Julie Desmarais

Julie Desmarais (Publicist): Behind the Scenes at Cirque du Soleil’s Axel (#239)

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Our Guest Today: Julie Desmarais

Julie Desmarais is a publicist at Cirque du Soleil. Originally from Montreal, Julie has been with the company for many years. We met for the first time during CRYSTAL opening in Boston two years ago. Most recently, I interviewed her backstage for the new Cirque du Soleil ice show called AXEL.

After dozens of interviews with circus artists, Julie became the first publicist we interviewed on podcast.

When you meet Julie and no matter how busy she is, she greets you with a big and authentic smile. She loves her work, and that love fuels her creative energy.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • What it means to be a publicist at Cirque du Soleil
  • How Julie became a publicist for the company
  • What it’s like to travel on the road with performers, and how that changes the relationships among people (for the better)
  • How to reinvent yourself in your career
  • How YOU can apply for jobs in and outside of circus roles (costume, accessories, finance, infrastructure and more) at Cirque du Soleil: https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/careers/talent
  • BONUS Career Tip: How to stand out from the crowd and make the right connections for your next career move


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Feisworld podcast helps independent creators live their creative and financial freedom. I’m your host Fei Wu, and I’ll be taking you through a series of interviews with creators from around the world who are living life on their own terms. Show notes, links and ways to connect with the guests are at available on phaseroll.com. Now onto the show. Hey guys, this is Fei, and welcome to another week of the Feisworld podcast. This show helps independent creators live their creative and financial freedom. Those stories of creators expand multiple disciplines and industries, including fine arts, performing arts, photography, music, writing, general content creation such as bloggers, YouTubers and creative entrepreneurs. Well, today we welcome Julie Dimafi who is a publicist. I’m going to refer to her as.

Julie for the rest of this episode.

Julie is from Montreal and she’s been with Cirque du Soleil for a long time. We met for the first time during Christo’s opening in Boston about two years ago. There’s so many shows that Julie has once been involved in, including Cristo and most recently Axel, as well as Varicae Arena and several others. And she is the first publicist we interviewed here on Phase World. When it comes to Cirque, to Soleil, most people imagine that you have to be a performing artist in order to travel and work with this worldclass entertainment empire. That’s far from the truth. In fact, there are many roles that do not require you to fly from under feet, above the ground, or balance on your two fingers. These roles may be behind the scenes as a publicist and others, but they are not any less important or enjoyable. Besides PR, I have met many people who work in design, such as stage design, costume design, operations, music and even food services for Cirque. I didn’t get to eat with the artists during Axel or Cristo, but the food for Volta in Seattle was simply the best. Cirque du Soleil takes nutrition as well as the quality of their food for the artists very seriously.

So keep listening and Julie will reveal some great advice on how you can explore a career at Cirque du Soleil. More importantly, and how to evaluate whether it’s the right job for you and how to make connections and eventually apply. Julie is someone who enjoys, or shall I say loves what she does. She travels with the performers around the world, watches them on and off stage. While Cerk is one of the most wellknown, entertainment companies in the world with decades of experience and practices, so much, what I have witnessed from Cirque’s employees reminds me of the entrepreneurial spirit. We have interviewed many Cirque performers, enough to start a new show called Circus from Phase World on Anchor FM. I learned very quickly that these performers jobs can change, often from show to show, but also company to company as her. Julie has been with the same company for a long time. She too has to reinvent herself and figure things out on her own. She’s constantly thinking about how to do her job better and helping the performers with their lives on the road. What we see on stage is only a small fraction of their real lives emotion.

Thank you so much for listening and giving us this opportunity to connect. I know there are a lot of new listeners here on Phase World and that just could not excite me more. I respond and reply to every single message I get via Phase World, and that is at Phase World Fvis orld everywhere on social media. You can also drop me a personal message, Phase [email protected], and I look forward to hearing from you. If you love this episode, please check out a few others and maybe share with family and friends. That simple act helps us out so much and it goes a long way in promoting and supporting show. Without further ado, please welcome Julie di Mahi to the Faze World podcast.

