In this discussion between three major players from three distinct zones of the circus arts and sport world, they explore what the principles of mentoring talent are, how to identify and nurture talent and give examples of how they, through their work, have learned to accommodate and meet the individual artist and athlete where they are while also setting a standard of excellence in order to help them fulfill their potential.
Stacy Clark, CEO of CircusTalk, is a former gymnast and professional circus performer. Clark worked in marketing and communications before leaving it all behind to perform and teach circus around the world on stage, at festivals and on screen.
Clark is co-founder of Creative Athletic Performance, a consulting service specializing in casting, coaching and creation. She also teaches career development and act development to the next generation of circus artists training at San Diego Circus Center.
Until 2020, Clark was the director of casting at Cirque du Soleil, leading a team of international talent scouts and advisors. Her journey at Cirque du Soleil began in 2007 when she joined the casting department as a talent scout, recruiting athletes and circus artists for the company’s shows worldwide. In 2011 she became acrobatic coach on Amaluna, touring North America.
Clark holds a Bachelor of Applied Arts from Ryerson University and a Leadership diploma from Concordia University. She is a certified yoga teacher, nutrition coach, NASM performance enhancement specialist and “CrossFit Level 1” and “CrossFit Kids” trainer.
Of her philosophy, Clark says “I believe in safe, open learning environments, and cultivating a sense of agency in students, athletes and artists. Excellence in human performance begins with being an excellent human.”
Jean-Luc Martin, founder and head coach of San Diego Circus Center, has always been an adventurer; pushing the limits, rock climbing and kayaking as a teenager, traveling all over North America, doing multiple day routes on El Capitan, etc. He worked for Outward Bound, running their Rock Climbing program, one of the youngest to ever do so. He also worked for Search & Rescue Northern Ontario, and Yosemite National Park.
Martin made the transition into circus after falling in love with one of Cirque du Soleil’s earliest shows. He immediately auditioned for the Pickle Family Circus, and was accepted as a performer where he subsequently performed for two tours. Martin says his experience as a climber has helped me understand rigging, balance, and teamwork. With the Pickle Family Circus, he trained on teeterboard, acrobatics, trapeze, and handstands, and after two years of hard, dedicated, focused work, he decided to test his abilities and audition for École Nationale de Cirque. He was accepted and was soon hired by Cirque du Soleil.
Fifteen years later, Martin retired from the circus and turned to Hollywood, becoming a stunt man and a film producer. During this time, he met his wife Mara, had two children, and decided to leave the rat race of 18 hour days of film producing, to go back to his passion, the circus. San Diego Circus Center was officially born in 2012, providing programs to guide future artists into the professional world of circus.
Jean-Paul Richards, Olympic coach, speaker and founder of Tangible Performance, was a Freestyle ski coach for many years and accumulated a wealth of experience affording him a global vision of human performance. He lived and worked in Sweden for five years, where he participated in developing programs of excellence for coaches and athletes. He then led the Swedish National Mogul Ski Team at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.
Upon returning to Canada, Richards coached the Canadian Women’s Freestyle Ski Team. He implemented a coaching approach designed to create wellness and performance environments, enabling the Dufour-Lapointe sisters to win gold and silver medals at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Russia.
Following his Olympic successes, Richards turned to performance management, notably as manager of team services at the Canadian Olympic Committee and participated in the success of all sports in Canada. He also worked at Cirque du Soleil, where he held various management positions and worked as an executive coach and facilitator, developing skills and coaching managers in leadership and change management.
Richards now shares his expertise, experience and passion by teaching motivational skills and the principles of committed leadership.
TANGIBLE performance offers real impact on well-being and performance while promoting human and organizational development.
Nicky Dewhurst, creator and performer, came from a performance background and has been involved in entertainment his whole life. At 12 years old, he performed a juggling act on television in the UK and went on to become an internationally renowned tight rope artist and clown, performing all over the world.
In 1994 Dewhurst founded Livewire Productions and Dewhurst Creations and has since then staged and directed countless special events, with clients including American Express, Crysler, Canon, Avon, Abbott Labs, IBM, Victoria Secrets to name a few. Dewhurst was also part of the creation for Madonna’s Drowned World Tour aerial fight sequences and advised and performed on the stunt team for Sasha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator. Dewhurst has been creating and performing for over 30 years and has been part of five different Cirque Du Soleil productions including Cirque Réinventé, Nouvelle Experience, Fascination, Mystere and has created the role of “Dick” the clown in Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity for which he is credited for the creation and direction of three comedy acts. Dewhurst directed the show “Cosmopolitan” for Celebrity Cruises and co-directed with Laetitia Dewhurst, Cirque Du Soleil’s One Night for One Drop 2017 at the Zumanity Theater Las Vegas and One Night for One Drop 2018 at the Michael Jackson Theater with Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Jewel. More recently Dewhurst and Laetitia collaborated as creative writers and theatrical advisers on the new “Mayfair Supper Club” at the Bellagio Las Vegas.