Debra Brown has been the principal choreographer for Cirque du Soleil since 1987.
Her credits include QUIDAM, ALEGRIA, SALTIMBANCO, NOUVELLE EXPÉRIENCE, CIRQUE RÉINVENTÉ, and the permanent shows "O" and MYSTERE in Las Vegas and LA NOUBA in Orlando.
In 1999, QUIDAM's "Banquine" act, for which she did the choreography, won the prestigious Golden Clown at the 23rd World Circus Festival in Monte Carlo. In 1997 Ms. Brown won the prestigious Bob Fosse Innovative Choreography Award for her ongoing work with the Cirque du Soleil. In 1990, for her work with the Cirque's Four Contortionists, Ms. Brown won the first ever-Soviet Press Award for Most Outstanding Choreographer at the World Circus Festival in Paris. The dancers of MYSTERE were presented with the "1997 Best of Las Vegas" award by Las Vegas Entertainment Magazine.
Ms. Brown has served as choreographer for two world premiere operas: THE GOLDEN ASS for Canadian Opera Company in 1999, and THE GHOSTS OF VERSAILLES in 1991 at the Metropolitan Opera, and again in 1995 at the Chicago Lyric Opera. Also for Chicago Lyric, she has choreographed Wagner's DIE VALKYRIE and DAS RHEINGOLD. Her bungie Rhinemaiden scene in Das Rheingold has inspired a whole new choreographic lexicon in international opera.
Other operas include DAUGHTER OF THE REGIMENT at the Metropolitan Opera in 1995 with Pavarotti; ARIADNE AUF NAXOS at the St. Louis Opera; L'HISTOIRE DU SOLDAT for Théâtre de L'Unité and Ars Nova in Paris, and Murray Shafer's EPITAPH FOR MOONLIGHT with the Vancouver Chamber Choir.
For the Opening of GM Place in Vancouver she choreographed and directed a stunning 26-person aerial ballet to the finale of Turandot. International Special Events Magazine awarded this show both "Most Outstanding Spectacle" and "Best Theatrical Production". And at Opryland Ms. Brown created an aerial extravaganza that rose on the wings of a gospel choir and danced in the midst of a dazzling pyrotechnics display.
Other highlights include the 1985 OPENING CEREMONIES for the first ever WORLD FREESTYLE SKIING CHAMPIONSHIPS in Tignes, France; the 1990 GEMINI AWARDS in Toronto; The COLOUR OF MY LOVE television special and tour with CELINE DION in 1994; and SATIE AND SUZANNE, an award-winning multi-disciplinary film for Rhombus Media in Toronto. This film was nominated for a 1997 GRAMMY AWARD in the category of Best Music Video, Long Form. Other films include BARNEY'S GREAT ADVENTURE and Cirque du Soleil's JOURNEY OF MAN.
Over the years Ms. Brown has continued to define and expand the boundaries of her art, creating and producing APOGÉE, a fifty-minute trampoline-based ballet which premiered in Toronto in 1994. An excerpt of APOGÉE was presented in both Los Angeles and San Francisco at "Passport '96", an AIDS Benefit hosted by Elizabeth Taylor and Magic Johnson. The Apogée Troupe performed at the 1997 NFL Super bowl Party with George Clinton and The P-Funk Band in New Orleans, and has appeared at many prestigious galas throughout North America and Europe.
A winner of eight national choreographic awards in gymnastics, she has choreographed for individuals and teams across North America, including 1984 Olympic Gold Medallist in Rhythmic Gymnastics Lori Fung and, most recently, with the 2000 Canadian Olympic Synchronized Swimming Team.
In 2000-2001, Ms. Brown choreographed Aerosmith's new video JADED as well as their performance at the American Music Awards. She directed / choreographed Creative Overdose of Kinetic Energy (C.O.K.E.), a multi-disciplinary dance cabaret, the gala performance held in honor of the eighteen heads of state attending the APEC Conference and is directing The Summit of the Americas spectacular this April.
Most recently, Ms. Brown worked on the choreographies of part of Madonna’s 2001 Drowned world tour. She also choreographed a tribute to special effects for the 2002 edition of The Academy Awards, in Los Angeles.
ON AIR is the latest creation of Debra Brown, with the Apogée Troupe. This show should begin a world tour in 2002.