Hey, Julie, it was so good to see you again.

We follow our adventures on Facebook and.

Each other’s adventures probably yours because you travel a lot more. By the way, what’s your official title for this current show?

I’m a senior publicist, so I handle all media relations, promotional activities and ensuring that we are present in all the news outlets, social media in the city we tour.

Amazing. How many cities have you traveled to so far for this particular show?

For this particular show? Western is our eight stop in the tour. So we started Creation with The Artist in Montreal last June and we did our first stop in Cornwall, Ontario, where I had never performed before. It’s a town that’s located just 45 minutes away from Montreal, and it was really excited to be performing the show. Axel there for the first time with audiences when we’ve been creating and working so hard. And now we’ve been on the road mainly in the United States for seven cities and Worcester being our eight stop. Yeah.

This is where we saw you last time for Crystal.

Exactly, yeah.

What is it like?

I know you worked on a lot of Circ shows. Let just be frank here. And it’s very unique because it’s a second ice show.

Second nice show. Yeah. I’ve been with the company now for nine years. Axel is my fourth tour. I’m very privileged to be able to still do what I do after nine years, but especially with keeping all the passion that I have, that I still have. So every day I still feel like I’m coming to work for my first time and I always see new things and I always see everything with big eyes and my inner child always comes out. So I feel very lucky. But yeah, actually, it’s my fourth tour.

Why do you love your job so much? Because every time I see you, I come here, I’ve never seen you. It’s hard to pretend to love something when you don’t. But you truly, I mean, your joy just comes right from the heart. And last time I was so thankful because we showed up and you’re super busy and I remember we’re at this arena and you gave us this tour.

And you’re so patient.

What’s bringing that joy to you? Why?

I think it’s really the love of what I do. It’s really humbling to work with very talented people on stage and work with people that are not on stage but are behind the scenes that we don’t see, that have this passion. It’s a big privilege. I feel very honored to have this role of being a spokesperson for Cirque du Soleil. How cool is this? It’s a big company. It was founded in 1984 by a group of fashion that wanted to create something new and bring the circus elsewhere. And now Circus, there is 5000 employees all over the world. And I get to be one of these employees and I act as a spokesperson. It can’t be cooler.

And then you said something that really touched my heart, which is you find it to be such a family and you love these people, you see them as sisters. And I know some people here are really young as well. And to me it plays a big part. When I interviewed when I interview Shayna and Gypsy and what I hear from people who work with them and then the people they raised, quote unquote, race and said Shayna would bring them in to her home. We’ll take them out to trigger training for the first time in their lives at the age of 20. What breaks down that barrier of being family?

I think it’s the proximity we have. We spend so much time together. We’re on the road. All of our family on Axel particularly. We’re coming from 22 different nationalities. Our families are at home, we’re on the road. We spend a lot of time together. We work, we eat, we go out together, we travel together in between cities. So the bunding is there when somebody needs a little bit, like just needs a hug. Because it’s tougher to be on the road. I mean, everyone’s there for each other and it’s a feeling that I don’t remember having before joining the Circus. And I’ve been on the road with different company, different circus productions now for nine years and this bonding is still very strong. And every time I see somebody I haven’t seen for several years, it actually feels like it feels like we’ve never left each other. And we pick up of where we left it the last time. And this is a feeling and a sensation that I’ve never felt really before joining Cirque du Soleil. And we experience a lot of things that are new to us, but also new to other people.

You were just telling me you’re somewhere in New York on the train. What happened yeah, it was actually funny.

