FLY­ING HIGH

Mon­treal’s con­tem­po­rary Cirque Éloize cel­e­brates 25 years of show­cas­ing ac­ro­batic arts in the­atres around the world

Canadian Geographic - - CONTENTS - Pho­tog­ra­phy by Chris­tian Fleury with text by Michela Rosano

Mon­treal’s con­tem­po­rary Cirque Éloize cel­e­brates 25 years of show­cas­ing ac­ro­batic arts in the­atres around the world

IIN ACADIAN FRENCH, éloize refers to flashes of heat light­ning on the hori­zon. That en­ergy is the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind one of Canada’s most suc­cess­ful cir­cus arts com­pa­nies, Mon­treal-based Cirque Éloize, which cel­e­brates its 25th an­niver­sary this year. Dur­ing its quar­ter cen­tury in busi­ness, the com­pany has de­liv­ered more than 5,500 in­ti­mate the­atri­cal cir­cus per­for­mances in 50 coun­tries. While it may share the same home­town as world-renowned Cirque du Soleil, Éloize has forged its own path. “We were among the first to pro­pose a con­cept for the­atres, rather than a big top,” says Jean­not Pain­chaud, Éloize’s pres­i­dent and chief cre­ative of­fi­cer. “My goal was to al­ways try to rein­vent the cir­cus by invit­ing col­lab­o­ra­tors from other art forms to chal­lenge us as acro­bats,” he says. “That was the be­gin­ning of a move­ment that’s be­come very large.” This year, Éloize is per­form­ing four dif­fer­ent shows in 46 cities. Two of these shows were de­vel­oped spe­cially for this an­niver­sary year. The first, Nezha, will be per­formed in a 360-de­gree out­door am­phithe­atre in Shaw­ini­gan, Que., ev­ery sum­mer for the next three years. Part cir­cus per­for­mance and part play in­spired by a Chi­nese le­gend, the show is writ­ten and di­rected by the­atre ac­tor Frédéric Bélanger and tells the story of an or­phan left alone on an is­land of pirates through dance, ac­ro­bat­ics and vis­ual pro­jec­tions. The sec­ond, Ho­tel, is the troupe’s new­est tour­ing show, in­spired by their ex­pe­ri­ences on the road. It starts pre­views in Au­gust and the Cana­dian pre­miere will be held in Mon­treal on Novem­ber 14. Mean­while, a smat­ter­ing of lo­cal events in Mon­treal and fes­ti­val per­for­mances in France, Le­banon, Ge­or­gia and the United States will cap off this year’s cel­e­bra­tions. What does the fu­ture hold? Pain­chaud says he wants to sup­port the com­mu­nity that’s given so much to him. “I want to cre­ate con­di­tions for the young gen­er­a­tion to con­tinue to de­velop con­tem­po­rary cir­cus … where ev­ery­one can re­al­ize their po­ten­tial.”

PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY CHRIS­TIAN FLEURY WITH TEXT BY MICHELA ROSANO

Kas­san­dra Lebel prac­tices the aerial dis­ci­pline known as corde lisse near Cirque Éloize’s am­phithe­atre in Shaw­ini­gan, Que.

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