Alain S. Gauthier
Alain Gauthier started his career as a gymnast and soon went on to trampoline sports where he joined the Canadian National Team and ranked eighth in the world in 1982. After devoting himself to the sport for over ten years, he joined Le Cirque du Soleil in 1986, performing in "Cirque Reinvente" and "Saltimbanco" He has performed over 1600 shows with the company. Since 1994 he has performed with Debra Brown and Le Groupe Apogee. His career also involves teaching: National Circus School of Montreal, Dynamo theatre, Cirque Eloize, and as an acrobatic choreographer for: "Crescend'O', "Cirque Parasol", the Millenium Dome show held in London, La Damnation de Faust and Zulu Time from Robert Le Page, and C.O.K.E. by Debra Brown, Dick Walsh and Luc Lafortune. Most recently he choreographed for the Summit of the Americas in Quebec.
Dorel Mois was born and raised in Romania. At the age of six he started his gymnastics career in Baia-Mare, and went on in 1993 to study at the National Academy of Physical Education and Sport. From 1988 to present Dorel has won medals in a variety of competitions, most recently winning first place in 2000 at the Aerobics World Championships in Germany. Since 1996 he has been winning medals on the National Sports Aerobics Team. Some highlights include: 1998: 1st place in trio at the Sofia Cup, Bulgaria, 1999 1st place, European Championships and World Cup Series, Germany (to mention a few).
From 1988-1996 he was a member of the Romanian Junior and Senior National Gymnastics Team where he won several international prestigious medals. After 1995 Dorel started to work as a coach in artistic gymnastics in different clubs in Bucharest. In 1997 he started working at the same club as his wife Mariana, where they coach two teams at two different levels, their best result being 5th place as a team at the National Championships. In 1998 he performed throughout Italy with an Italian theatre company on a show titled ELASTESSE. On this show he had the pleasure of working with choreographers: Moses Pendelton, Daniel Ezealow, and David Parsons. He also participated in two fashion shows for ZEGNA SPORT in Italy. The first of the two, was choreographed by David Parsons in July of 1999, and presented in Florence. The second, by Debra Brown in January of 2000 premiered both in Florence and Barcelona.
Laurence Racine Choiniere
Laurence Racine Choiniere has performed in over 3000 shows for the Cirque du Soleil. After joining the National Circus School in Montreal at 8 years old, she was teamed up by the director with three other young girls, Nadine Binette, Jinny Jacinto and Isabelle Chassé, so that Debra Brown could create an act for the end of the year show. Their fate was sealed!
The excitement generated from this promising beginning led, in 1987, to a gound-breaking ten-year stint with the Cirque du Soleil. The "Four Contortionists", as choreographed by Ms. Brown, completely redefined the way that the circus world views contortion. Two numbers were created during this time: the first was included both in the four-year tour of the Cirque's 1990 show, "Nouvelle Experience", and in the "Fascination" tour of 1994. The second, created in response to the girls having grown into teenagers, was for the 1995 European tour of "Saltimbanco". Laurence was also featured in several character roles for these productions. Both these numbers have won international critical acclaim along with several prestigious awards, including Gold Medals at both the World Circus Festival in Monte Carlo and the Cirque du Demain in Paris.
In 1994 Laurence performed in the Grammy-nominated film, "Satie and Suzanne", choreographed by Ms. Brown. Other highlights include the world premiere of C.O.K.E. in 2000, the 1997 and 2000 American Choreography Awards in Los Angeles, the 2000 Women in Film Festival in LA, 2001 Summit of the Americas and many more. In 1998, Laurence assisted Ms. Brown for the creation of the Monglian Contortion number for ‘O’; Cirque's water based show. . She is currently a member of Debra Brown's Apogee and has performed with the troupe throughout Canada and the United States. She also freelances throughout North America.
Sara Renelique, singer and choreographer/dancer, is an artist well known for her authenticity and her diversity. Dancing has been her passion since childhood and she continued to practice it enthusiastically until she became a young adult.
She appeared on screen with the Production Company Cinoque Films, in the videos of Nicolas, Nodéja, Mc G & Cool J and many other artists. Finally, in 1993 she choreographed the dances for Céline Dion’s concert and she also accompanied her on tour to promote her album The Colour of My Love. It was then that she met and started her association with Debra Brown. In addition, Ms. Renelique has worked on the production of Saltimbanco, La Nouba and Dralion as an advisor in choreography and as a dancer.
