His beginnings

GUY LALIBERTÉ

Date of birth: September 2, 1959

City: Québec

Family: Eldest of two children

René Lévesque, then the Premier of Québec, and Guy Laliberté

under the Big Top of the Cirque du Soleil (1984)
Photo credit : Archives nationales du Québec

A MODERN-DAY STREET ENTERTAINER

Guy Laliberté is a born artist-entrepreneur. He inherited an innate business sense from his father, and a deep love of the arts and culture from his mother.

In the early 1980s, Guy met Gilles Ste-Croix and Daniel Gauthier and joined Les Échassiers de Baie-Saint-Paul, a street theatre company, as an entertainer and fire-eater. In 1984, Guy set out to produce an ambitious show for the 450th anniversary of Jacques-Cartier’s arrival in Canada. He presented Le grand tour, which travelled across Québec showcasing his troupe’s tremendous creativity. And thus, Cirque du Soleil was born.

Cirque du Soleil Big Top in Baie-Saint-Paul (1984)
Photo credit : Cirque du Soleil Archives

From the outset, Guy Laliberté’s goal was to turn Cirque du Soleil into a lucrative, internationally acclaimed enterprise. In 1987, at the Los Angeles Festival, he daringly presented his latest creation, Le Cirque réinventé, even though he lacked the funds to return to Canada should it fail. It was a gamble that paid off. The experiment proved successful with journalists and the public alike, allowing Cirque du Soleil to take flight.

Clip from Guy Laliberté’s interview, cercle des grands entrepreneurs du québec – only available in french

We weren’t scared, we had our eye on globalization, our market was the world

Guy Laliberté