Eric Langlois: Raising a New Generation of Circus Artists

Eric Langlois Profile Picture

Eric Langlois is the Executive Director at the National Circus School in Montreal, Quebec. 

The National Circus School (NCS) is a school for higher education in the arts and offers curriculum in music, dance and theatre.  NCS also offers academic subjects at the secondary and college levels.

One of our own podcast guests, Anny Laplante graduated from there and since then she has performed with Cirque du Soleil and Circus 1903 in several highly reviewed traveling shows.

NCS is the only circus school in the Americas to offer professional programs in circus arts. It also prepares professional circus arts educators. 

Because it's unlike any other traditional educational institutions, it piqued our interest to get on board and find out exactly what they do, and why. 

Listen

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My executive producer, Adam Leffert and I drove nearly 6 hours from Boston to Montreal to visit the school. Across the street is the World Headquarter of Cirque du Soleil.  Eric was generous with his time and insights. Joined as a Strategic Director 9 years ago in 2008, Eric worked closely with just about every department you can name at NCS. 

Eric told us that NCS is training more entrepreneurs, not just artists. Students who graduate from the NCS need to perform a final act, created on their own, in front of a public audience. Eric believes that as an educator, he needs to help facilitate artistic talents and innovation. It's an iterative process. NCS constantly reflects on how they can better support the students, and further develop the right attitude and the ability for students to see. 

I just came back from a weekend of altMBA workshop with Seth Godin and 200 altMBA graduates. One of the most memorable lessons I learned was that attitude is a skill, and that skill can be learned. Imagine that, if art schools not only teach students the technical side of things, but coach them to see and think differently, that'd be a world win, wouldn't it. 

This episode is created for those of you who love art, appreciate art and continue to involve in and support artistic initiatives. Even if you aren't a circus artist yourself (most of us aren't), this is a window to a world you haven't seen or experienced firsthand. 

To learn more about the National Circus School, please visit their website: http://ecolenationaledecirque.ca/en

 

Show Notes

  • [06:00] Tell us a little bit about your background. Who are you? How did you find your way into this position?
  • [07:30] How long have you been working at this school?
  • [08:30] What are some of the changes you have seen at the school in the past decade?
  • [13:00] (Adam) How do you foster creativity from your artists without taking the joy from what they are doing?
  • [18:00] How do students plan their future while still not knowing what they like the most?
  • [22:00] (Adam) How do you share your knowledge and experience with the world? You’ve been working on this for many years, how do you spread the word and your research?
  • [26:00] How had people resonated with your story and stories from your students? How do you check the progress of your graduates and use that feedback?
  • [30:00] (Adam) Younger people (millennials) learn differently and they have a different perspective towards discipline. How is this affecting the school and the market?
  • [32:00] Adam and Eric commenting about how the artistic careers have changed, and how the school shifted to adapt that.
  • [34:00] Adam, Eric and Fei discussing about how entrepreneurship became very popular among young people, and how that be applied to graduates from the school.

Favorite Quotes

  • [07:00]  What we are doing is, we are training people that will go out of the program with an act. Mastering the techniques in their discipline with a very strong way of saying things. That’s how the training program is designed.
  • [15:00] When we are reflecting on our program and what we provide to the students, it’s a niche, they way we do it, and we still believe we should keep that track. Because they are highly skilled in what they do, but they are also multidisciplinary artists.
  • [19:00] I’ve head from experts to say, You can work and live well in circus, if you are highly skilled, if you are a wonderful artist, very creative/innovative, or if you have a charisma. If you have any of those things, you can have a career. Then they’ll master the techniques really fast.
  • [32:00] The role of the school is to easy their knowledge of themselves, of where they are, and to provide them with tools.
 

Acknowledgements/Music

  • Song: Johnny Easton - The Artist’s Hands. Video Link

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