Cirque du Soleil headquarters in Montréal (Photo: Tess Tavener Hanks)

Cirque du Soleil headquarters in Montréal (Photo: Tess Tavener Hanks)

The Cirque du Soleil headquarters is a bubbling hub of creative talent and inspiration that runs throughout the entire building, with every department even more fascinating than the last.

On my first day I toured the different divisions that make up the Montreal head office. Multiple training studios, rehearsal stages, the props, millinery and textile departments all blend together to create a unique work environment. Rooms filled with 3D printers, sublimation printers and an array of different types of machinery. It was a dream come true for a fashion design student! Even the walls are an art gallery complete with unique sculptures, paintings and posters of past shows that hold a rich historical connection to the building.

Working in the props department  (Photo: Tess Tavener Hanks)

Working in the props department (Photo: Tess Tavener Hanks)


For the first three days I was ba
sed in the props department where I worked on a prototype for Cirque du Soleil’s new show LUZIA with my mentor Francis. With over sixteen years of experience he gave me a direct insight to the challenges and rewarding experiences that are often associated with the daily expectations of the Cirque team. Throughout the first week I circulated between the props and textile department where I began working with different stretch fabrics and watching fittings. During this period I also worked on the construction of a new costume that blends the use of electronic motors and traditional pleating techniques. That at times had over twenty people working together each using their expertise to develop the best possible solution to the design process.

 I also had the privilege of attending a wearable tech conference with the guest speaker- Katia Vega. Paralleling my recent studies at university we discussed the possibilities that wearable technology could have in changing the way we use our bodies. Differing perspectives and innovative ideas contributed to a thought- provoking group discussion, which was at times interrupted by watching the acrobats popping up and down past the glass windows of our meeting room.

Winter in Montreal: outside my apartment (Photo: Tess Tavener Hanks)

Winter in Montreal: outside my apartment (Photo: Tess Tavener Hanks)

With one week complete in my internship I am in awe of how each member of the Cirque team seamlessly works together with such quality and precision. Every day is jam- packed with exciting new projects and I am grateful to the incredibly welcoming people that have taken the time to guide me through each process and technique. I am sure it will be a learning experience treasured for a long time to come.

– Tess Tavener Hanks, February 2016