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Cirque Éloize: Its playground is the whole planet!

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Cirque Éloize is known for having dramatized acrobatics. Photo: Laurence Labat

Originally from the Magdalen Islands, Jeannot Painchaud, President and Chief Creative Officer of Cirque Éloize, considers himself an islander above all. For him, in one way, this means being interdependent. “When you hold a trapeze for a partner, in some way, you hold their life in your hands,” he said. In another way, it means having a taste for adventure.

It was this taste for adventure that led Mr. Painchaud to found what would become one of the first circus companies in the world to embark on an international indoor tour. In the early 1990s, when Cirque Éloize was starting out, the choice to perform at a venue that was not under a tent was a bold one, as was the choice to theatricalize acrobatics.

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The most recent circus show, Seul ensemble, is carried by the musical universe of Serge Fiori.

Combining circus arts with music, dance and theatre, Cirque Éloize has now done more than 5,500 performances in over 550 cities around the globe. The Montréal based circus art company has performed in all of the major cities of the world, but what Mr. Painchaud is most proud of is the resounding and unequivocal success that Cirque Éloize has had in France.

“We toured the country and performed in 69 French cities, including eight times in Paris,” he said. “We are probably the Canadian performing arts company with the strongest presence in France.”

The expansion of Cirque Éloize’s has not been without its challenges. In order to secure funding and distribution platforms, one needs to be known beyond Canadian borders. On this subject, Mr. Painchaud emphasized the importance of the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service.

“The support of trade commissioners in Canadian embassies and consulates, whether in Paris, New York or Edinburgh, has been one of the keys to the growth of Cirque Éloize,” he said. “This has allowed us to participate in market conferences, which are meeting places for show buyers and sellers.”

As with any other product, trade shows are a golden opportunity for performing arts companies to network and make themselves known on the international stage. Mr. Painchaud is now looking to expand into South America with the contemporary circus company.

“We have the opportunity to make an art form where it is not necessary to speak the language of the host country,” he said. “As a result, our playground, it’s the whole planet!”

He welcomes Canada’s new free trade agreements, including the new North American Free Trade Agreement and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union.

“Clearly these agreements are fundamental,” he said. “The cross border distribution of cultural products is essential.”

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