Gilles Ste-Croix was one of the co-founders of Cirque du Soleil, the world’s largest theatrical production company. As one of its key creative forces over 37 years, he oversaw most creative productions that established their trademark creative signature.
He grew up in a small Quebec town, beginning his professional life as a street performer, stilt walking and breathing fire to entertain crowds. Today, he runs Circo de los Ninos Circus Arts School for children in San Pancho, Mexico.
Early Life and Education
Ste-Croix co-founded a stilt walking group with fellow street performer Guy Laliberte during the early 1980s, in order to raise funds and generate publicity for their act. For this feat, they decided to walk from Baie-Saint-Paul all the way to Quebec City on stilts – a distance of 90 kilometers (56 miles).
“Echassiers de la Baie Enr” opened to moderate success during the summer of 1980 and cemented the dream that would transform this group into the global entertainment and performing arts company that is today known as Cirque du Soleil.
Ste-Croix and Laliberte distinguished themselves from traditional circuses by using dramatization of circus and street theatre techniques to combine them with stunning natural phenomena and ancient peoples’ celebratory traditions to produce captivating, visceral performances that felt authentic yet breathtakingly visceral. This unique aesthetic made them stand out from traditional circuses while leading them down an inimitable creative path, inspiring the development of famous shows such as Saltimbanco, Alegria Mystere Quidam O.
Gilles Ste-Croix, co-founder and vice president of Cirque du Soleil. Under his guidance, Cirque has grown from its origins as a troupe of stilt-walking street performers into one of the world’s leading live entertainment companies.
Ste-Croix and Guy Laliberte began performing together in Baie-Saint-Paul during the early 1980s to entertain tourists and locals with stilt walking, music playing and flame breathing shows.
Laliberte and Ste-Croix used an attention-grabbing publicity stunt to secure funding for their performance group: walking 56 miles from Baie-Saint-Paul to Quebec City on stilts! Their efforts garnered enough press coverage that they were successful in winning a government grant for this endeavour.
It would help them transform their troupe into a circus, leading to them producing shows such as Saltimbanco, Alegria Mystere et Quidam.
Achievement and Honors
Gilles Ste-Croix has earned numerous awards and honors throughout his career. As co-founder of Cirque du Soleil and Director of Creation, as well as founding Circo de los Ninos circus school in Mexico.
Gilles Ste-Croix led his group of stilt walkers on to the streets of Baie-Saint-Paul near Quebec City during the early 1980s. These street performers, known as Les Echassiers de Baie-Saint-Paul, delighted both locals and tourists by performing juggles, dancing, breathing fire breathing acts, as well as music performances to entertain the village residents and passersby.
Cirque du Soleil soon expanded into one of the world’s premier theatrical producers and achieved global fame through its unparalleled global success, opening new avenues for expression and design processes as well as ushering in an altogether new cultural register that is still celebrated today.
Cirque du Soleil co-founder was born in a Montreal suburb and is an avid jogger who prefers spending his free time at his cabin in Quebec, in addition to playing a good game of tennis.
He began his career in the 1980s as a street performer with a troupe that performed stilt walking and music shows around the globe, which eventually lead him to create one of the largest live entertainment companies worldwide.
Gilles Ste-Croix sold his company to American and Chinese investors in 2015. Since then, its finances have become troubled; allegations exist of not paying artists. He has since publicly criticised this direction of the business under new ownership.
Gilles Ste-Croix and Guy Laliberte co-founded Cirque du Soleil. Together they grew a troupe of street performers into one of the world’s largest circus companies – having performed in over 271 cities worldwide.
They earned initial funds by walking 56 miles on stilts from Baie-Saint-Paul to Quebec City to impress the government and secure a grant for their art project – eventually creating the original version of Cirque du Soleil.
Claudia Barilla began modeling swimsuits before transitioning into executive leadership of her husband’s entertainment company. Additionally, Claudia has volunteered with One Drop’s non-profit arm which promotes clean drinking water as a human right.