Her artistic range had already expanded to include singing when she came to the notice of Yaya Diallo, professor of African dancing and musical director of the group Kanza. It was then she became a member of its chorus. After many years of perfecting her talent, she became a background singer of the group Rudeluck and the lead singer of other groups like Eval Manigat & Tchaka, Harold Faustin and the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir. Some of the wide-ranging events that Ms. Renelique has participated in recently are: Les Francofolies, the Festival des Nuits d’Afrique, the Francophone Summit in Moncton, the Fête de la St-Jean franco-ontarienne and the famous WOMEX in Germany.
Nowadays, music is the focus of her life.
Nadia Richer started gymnastics at a very young age and competed for over eight years. She was then inspired by modern circus performances and joined the Montreal National Circus School from which she graduated in 1997 having specialized in cloud swing. She took part in important cultural projects such as the Canada nas Gerais in Brazil, and found herself swinging sixty feet above ground for eighteen of the world's most important leaders at the APEC summit in Vancouver Canada in 1997. With her background as an acrobat, she also performed in hand balancing, Chinese poles, artistic bungees and dance. She was hired to do research for the Cirque du Soleil, and worked as an assistant conceptor for ‘Crescend O’, a water show in Paris. She also participated in the creation of Robert Lepage's La Damnation de Faust. Other credits include C.O.K.E. and the 2001 Summit of the Americas. She has been working with Debra Brown's Apogee for 2 years and has found a new venue in modern dancing.
Emile Therrien was born in Sherbrooke in 1977. At the age of 5 she was already watching "Solid Gold", which inspired her to begin classical ballet. At the age of 7 she switched to gymnastics, and her nine-year career culminated with the title of provincial champion.
In 1993 she joined the Cirque du Soleil with the show "Alegria", performing as an acrobat, dancer and main character. In five years of touring she traveled around the world and participated in over 1600 shows. In 1999 Emilie left the Cirque in search of new artistic experiences. She bases herself in Montreal, where the burgeoning dance and circus companies offer many opportunities and challenges.
Many companies approach Emilie for her multidisciplinary experiences and her nonstop creativity. These include; Les Gens d'R Company, an innovator in the aerial world; Cirque Eloize; "C.reative O.verdose of K.inetic E.nergy" (C.O.K.E.) created by Debra Brown, Dick Walsh and Luc Lafortune, the 2001 Summit of the Americas and Le Groupe Apogee with whom she has been dancing for 2 years.
Juetsu Watanabe has come all the way from Japan to perform with Le Groupe Apogee. He started his dance career at the age of 9 with the karate; he perfected this art by becoming Japan's brown belt champion at that time. Then he moved on to learn various dance forms such as break dancing, jazz, and classical ballet. This included 1 year at the Broadway Dance Center in Ballet Arts. Juetsu has performed major roles in a variety of performances including musicals such as "Dora", directed by Pilippe Decoufle in 1996. He performed first soloist in the ballet "Swan Lake", with the Japan Ballet Association, and has done operas such as "Nabucco", by Santry Hall. Because Juetsu is always looking for new ways to dance and express him, Debra Brown's choreographic style intrigued him greatly. He is happy to be here dancing with Le Groupe Apogee.
Bianca Sapetto, a Los Angeles native, began dancing at three and competed in rhythmic gymnastics for nine years. Bianca became known for her expressiveness and her connection with music throughout her competitive years, which, coupled with her technical skills allowed for such successes as two time U.S. national champion, five time U.S national team member, and 1992 Olympic team member. She soon began her professional career, and in 1995 left Amherst College to join le Cirque du Soleil, with whom she toured for over three years as an aerial artist, dancer, gymnast, and dance captain. She has performed around the world for, among others, the Grammy awards, The Tonight Show, Good morning America, the Summit of the Americas, Sanyo, Miss Universe, Apogee and various films.
José Castro was born in Cordoba, Argentina, in a family of musicians, dancers and singers. He started his career at the age six. A winner of many National championship of Malambo, in Argentina, he joined a company and toured in Europe for many years.
José Castro is a dancer and choreographer of the rhythms of his country but more particularly of tango. His origins are his main inspiration. Although, his artistic range has expanded with the influence of many artistic experiences over the last 15 years and contributed to the creation of his own dance vocabulary.
