The inner workings of the Art Direction of Le Monastère

Le Sanctuaire has been empty and very quiet since October, after the conclusion of the last cabaret of the year. Don’t be mistaken, this apparently tranquility conceals the preparation for our next cabaret on March 8-9, 15-16 and 21-22-23, 2024. The focus is on reflecting on the identity of this new show, on its uniqueness. This is the mission that the Artistic Direction service undertakes before moving on to the selection of creators. Are you curious to know the criteria for an artist to bask in the spotlight on our 360-degree central stage?


Follow us behind the scenes and step into the shoes of Annie-Kim, Artistic Director and Casting Director. Present since the beginnings of Le Monastère, she played a role in organizing the very first cabaret, which took place on a ranch in Guadaloupe, in the native region of co-founder Guillaume Blais. Annie-Kim wants to take this opportunity to express her deep gratitude to him, her artistic co-director for the past 7 years. His insightful advice and unwavering friendship have not only enriched her professional journey but have also forged bonds that extend far beyond the spotlight and backstage.

A few years later, the passion is still there, along with the core values and the desire to do well. Indeed, her primary goal is to showcase local artists based in Quebec while remaining open to visiting artists. Montreal being hub for circus arts, artists have every reason to pass through, whether to live between tours, complete training through workshops or participate in a festival. This cultural mix is more than enriching and allows for exploration of emerging trends in the international circus scene while remaining attuned to various disciplines.

Her intention is to provide the audience with a rich and varied artistic and emotional experience. She aspires to broaden horizons, stimulate collective introspection about our society, share, doubt together, and question ourselves. To feel the vulnerability of the artist and leave with a sens of fulfillment. She aims to present a diverse range of disciplines, styles and approaches, offering the audience the opportunity to discover the diversity and creativity that characterize contemporary circus and highlight its artistic versality.


To establish a high-quality cabaret, a careful selection of independant artists is necessary. With gender equality so that everyone feels represented, a balance between different disciplines, and consideration of the tone of each act, Annie-Kim plays the role of a true orchestra conductor. Drawing on several elements to harmonize the final performance, she pays attention to the overall rythm of the show that will create a rich emotional experience for a captivated audience.

The critera for choosing artists’ acts are the same as those on the selection grid used by the jury of the traditional Cabaret du Jugement Dernier, held every year in July as part of the Montréal Complètement Cirque Festival. This cabaret is know for hosting a recognized and specialized circus jury.  They vote for the “Calice d’or, d’argent and de bronze” within the different acts. They first focus their attention on presence, how the artist manages to occupy and possess the stage. Then comes the artistic proposal, the intention behind the act. Creativity, innovation, and movement exploration should not be forgotten. Aiming for a technical and execution level so natural that a sense of freedom emanates from the artist’s work.

Undoubtedly, technical skill forms the foundation of the circus discipline for any artist, but it is the quest for original transitions between these technical movements that determines each individual’s personality. Upstream, the artist carefully shapes the universe they aim to convey on stage, as well as the emotions they want to communicate to the audience: elements that will set them apart from any other artist. 

Her most valuable advice? Have at least two distinct interpretations of the same work, or two different works. This not only enhances versatility but also increases the chances of making an impact on the audience, depending on the acts already selected for the cabaret. This approach not only reinforces artistic versatility but also increases the chances of making an impact on the audience.


In parallel, we also organize circus open stages at l’annexe 1439, a multidisciplinary venue in the basement of the St-Jax Centre. With the goal of being an inclusive and unifying space aiming to democratize culture, these evenings mainly open the door to new works still in progress in their creative process. We want to allow artists to present their works when they are still in the conceptual phase to nourish them through sharing with the public. Additionally, the audience had the chance to discover in preview  a more human side of composition with rawer proposals, offering a more fragile and vulnerable view of the performance.


After selecting the artists, the art director faces a significant challenge: time. Indeed, only one rehearsal day is allocated to set up the show and orchestrate the sequence of acts. Each artist has only 45 minutes, encompassing coordination of stage management, sound, lights, and possibly acrobatic rigging. This feat is made possible thanks to a strong and rigorous team, involving experienced and well-organized technicians and hosts.

These challenges do no impact her motivation and love for her work. In fact, the diversity of her tasks prevents the establishment of any routine through a mix of administrative work, fieldwork, and creative missions. Her position also leads her to meet inspiring individuals with varied backgrounds and diverse origins.


If you are an artist and wish to take part in one of our upcoming circus cabarets, you can send your application with a complete video of your works to the following email address:

December 1, 2023

Photos credits: Caroline Thibault

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