It is with great sadness that we learned today of the passing of Jan Rok Achard. A true pioneer of circus arts and a great visionary, he devoted his life to artistic creation, production, dissemination and training.
In 1986, when Jan Rok Achard was Program Development Director at Collège Lionel-Groulx, the NCS asked him to validate its first professional training program before appointing him Executive Director from 1987 to 1999. This effort to develop a comprehensive graduate program dedicated to circus arts was the first step in a long process aimed at recognizing the NCS as a private educational institution.
It is under his leadership that the NCS has developed its pan-Canadian presence as well as an international outlook. “To become the best circus school in the world!” was his dream. Jan Rok Achard largely contributed to the establishment of the Circus and High School Studies program in 1990 and to the recognition of higher education through the granting of the Diploma of Collegial Studies (DCS) in 1995. Education, self-esteem, valuing the individual, his/her integrity and his/her development; here is the benevolence with which he defined the values on which the NCS is based. A few seasons before leaving his position, he had initiated the reflection, assessed the needs and laid the foundations for the construction of a unique building entirely dedicated to circus arts training, which became our current location and, still today, a reference for all circus schools.
Co-founder of TOHU, the Cité des arts du cirque, the national group En Piste, the World Federation of Circus Schools and President of the European Federation of Professional Circus Schools, his expertise and influence extend beyond our borders. Passionate about the performing arts, he has also acted as a consultant for many artistic and governmental institutions, including The 7 Fingers at their very beginning.
In June 2022, when he received the insignia of Compagnon des arts et des lettres du Québec, Jan Rok Achard reminded us of the importance of uniting to become a mobilizing force. The consultation and reflection work of this visionary, considered the thinker and architect of the development of circus arts, has certainly contributed to the recognition of contemporary circus.
A tribute to Jan Rok Achard will be held at The 7 Fingers’ studio on Sunday, December 11. Relatives, friends, and colleagues are invited to attend at 1:30 p.m. The ceremony and speeches will begin at 3:30 p.m. Come meet us at 2111 St. Laurent Blvd. Saint-Laurent (corner of Sherbrooke) in Montreal.
For 40 years, the National Circus School (NCS) has been training and developing new circus talent from Quebec and around the world. Renowned worldwide, the NCS is also dedicated to research and innovation in the field of circus arts, in addition to overseeing the conservation and enhancement of the heritage, history and memory of this living art.
The National Circus School welcomes more than 150 students each year, representing approximately 25 nationalities. Over the past four decades, the NCS has trained more than eight hundred circus artists and circus arts teachers. A pioneer of the circus revival in Canada and North America, it is proud to have contributed to the birth of renowned companies, including Cirque du Soleil, Cirque Éloize, The 7 Fingers and Cirque Alphonse.
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