He has worked many years in France with the Argentinean director Alfrédo Aria, in Canada with Debra Brown and in Japan with world renowned star dancers of the Paris Opera, Patrick Dupont and Monique Lourdières
Most recently, he is touring with his new creation "Un tango pas comme les autres" that portrays the emotions of a dancer and is a rich journey of his many artistic experiences.
François Isabelle is an accomplished acrobat who benefited from 13 years of training in gymnastics. He made his debut in performing arts as a street entertainer with a speciality act in acrobatics. He eventually joined Le Cirque du Soleil where he was involved in the development of the famous show "O", running in Las Vegas. As an actor, he worked with Dynamo Théâtre Company, performing in a number of their productions in Canada as well as in Europe and Japan. His talent and interest in hip-hop, "capoeira" and modern dance brought him about to be part of the high-profile French musical Notre-Dame de Paris directed by Gilles Maheu.
Montreal-based musician LG Breton has continuously been creating and performing music in countless situations. In recent years, LG Breton has scored two contemporary ballets ("Les 10 Commandements", 1998 and "Epitaphe", 1999). He also co-composed, arranged and conducted a rock opera celebrating the 300th anniversary of the city of Rimouski, Canada ("Opera roc & fleuve", 1996) while, to this day, remaining constantly active as a studio musician on various other projects (albums, film scores etc.).
But LG also deeply enjoys performing before an audience and therefore keeps on playing live as often as possible. He's already toured Quebec many times over, Ontario and most of Europe as part of bands of all styles (Pop, Rock, R&B, World, Swing etc.) or within multi-performance acts such as "C.O.K.E." (2000).
These days, apart from producing other artists, LG Breton is in the process of recording his first solo album as a singer/songwriter! Watch for its release in the coming year...
Pierre is a talented singer who’s been working professionally on the music scene since 1984. He is mostly known for his studio work; jingles, back vocals for different artists and, since 1990, he’s been singing on French versions of Disney’s animated movies (more than 20 of them and counting !). Even if he works mostly in recording studios, he can’t say no when he has a chance to perform live on stage. Rock, jazz, blues. he swims through the musical styles with ease and taste. So far, “On Air” is the show that allows him to go beyond everything else he’s done before.
Dominic Dagenais (a.k.a. KSB) is a multi-faceted artist. First of all as a singer and songwriter , producing a wide range of musical pieces that can go from pop to highly experimental electronic music. Another area of expertise is as a freelancer guitarist with live experience playing bass, percussion, keyboards, and other electronic devices. He also has an unusual strength as an acrobat and trampolinist. As a member of the Canadian national trampoline team at the beginning of the nineties, he took part in many international competitions. The combination of the trampoline skills and very creative guitar playing , gives him a unique form expression that is sure to leave its mark on audiences.
Danny, a very talented musician comes from a musical family and learned music at an early age from his mother, a piano teacher, and his father, a well-known folk singer.
Danny’s work is influenced by many styles and his skills include playing piano, guitar, bass and percussion. During a recent stay in Haiti, he learned traditional Haitian rhythms excelling in ‘Maman Tambour’, an instrument used in traditional music ensembles.
Danny is also a talented composer, writing the songs that are performed in a duo that he formed with Sara Renelique. His is a very personal style that is a mix of both traditional and contemporary influences. Well-known within the Montreal musical scene, Danny has performed for the Francofolies Festivities at Club Soda, La Clarifête, Saint-Jean Baptist Parade and the Outaouais International Film Festival. He is also Director of musical programs for ‘Off the hour’ at radio station CKUT.
Danny hopes to travel the world performing and sharing his music on international stages.
Composer and keyboards
Pierre Laurendeau was born on December 18, 1960 in Montreal, Canada. He has been expressing his creative talent through musical compositions since adolescence. His musical fields of interest then arrange from the British Progressive Rock groups and the Quebec singer/songwriters of the 70's to the more traditional repertoires.
In 1980, after getting a college degree in Film Studies from CEGEP St-Laurent, he begins his musical training on the harpsichord at college Marguerite-Bourgeois in Montreal. In 1985, after adding musical composition to his ongoing harpsichord training, he received a bachelor degree in music from University of Montreal. In the three years that followed, he worked as a Harpsichord player while playing keyboards in the rock group "Boycut"; always-exploring new artistic rounds and forms.
Although a classically trained musician, today his music is created using both acoustic instruments and the state of the art devices in all great freedom.
