Typical to artists of his generation, native Parisian Guilhem Cauchois wears multiple hats and plays to his talents in an admirably simultaneous manner. As an accomplished acrobat and featured Cirque du Soleil performer; an entrepreneur who co-founded Cut 2 The Core Fitness with his wife, Elizabeth Cauchois; and a father to their six-month-old son, Guilhem has recently launched a podcastcalled Tapis Rouge! that brings the story of many creatives and creators to the audience, amongst which of course are many of his inspiring circus friends and colleagues. Our team sat down with Guilhem to chat with him about his career and his inspiration for the podcast.
CircusTalk: Guilhem, we are eager to hear your circus story. How did it all start?
Guilhem Cauchois:I don’t come from a circus family, although my parents were very driven by the arts. My father was an executive at the film production company Gaumont, where he worked on all the international films of Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, Leon: The Professional, etc.) up to the creation of EuropaCorp. I grew up hearing him speak about things on set, how the directors handled their actors, the issues and solutions in production, ticket sales, and all that. As well, the great French poet Francis James was my mum’s great-uncle, so I also grew up hearing a lot about poetry and literature! I think that’s why film and literature have always been my first sources of inspiration in my creative processes.
I had a stutter growing up, and my parents wanted to push activities that would allow me to express myself more and overcome it. I started theater when I was four and circus when I was six.
At first, circus was once or twice a week. Then when I was about ten, I started to follow professional artists during their gigs. In the beginning, I was just loading trucks for them and bringing them water bottles, but soon they started to teach me things like how to do my own makeup and exist on stage.That was when circus became an important part of my life.
From ages 13 to 18, I was part of a youth circus troupe. We had different shows, performed on weekends, and toured France during the summer. In these years, I really got to practice and experiment with all the basics of performing onstage as an artist.
When the time came for me to choose my path forward after high school, my dad wanted me to give up circus and go to acting school. He wanted to use his connections to get me started in the film industry. I told him that I could always act later in life, when my body is broken, but that, for now, I wanted to push my physical abilities in performing. This idea of transcending the body has really influenced me throughout my work as an acrobat.
CT: So did you proceed with circus right after high school?
GC: No, I worked as a fashion model from age 16 to 20. It taught me about different aspects of performing that I’d never heard of in my circus classes, like the impact of lighting, the geometry of the body, visual composition, etc… I was also very interested in getting closer to the creative designers behind the clothes! Working in Paris, I was very lucky to be exposed to the brilliant minds of the fashion industry.
After that, I took a year to prepare for the auditions of the École nationale de cirque (ENC) in Montreal. I trained five days a week with Loic Marques, an elite gymnastic coach, and went to ballet school four days a week. To this day, I still believe that every aspiring circus artist should include ballet in their training.
I got into ENC the next year, where I studied for three years with my duo trapeze partner, Sarah Tessier. Cirque du Soleil offered us a contract for TOTEM at the end of our second year, which allowed us to sign a year before even finishing school!
From there, the rest is history. We spent over eight years with Cirque, performing our trapeze act on and off while also working many seasons with the German cabaret PALAZZO.
CT: You mention in the podcast intro that after touring for a decade with Cirque du Soleil, you met a lot of incredible people from all over the world and thought you would be crazynot to share some of their inspiring stories. How did the podcast idea come about? Why do you find it important to share these stories?
GC: I am very lucky to have met and worked with incredible Cirque du Soleil legends with really inspiring stories to tell. I wanted to find a way to share these stories so they wouldn’t fall into oblivion!
So I talked to my collaborators and friends at Cirque du Soleil, and they were very enthusiastic about the idea. We went back and forth for about a year to develop the concept, and the show launched in September 2022.
I feel that “oral tradition” is inherent to circus: we learn from people, not from books. Even though there are books out there about the acrobatic arts, these have more of an archival value, in my opinion. Circus really remains an oral tradition, which is why I felt that podcasting was an appropriate medium.
CT: Who are your collaborators and team?
GC: Projectslike Tapis Rouge! are never the product of one person, and I am very lucky to have had the people on our team and their talents to bring the show to life.
