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The Krider Prize for Creativity was awarded to Jeannot Painchaud of Cirque Éloize. Jeannot accepted the award at the UCDA Design Conference in Montreal, Quebec, in October 2012.

It all started with a backpacking trip. In 1984, Jeannot Painchaud left his native Magdalen Islands to see the Tall Ships in Quebec City. On the way, he stopped in Gaspé where Cirque du Soleil was presenting its first show. This was in June. In September, in Montreal, he discovered the National Circus School. A unique, mysterious, exotic and totally wonderful world. It was love at first sight.

While he worked on getting his diploma, he took up street performance: juggling, unicycling, acrobatic cycling — what better training than being interesting enough to convince passersby to stop, watch and toss a coin into the hat? He continued to perform on the streets for 12 years, even after founding Cirque Éloize.

1992 was a big turning point. He went to Japan with the Cirque du Soleil show Fascination and won a bronze medal at the Festival mondial du Cirque de demain in Paris for an artistic cycling act. A few months after his return to Canada, he founded his own circus. In the early years, he performed as an acrobat, juggler and comedian while simultaneously serving as artistic director, but he left the ring for good in 1998 to focus on the development and artistic direction of Éloize and staging performances.

An adventurer at heart, Jeannot believes that risk is the core of every good number. If the spectators hold their breath, you’ve succeeded. But the circus is also poetry, humour, energy and sensitivity. As a pioneer in the modern circus movement, he draws freely from other art forms: dance, classical music, theatre. He also works with designers from other worlds: from Daniele Finzi Pasca (Nomade, Rain, Nebbia) to Dave St-Pierre (Cirkopolis) to Alain Francoeur (Cirque Orchestra) and Jamie Adkins (Typo). Multidisciplinarity is a crucial quality for any artist who wants to take part in a Cirque Éloize show.

Jeannot has two passions: the ring and the Magdalen Islands. In 2003, he brought the two together by founding North America’s first circus festival in the place he grew up. In 2006, he was in charge of the acrobatic numbers at the closing ceremonies for the Olympic Games in Torino, Italy. As the company prepared to celebrate its 20th anniversary, Jeannot Painchaud branched out into other activities. In 2011, he took part in the Big-Bang exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The Musée de la civilisation de Québec asked him to take charge of the artistic direction of its next exhibition, opening in summer 2013. And since 2009, he has chaired the board of En Piste, the national circus arts network.

In 2012, Jeannot assumed the roles of artistic director and, along with Dave St-Pierre, co-director for Cirkopolis, Cirque Éloizes ninth original creation.

Positioned at the heart of the renewal of circus arts, Cirque Éloize has been creating moving performances filled with magic since 1993. Continually striving for artistic perfection, it is one of the leaders in contemporary circus arts. Based on the multidisciplinary talents of its artists, Cirque Éloize expresses its innovative nature through theatricality and humanity, and combines circus arts with music, dance, and theatre in a path-breaking and original manner.

“Cirque Éloize has been key to the rebirth of interest in circus arts around the globe. Painchaud's innovative spirit and unique approach to combining circus arts with music, dance, and theatre, has captivated new audiences and drawn renewed appreciation for circus arts and multidisciplinary performers,” Barbara Esmark, committee chair of the Krider Prize for Creativity stated. “The UCDA Foundation believes that Painchaud's creativity and passion enabled him to reach not only his own dreams as an artist, but to go beyond the establishment and growth of Cirque Éloize, to nurture the dreams of others through the Éloize Foundation and its work. It is for these reasons, among many others, that we have chosen Jeannot Painchaud for this award.”


Photo of Jeannot Painchaud at the UCDA Design Conference by Matthew Lester.