Montreal's circus scene is comprised of three distinct but related elements: The Cirque du Soleil, the National Circus School and La TOHU, the City of Circus Arts. Located in Montreal’s northwest neighborhood of Saint - Michel, the reclaimed landfill site has revitalized the community and become a tourist destination in itself.
Accessible from the Lionel Groulx metro station, the site deserves at least an afternoon's visit. Lucky visitors may also catch a performance of the famed Cirque du Soleil if the troupe is in town. The yearly graduate show from the National Circus School often hosts free shows.
Cirque du Soleil:
Housed in The City of Circus Arts, the world famous Cirque du Soleil employs graduates of the National Circus School located on the same site.
The one-ring circus sans elephants and tigers focuses on trapeze theatrics with original live music that are presented as a play with each act following and expanding on the ideas of the previous one.
Started in 1984 with just 20 street artists from a small Quebec town, the circus now employs more than 1000 artists from around the world and puts on 18 shows a year.
Montreal's National Circus School:
Until The National Circus School opened in Montreal in 1981, there was no contemporary circus school in the western world, despite the growing demand for professionally trained contemporary circus artists.
The school offers advanced training in music, dance, theater as well as training for circus instructors and trainers. Students aged nine to professional adult performers can also take academic courses.
Successful graduates are placed with the Cirque du Soleil who seek performers capable of firing the imagination of the troupe and international audiences.
A summer recreational program is available for those aged 9-19.
La TOHU roughly translated from a Quebecois expression, means pandemonium as is often reflected in the shows.
To offer the public innovative circus arts, La TOHU (the City of Circus Arts) now has its own public pavilion at the corner of Jarry and Iberville Streets, in the northern section of Montreal. The building houses the first circular performance hall in Canada specifically built for circus arts, an exhibition room, a reception hall and an artists' workshop.
In the spirit of giving back to the community, La TOHU often presents free shows.