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October 08, 2010  | by: Karine Idrissi

If you’ve never had the chance to see a Cirque du Soleil Show, I highly encourage it. I had the ultimate pleasure of getting a private tour of the Montreal offices of this breathtaking circus experience. Having seen a number of their shows here in Montreal, I was not prepared for how mind-blowing their headquarters would be. What started out as a small group of street performers and acrobats, turned into an artistic phenomenon that has taken over the world. The founders Guy Laliberte and Gilles Ste-Croix have created a self-sufficient company that anybody would be lucky to work for. For those of you who have always wanted to stay young at heart and wish you could get those kindergarden mid-day nap times back, well if you worked for this circus, you could! I kid you not, they have hammocks strategically placed within their enormous building that have a welcoming sign that says: “Relax and Unwind”.

More impressively is the art work that cover every inch of space throughout the building; you almost find yourself forgetting that this is a workplace for over 1200 people and not a museum.  This work space has everything you could possibly imagine, seeing as this is the head quarters for EVERY show produced around the world; two cafeterias, practice space, library, screening room, outdoor seating for break time etc. From costumes to pattern making, everything is done within the Cirque du Soleil confines, they even produce their own bottled water! In the coolest and eco-friendly way, there’s a private events room that has a funnel piercing threw the ceiling that retains rain water and makes it’s way to the workers who filter and bottle it for their fellow employees. The details and modern techniques that are put into the makings of this company are examplary.

Hard at Work on the Beautiful Costumes, Montreal.

Liz Vandal, Costume designer backstage of OVO

Entertainers from ALEGRIA

I was completely mezmerized as my friend showed me the two atriums where each show is practiced and perfected over the course of two years, during which they also have to learn how to do their own makeup. Across the street you can find a circus school that is partially funded by the Canadian Government and the appartment building for all of the foreign entertainers. I was told that there are entire families who participate in the circus and have done so from generation to generation. They even have an on-site schooling for those who are of age.

Artist Residence

Practice Session, Montreal

You truly have to be a kid at heart to work for Cirque du Soleil because they push the boundaries of imagination and this can be seen throughout every department. The personalities of their employees are splashed over every cubicle that is beautifully decorated in true circus fashion; the myridade of colors and even old circus set designs can be seen in someone’s work space or plastered on the walls of the building, oh let’s not forget the random fire pits! I even witnessed a seating area that was made of alligator skin and decorated with horse hair dating back thousands of years. Don’t even doubt the genius minds that work at Cirque du Soleil; you will never cease to be impressed.

There is no such thing as a boring day when you’re working for the circus!

Karine Idrissi

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