We were just coming back, we were seeing my boyfriend and I saw Harry Potter, The Curse Child, and we stayed in Brooklyn and we just sat in the Metro, just waiting for our train to depart. And suddenly I hear Julie and I turned around and it’s Dante that we used to perform the main character on Dralion. And we last saw each other five years ago at the end, at the closing of Dragon. And there he was there smiling. And we picked up where we left the last time. But like New York? Yeah. How many people live in New York? What are the chances that Is Scooter broke down and that’s what actually that’s why he actually took the Metro that night. So it’s meant to be.

And we brought up one of our friends, Kelvin Braxton, who left the show, a show, honestly, I couldn’t even name. And when we brought up his name, you mentioned exactly, he’s a singer. How could you remember all of that?

Yes, I have a good memory. I don’t know, I have a good photo memory. Every little memories I have from tourist Souvenirs are kept very preciously in my head. And, you know, sometimes just a name will spark and a memory and then, oh, yeah, when I was on that show, this came up, or just last summer, I saw you was also a singer, australian. And it was really special to see her again after all this time.

I think maybe part of that also has to do with the fact that this is a really tough job, even though it’s filled with creativity, a lot of people really want it, but at.

The same time, and people are literally risking their lives.

And I remember Ben Smith, you and Shayna watching the ice show Crystal for the first time. We’re all really quite nervous because Circus never done that before and this is the second time for them to do it.

Do you fear, do you worry about.

Your pupils and your little no, I have a lot of trust. There’s a lot of trainings and a lot of rehearsals and a lot of practice that is done before doing anything on the ice. We don’t take anything lightly. We take everything very passionately and every level of detail. So there’s a lot of communications between us, between the technical team, between the artistic team, the artist. So there’s trust. I know we’re all there to give our best performances night after night. And if there’s something that we feel that’s not right, we know it’s going to be tweaked a little bit and change. So it won’t maybe not be performed the same way, but it will still appear. But, yeah, trust, I know everything’s going to be okay. The fear and all of these elements is not something I think about. I really focus on giving the best, on seeing the best performance every night. And I hope everybody always stays safe and knows what they have to do to be like this. But safety is so important in everything we do that I do have a lot of trust in everyone.

Yeah. So it sounds like you have a lot of experience as well, which is absolutely beautiful and so necessary. Thank you so much for that.

But there is an element of risk in the circus, but this risk is taken very seriously and it’s also taken with safety.

Yeah, for sure. And I hear this all the time. I know how atherton’s they went to a show, decided to apply, and then I just heard this gentleman, Jeremy Ten, talk about, hey, I’m a retired professional figure skater, and now I just submitted my tape for audition. So if people were watching and thinking they have a unique skill, what’s the best way for them to reach out and be part of Cirque?

I think it’s always by meeting people. If you have a chance to see a Cirque du Soleil show and then you have a chance maybe to meet some of either the cast or the people that work backstage. It’s always worth to see and ask questions. I’ve applied online. I worked with two big festivals in Montreal, and I always wanted to travel, combine work and traveling out of a coincidence. It was in 2004, I was returning from a trip in Mexico, from Mexico City to Montreal. And sitting beside me was the publicist of one of Cirque du Soleil storing shows. And she was telling me all about this. And in 2010, I saw an opening online and I applied. It didn’t work the first time. I didn’t give up. I kept and really liked my profile. And two weeks after, they called me again to offer me a position on another tour. So I think it’s by working as hard as you can in the unique skills that you have, and it’s knocking on the doors and keep on going until that door is open for you.

Awesome. Thank you so much. Appreciate you.

You’re very welcome. Thank you.

This episode of the Face Feisworld podcast is brought to you by Phase World LLC, our marketing service agency created for independent creators and businesses. We offer website development, video production, marketing, mentorship to people who want to tell better stories, level up, and create a profitable brand. Phase. War podcast.


Our chief editor and producer, Herman Sevillos. Associate producer, Adam Leffert. Social media and content manager roast De Leon Transcript editor, Alina Ahmedova. And lastly, myself, the creator and host of Phase World.

Thank you so much for listening.

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