In the fall of 1988, the release of the instrumental album "Le lion du matin" (on Horizon 21) officially launches Pierre's career as a composer. Since then, Pierre has been active on the Quebec musical scene, with appreciation by both critics and public. The music he composed for the French CBC Television's 40th Anniversary was truly a high point in his career.
In 1997 he was rewarded with an "Excellence Video Achievement Award" in the category for best music. His compositions have been used for the following documentaries: "La Guadeloupe...l'ile aux energies", "Le matin des Alpaqueros" and the "Latitude Sud" series.
Pierre has been collaborating with Debra for 7 years now in Apogee and most recently on C.O.K.E. and On Air.
After she finished the theatre program at the St. Hyacinthe CEGEP in 1983, Mireille Vachon designed costumes mainly for the stage and for children’s theatre. She soon added dancing, music, variety shows, television, the circus, and opera to her repertory and she involved herself in a wide-range of special events that stimulated her creativity.
Her recent contribution to the cultural evening in honor of the Heads of State at the Summit of the Americas has to be mentioned. She has also been involved with the following productions in recent months: La Grande Paix, closing show at the Francofolies; Qu’est-ce qu’on attend pour être heureux at the Théâtre d’Eastman; Mémoire vive, a play at the Théâtre des deux Mondes; Le Nozze di Figaro, presented by the Opera McGill; the sixth Soirée des Masques; and the show Les Légendes Fantastiques, at Drumondville.
Ms. Vachon is now preparing the costumes for the play Les Trois Mousquetaires at the Théâtre Denise-Pelletier and also for Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, which shall be presented at a later date at the Opera McGill.
Guillaume Lord is one of the most active set designers in Montreal. During the past 10 years he has designed no less than 20 sets for plays and operas produced by some of Quebec's most prestigious theatre and opera companies. His magnificent and gigantic decor for Botho Strauss' Le Temps et la chambre, produced by TNM, earned him critical acclaim as well the Prix Gascon-Roux and the highly coveted Masque from the Quebec Theatre Academy.
He has worked with many of Quebec's prominent theatre and opera directors such as Claude Poissant, Lorraine Pintal, Serge Denoncourt and André Brassard.
For dance he has created the sets for choreographers such as Ginette Laurin and her dance company O'Vertigo. Most recently, he has designed many decors for ballets by Jean Grand-Maître including for the Paris Opera Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, Munich Ballet, The Norwegian Ballet, La Scala and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. In addition, he is the artistic director of a film on Vivaldi and La Gala des étoiles, a documentary on great contemporary dancers.
He is presently working on the set for Cirque Eloize's next production that will begin a world tour in 2002.
True originality, the surpassing of expectations and the ability to keep audiences guessing are all part of the approach Luc Lafortune takes to lighting design. Since 1984, when his career with Cirque du Soleil began, he has always worked closely with the set designer and director. Lafortune transforms their vision and influences the spectator’s perception rather than simply illuminating the action. He sets the tone for Cirque du Soleil acts by "sculpting" spectators' emotions and reinventing the essence of light. It is the chiaroscuro, he believes, that is the lighting designer's anvil, for it creates contrasts in hues, angles and beams that draw the focus and transform a scene from humorous excitement to tragedy.
Lafortune has won numerous awards including Lighting Designer of the Year in 1994 for Saltimbanco at the 7th Annual Gala of the Lighting Dimensions International Conference. In 1992, he received the Los Angeles critics’ Drama-Logue Award for best lighting system. And last but not least, in 1998 Luc was granted the Entertainment Design "Production of the Year " award for "O".
In addition to his career with the Cirque du Soleil, Luc Lafortune created lighting designs for the music industry. Recently, he collaborated with such groups as No Doubt, The Dixie Chicks and The Eagles.
From Montreal, Jean Laurin is a graduated student of a theatre school where he learned set and lighting design from 1989 to 1992. After his studies, he went to France to learn more about lights at l'École du Theatre National de Strasbourg. Then, he came back to Canada where he worked freelance for several years doing lighting for theatre, dance companies, rock concerts and TV shows. The big surprise arrived in 1996 when Le Cirque du Soleil was looking for a light board operator. He was supposed to tour Europe for 6 months . This ended up to be a 5 years touring trip around the world working on Saltimbanco and Alegria. He recently joined Apogeé and he is looking forward to work with dancers again.