The next morning, I took some time to explore Montreal’s shopping along St. Catherine Street, which was just a few blocks from the hotel. This street has everything you would want in big-city shopping (from H&M to Gucci to department stores). After finding several dresses that had to come home with me, we were off to the Circus Complex for our afternoon circus-learning sessions.
We started at the National Circus School Montreal (www.nationalcircusschool.ca) where potential circus artists can come and train (as early as age 9 for part-time learning and 12-16 for full time students). They have 140 total students in total from various countries. I even met a girl who is from Florida while there. We watched students working out and also rehearse for performances, which was quite interesting. We also had our own “workout” as we couldn’t resist laying in the foam pool. As we left the building, a student was walking in carrying his bicycle...a unicycle....not something you se at your typical school.
Next stop: Cirque du Soleil headquarters that employs about 4,000 people from 40 different countries. We got an amazing behind-the-scenes tour of the various gyms, training rooms, make up room, costume department (wigs, shoes, headdresses, outfits) and the scheduling department (just the interpreters’ schedules alone were overwhelming). About 30 different people work with each circus artist, including a massage therapist, nutritionist, interpreter, coach, physical therapist, etc. Each performer is responsible for learning how to do his/her own make up. They also have three full sets of costumes for each performer. Cirque has 400 costume artists, produce each wig hair-by-hair and order 80% of their fabric in white (which means they custom dye most of the costumes you see on stage). This company is like nothing I have seen before!!!
After being completely blown away by the Cirque tour, we were ready for our own trapeze lessons by Carpe Diem at La Tohu (www.tohu.ca). We all practiced on the ground before getting harnessed up and climbing the big ladder. We were assured it was much harder to put your legs over the bar while on the ground than it would be in the air. However, there is a reason why trapeze artists are short and my long legs just didn’t want to cooperate! Although I didn’t follow directions very well and failed to hang upside down, Sharron named me Easy Trapeze and I was happy.
More eating please!!! Dinner at Restaurant Le Quartier General (www.LeQuartierGeneral.ca) was next on our agenda. This neighborhood bistro offers regional dishes that change with the season and promote local farmers and ranchers from Quebec. My Canteloupe Soup and Entrecote de Beouf 1855 was delicious. Dominic was a huge help is assisting with our choices as Ben decided he looked like Simon LeBon from Duran Duran. Dominic said he prefers Jonathan Rhys-Meyers instead. Our game of Celebrity Cross Ups (courtesy of my friend Mandy L.) was successful and is now a huge hit in Montreal.