It all began for Jeannot Painchaud in 1984 when he left his small island home in Canada to see the Tall Ships in Quebec City.
“I’ve always loved traveling and that was just the beginning for me,” says Painchaud, artistic and creative director as well as the co-founder of Cirkopolis, the Montreal-based troupe Cirque Eloize, headlining at the Merriam Theater through Sunday, March 16.
“On the way,” he continued, “I saw the first performance of Cirque du Soleil, and eventually discovered the National Circus School. It was love at first sight.”
Graduating from the school, he soon began touring internationally with a number of circus troupes, including Cirque du Soleil, until he co-founded Cirque Eloize in Montreal in 1993, performing in the company’s different shows for five years. Having been an acrobat, juggler and more, he took on a new role as entrepreneur.
“Cirkopolis was imagined as a crossroads between imagination and reality, between individuality and community, and between limits and possibilities,” Painchaud explained. “The show is driven by the poetic impulse of life, the physical prowess of the circus and its humor, at once serious and light-hearted. Entering Cirkopolis is all about letting go and allowing yourself to be borne aloft by hope.”
Painchaud prides himself on blending artistic disciplines and talented individuals from the four corners of the globe.
“We select each artist based on his skills — artistically and theatrically — and each one has to be spectacular. Then we blend it all together with inventive stage design, an original musical score, and video projections into a highly stylized metropolis setting.”
And it’s obviously worked very well. Since this show began touring in September 2012, it and others before it have received rave reviews from the public and critics alike, and for Painchaud as well.
In 2009, he directed Cirque’s seventh original creation that went on to win the Conseil des Arts de Montreal’s Grand Prix award in 2010. In 2011, Painchaud became the 14th Quebec citizen to be awarded the prestigious Prix Samuel de Champlain, an award presented to two people each year, a Canadian who has best showcased French history or culture, and a French citizen who has best showcased Canadian history or culture. And there have been more awards, each of which give him great pleasure.
To date, the fact that Cirque Eloize has presented more than 4,000 performances in hundreds of cities in 240 countries absolutely delights Painchaud. A hard worker and an adventurer at heart, he said he’s absolutely delighted to be fulfilling his dream of creating magical entertainment and traveling the world.
“For me, both these things mean something very special,” he said. “When I present a show and I know the spectators are holding their breath, then I know I’ve succeeded. And when I get to travel all over the world, discovering different cultures, which had always been a dream of mine, I feel like a very rich and fortunate man.” ••
For times and ticket information, call 215-731-3333.