Makeup Designer Nathalie Gagné has been fascinated by makeup and its influence on the actor’s craft since her teens. She studied theatre production at Cégep de Saint-Hyacinthe, a community college in Quebec, then went on to become one of the first graduates of the Montreal subsidiary of the famed Paris-based makeup school École Christian Chauveau.
Before joining Cirque du Soleil, Gagné worked in theatre, film and television. She was twice nominated for a Gémeau award for best makeup, all categories combined. The honor is conferred by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television.
“Makeup is a reflection of the character’s soul. It’s also a magic wand that sweeps away inhibitions,” says Gagné, who since 1995 has crafted more than 200 separate makeup designs for Cirque. Her final concepts were culled from over 2,000 sketches.
Since Cirque performers have to apply their own makeup, Nathalie Gagné involves them in the actual creation of their onstage look. “Unlike actors, acrobats aren’t used to studying their own faces,” she says. “One of my goals is to get them to do just that, and help them find within themselves what I call ‘lines of force’ that will serve to build their characters.”
Nathalie Gagné is also responsible for ensuring the integrity of all makeup designs that bear her signature. Since the performers apply their own makeup, workshops in makeup techniques are now part of the general training provided to Cirque du Soleil artists. Gagné first teaches performers how to do their own makeup, and then writes a step-by-step application guide for each of them.
Nathalie introduced new makeup concepts to the shows Mystère, Alegría and Saltimbanco, which led her to work with director Franco Dragone and costume designer Dominique Lemieux. Following her work on Quidam, “O”, La Nouba, Varekai, Zumanity, KÀ, Corteo, Delirium, LOVE, ZAIA and CRISS ANGEL Believe™ is Nathalie Gagné’s eleventh contribution to the creation of a Cirque du Soleil show.
"To establish the rich, ripe characters in CRISS ANGEL Believe™, we worked the way we do in film, – designers and artists building together – to invent each of the personalities,” says Nathalie. By using costumes and projections as components of the makeup, we are looking to create a crazy but perfectly credible universe. We wanted to turn the improbable into the plausible. "
Nathalie Gagné was born in 1963 in Trois-Pistoles, in the Lower St. Lawrence region of Quebec.