, Le Mouton et la Baleine, The Three Sisters, Incendies, Fôrets, and, most recently, Seuls.

    Éric designed the lighting for Alice Ronfard’s 2006 production Désordre Public at Théâtre Espace Go, where he also lit La Promesse de l'aube and Les hommes aiment-ils le sexe, vraiment, autant qu'ils le disent? created by a collective of writers and directors.

    In his mission to bring the art of the real – and the unreal – to the audience, Éric is constantly seeking to improve his mastery of painting with the medium of light.

    "I paint light onto bodies and objects,” he says. “I create a luminous image on stage exactly the same way I paint, layer by layer, revealing the characters on a canvas of colour. Both results are based on the same approach."

    OVO marks the first time Éric has worked on Cirque du Soleil show. “My first inspiration was the big top itself,” he says. “I wanted to make use of the apparatus and equipment in the centre, the four masts and the set elements located way in the background. I started by designing on paper from the very beginning of the project, and that’s how I continued to work, looking at the stage as a whole, and observing how dance and the harmony of colours play off each other."

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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.

    “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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  • Philippe Aubertin

    Acrobatic performance Designer

    Inspired by the enthusiasm surrounding the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Philippe Aubertin got started in gymnastics at the age of five. At 18 he was invited to join the national junior team but decided to withdraw from competition because of the physical demands that it imposes. Instead, he became coach at the Gymnastics Centre of Montreal, a position he held until 1999. During his tenure, he was certified by the Canadian Association of Coaches.

    At the same time, Philippe pursued a university education in athletic training, but the appeal of Cirque du Soleil offered him new horizons.

    Cirque's Director of Acrobatic Performance and Coaching, Boris Verkhovsky, hired him in 1999 to train artists at the company’s international headquarters in Montreal.

    Philippe joined La Nouba in Florida as a coach, then took up duties in Japan as head coach on the touring show Saltimbanco. In 2004, he returned to Montreal as Cirque' s head coach before joining Corteo on the road for two years.

    Philippe’s first engagement as a Creator came in 2007 with his appointment as Acrobatic Performance Designer of OVO.

    "As designers, we start from zero,” he says. “And the blank page can be intimidating at first. But when we see our ideas become reality, with the sets, costumes and music, it’s nothing less than intoxicating. For OVO, the decision to focus on human performance and numbers inspired by the dynamics of insects was there from the beginning. We have two large group numbers that blend flying, Russian Swing, trampoline and Power Track.”

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  • Julie Bégin

    Makeup Designer

    Julie Bégin's fascination with the transforming power of makeup began as a child. From an early age she experimented on faces and by the time she was 18, she'd left her science studies behind and embarked on her nomadic makeup journey.

    Julie got her first job on a dare. A friend persuaded her to apply for a makeup position while visiting Toronto. Despite the fact that she had no formal training, her talent shone through and she found herself working in a field that proved to be a perfect fit.

    In 1998, after spending more then eight years refining her trade in Europe and Asia, Julie moved to New York to further her career and pursue her interest in arts. She soon attracted the attention of celebrated makeup artist Dick Page and rapidly became a top player on his team working in New York, Milan and Paris.

    The top names in the fashion and entertainment industries quickly began to seek Julie out: Fashion designers like John Galliano, Marc Jacobs and Helmut Lang called on her. She worked with such prominent photographers as Ellen Von Unwerth and Mick Rock on editorial and advertising shoots, and world-renowed singers and celebrities, including Céline Dion and Alanis Morisette.

    Julie's methods are wide-ranging and imaginative. From effortless natural looks to dramatic styles, even when creativity's limits are pushed to the extreme, her main focus in fashion is always to reveal the beauty of a face. "The challenge of designing makeup for a Cirque du Soleil show is to go beyond beauty to reveal character," she says. Every face is a new inspiration, and when it all works you're actually revealing more than the person, you're able to catch a glimpse of their soul."

    Julie's designs for OVO called for an evocation of the insect world. "I wasn't given a precise mandate," she says. "But I knew I didn't want to simply reproduce actual insect heads. I took the rather stark designs of the Bauhaus and the sculptor Alexander Calder as my starting points, but as the production evolved I drew back from the abstractions of those sources of inspiration and arrived at something more organic, perhaps more inspired by the work of Gaudí or the Organic Abstractionists. This quote form Antony Gromley sums it up nicely: My work is an attempt to materialize the place at the other side of appearance where we all live."

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