It all began as a wild dream in Baie-St-Paul, Quebec in 1984. The extraordinary history of Cirque du Soleil is made up of amazing anecdotes, memories and encounters that have touched the lives of millions.
Cirque du Solei all began with the idea to start a street theatre group, and the reason for stilts was that street theatre is done at crowd level.
Stilts came into my life quite by accident while I was goofing around; and as so often happens, you suddenly realize that it makes sense. So don't be shy to mess around.
I was a hippie in the 70's living in a commune in Saint-Adrien-de-Ham that had an orchard where we would pick apples. One day I was thinking it would be nice to have a ladder strapped to my legs. Up and down, up and down all day... Aha! I'm going to make a pair of stilts!
So I made a pair of six-foot-tall stilts, strapped them to my legs, held onto the tree and started picking apples. Pretty soon I got very good at picking the apples; I'd fill a basket and someone would come by and empty it. The whole thing went a lot faster and I would go from tree to tree...
Then one day a friend came by and told me about an ad he saw for a show in Vermont for the Bread and Puppet Theater-a theatre troupe that used stilts but with characters, costumes and everything. I said: "Oh yeah? This I've got to see!" So I went to Vermont to the festival they hold every August, called the Cirque de la Resurrection, where they used giant puppets and stilts in their shows.
I decided then and there that that was what I wanted to do with my life and I wondered, why not in Quebec-I could create a show that includes all the things I saw in Vermont, but do it in the street because no theatre here would go for this concept.
Eventually I found myself in Baie-Saint-Paul (near Quebec City) during the festival season with Daniel Gauthier. We organized events on stilts and danced around. Pierre Bergeron was there as well when we got to the point of saying, "Do we do this or not?"