Elizabeth Cauchois, my lovely wife, is taking care of social media and show-writing.
Her co-writer is Pippo Crotti, the original Italian clown on TOTEM. Since 2014, he has been a TV producer and film actor, and now he’s helping us with guests and scheduling. He really is the other creative force behind the curtain!
Then we have our “sound tech” consultant, Nic Hammonds, who has been a technical director in the entertainment industry for years, and presently works at La Perle in Dubai.
Finally, there is Fred Sevestre, our marketing and strategy consultant.
We record all our episodes at a local music studio!
Again, Tapis Rouge! is really the result of the work and involvement of every member of the team. I reiterate this because I would like to see more directors and producers giving their collaborators due credit.
CT: What is your primary purpose with this podcast?
GC: My primary purpose with this podcast is to showcase the beauty of our guests and their stories.
CT: Among your guests so far, Cirque du Soleil artists dominate. Will you continue focusing on the Cirque talent pool, or do you intend to broaden the spectrum to creators from other segments of the entertainment industry. If yes, what kind of creators?
CG: The first season focuses on Cirque du Soleil stories, talents, and celebrities who are close to the company. Although we do have some creators who aren’t directly connected to Cirque but who came to watch TOTEM.
For season 2, we have a few different options on the table and are talking about potential collaborators. It’s too early to confirm anything at the moment, but there are some great prospects!
CT: How do you select and find your guests?
GC: Our guests are mostly friends, collaborators, or people whom I have met while working for Cirque du Soleil. The starting point of every episode is our connection through Cirque, but not every guest’s story is something Cirque-related. It is a bit like us sitting down together, saying, “What brings us to the table is that we both are connected to Cirque, but this is not necessarily what we are here to talk about!”
Plus, Pippo is actively working in the TV and movie industry, which facilitates the connections and scheduling with some of our high-profile guests.
CT: So far, you have already had 13 successful episodes. Is there an overarching topic or angle that all guests are touching on somehow, or is each conversation completely different?
GC: Successful episodes may have been successful for different reasons, but I think that the common thread between them is their inspirational and creative value. Listening to David Shiner talk about directing and clowning is very valuable, but listening to Amanda Zidow speaking about how she survived cancer performing on Amaluna is also inspiring. So is listening to how Andreii Bondarenko escaped Ukraine during the war—extraordinary!
We really try to bring in guests who have a special story to tell—something that they have accomplished or overcome. But it is always under the umbrella of creativity and inspiration.
CT: Who is your audience? For whom do you intend and dedicate these conversations?
GC: Our audience is very broad, geographically speaking! We have a lot of listeners in Canada and the United States, of course, but we also have followings in Australia, Brazil, France, and even India. We are really happy that we can connect with so many people from so many places in the world!
We’ve gotten great feedback from people in the entertainment industry who can relate to our guests’ stories. But we also hear a lot from people who are outside of the entertainment industry and enjoy the “behind-the-scenes” experience that the podcast offers.
CT: Guilhem, you are still an active performer. Can you tell us about your future performing plans?
GC: I am about to start a new and very exciting project! I can’t say much about it yet, but it’s going to be publicly announced very soon! But I can say that it is going to be a touring production and that you’ll find me up on my trapeze again (among other things!).
CT: Lastly, what do you do when you are not performing and podcasting, if there are hours still left for you in the day?
GC: Elizabeth and I also run a sport strength and rehabilitation company called Cut 2 The Core Fitness. We specialize in rehabilitation of the lumbo-pelvic hip complex, and help people and athletes recovering from back or hip pain, injuries, and the postpartum period.
I practice meditation daily, and I love surfing, which is great with the touring lifestyle—I have been lucky to surf in many incredible places around the world.
All images are courtesy of Guilhem Cauchois. Main image: Guilhem Cauchois and his wife Elizabeth Cauchois.
Tapis Rouge! with Guilhem Cauchois is available on most podcast channels and right here on CircusTalk with a new episode weekly! You can also follow the creative team on Instagram @tapisrougepodcast...
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