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.