JEAN-JACQUES PILLET, Founder
NICOLETTE NAUM, Creative Executive
As stage director, choreographer, artistic director, and dancer, Jean-Jacques Pillet has sought to express himself through movement since early childhood. Born in Bordeaux, France, he started nurturing his love for dance at the age of 15, and at 20, he relocated to Montréal. He had the opportunity to share his talent with various dance companies in France and Canada, touring the United States, Canada and Europe. His career as a performer culminated in 1992, when Jean-Jacques was named “Best Dancer” at the Suzanne Dellal International Dance Competition in Tel Aviv. This accolade gave wings to his burgeoning career as a creator.
In the early 2000’s, he started a long collaboration with the Cirque du Soleil. After being taken on as artistic director for the show Varekai, Jean-Jacques was chosen to co-choreograph Zed, for the Disney Tokyo Resort, as well as Zarkana, for the Radio City Music Hall in New York – now in residence in Las Vegas -, both staged by director François Girard. As a stage director, he also brought Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai to American television, for NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, as well as staging it for the famous Royal Albert Hall in London
In June 2010, Cirque du Soleil invited him to stage, choreograph and direct the production Le Sillon des Rêves for the city of Quebec. On a regular basis he has also been invited by this prestigious company as a stage director and a choreographer for special events, such as: Les Chemins Invisibles (Quebec City, 2009), Eurovision (Moscow, 2009), Quebec City’s 400th Anniversary, Fiat’s 2007 launch in Rome, Barcelona inspired by the Antonio Gaudi’s work, and the Outgames’ opening ceremony in Montreal, with one of most renowned francophone singers, Diane Dufresne. Ms. Dufresne also asked Jean-Jacques to choreograph her Bal des Vampires, soon after which, Quebec stage director Serge Denoncourt invited him to co-create Tablo for the Italian illusionist Gaetano Triggiano.
Jean-Jacques Pillet has lent his passion to the film industry as well, collaborating as a choreographer on projects such as Un capitalisme sentimental with director Olivier Asselin, Macadam Tango with director Lyne Charlebois, and Laura Cadieux, la suite with director Denise Filiatrault, starring Ginette Reno.
Fall 2011 found him working closely with director Jonathan Levine on the Hollywood feature film Warm Bodies, produced by Summit Productions, and starring Nicolas Hoult, John Malkovich, Rob Corddry, and Teresa Palmer.
During his career, Jean-Jacques has worked on creations and taught for: Paris Opéra Ballet, La Scala in Milan, Stuttgart Ballet, Munich Opéra Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, The Munich Opéra Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, La la la Human Steps, among others.
Since 2012, Jean-Jacques has also been channeling his passion for writing; building on his yet-unpublished volume of poetry, he is in the process of completing an original musical as well as two screenplays. His upcoming short film will also mark his debut as film director.
In 2014, Jean-Jacques decided to create a vehicle to produce his own work, as well as that of other writers with whom he shares his vision. HARSHSTREAM Productions was born.
Pursuing her passion for languages, Nicolette Naum graduated from the University of Québec in psycholinguistics and sociology, after witch she immediately went on to work for the Ministry of Education.
During a journey across Canada with her family she found herself in a mostly surprising turning point in her professional life.
From studying commedia dell’arte at the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theater in California, to receiving funding from the Québec government to fufill her passions, Nicolette creates and co-directs a new show concept: “Cirque en Bicycle” ; she then went on to founded her first production company, creating theatrical juggling productions, presenting them in major venues across Canada, USA and Australia.
However, the artist’s growing ambitions compelled her to create “Cré-Axion-2?, dedicated to physical theatre a major and meaninful turn in the career for this languistic passionated woman.
Nicolette was then presented with a golden opportunity to join the young Cirque du Soleil as a talent scout. Soon after, she was promoted to Director of Casting. Her sharp sense, flair and intuition would leave an indelible mark on the company – thus bringing the creative teams’ visions to life. Her work was key to productions such as Alegria, Quidam and Mystère.
Daringly, Nicolette also convinced Ms. Lyn Heward, then president of the Quebec Federation of Gymnastics, to join the team who went on to lead the Creation department at Cirque du Soleil, overseeing groundbreaking productions such as KÀ, O, Zumanity, Corteo, and Varekaï.
From 1998, Nicolette took on the role of Artistic Director of various Cirque du Soleil shows, amongst which Varekaï, supporting Dominic Champagne in his endeavour of delivering Cirque’s first great success following Franco Dragone’s departure. In 2001, she became Principal Artistic Director, and as such, was responsible for the artistic integrity and management of three touring productions.
Today, Nicolette has chosen to undertake new challenges, collaborating with Jean-Jacques Pillet, for whom she has a profound appreciation, for both his on-stage work and his creative writing.