Interview with Daniel Lamarre, Executive Vice-Chairman at Cirque Du Soleil

Daniel Lamarre is a French Canadian whose talent for leading creative companies became evident during his two decades at Cirque du Soleil. As chief executive officer, he guided the organization through a period of astounding growth and then brought it back to life during the massive upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When Daniel joined in 2001 as president of new ventures, Cirque du Soleil had two thousand employees and seven shows in performance. Five years later, he became chief executive, and the company grew to five thousand employees and forty-four shows around the world (including recent subsidiary acquisitions). At its peak, Cirque had annual sales of $1 billion, profit margins of twenty percent (EBITDA), and fifteen million people attending its shows per year, more than all thirty-nine Broadway shows combined.

Daniel’s strengths include a laser-like focus during times of crisis and an ability to marry the needs of disparate groups and interests, finding positive solutions and outcomes for all—skills he fine-tuned throughout his long career. Before coming to Cirque, he was president and CEO of the TVA Group, Inc., Canada’s largest television network. During his four years there, the Quebec-based company increased its market share by 40percent and created LCN, the first French-language all-news network in North America.

Previously, Daniel was senior partner at National Public Relations, Inc., where, for more than a decade, he helped it grow from twenty employees in Montreal to become the largest public-relations company in Canada. His first major job came in 1981, at the age of twenty-eight, when he founded and directed the Montreal office of the world’s largest PR firm, Burson-Marsteller.

In 2012, Daniel cofounded the C2 Montreal conference, a one-of-a-kind gathering of the world’s creative and business elite. This platform for exploring innovative answers to commercial questions is consistent with his deeply held belief that without creativity, there is no commerce.

Daniel’s outlook is resolutely international, but his roots are firmly in his tiny hometown of Grand-Mère, located in the French part of Canada. This strong sense of place and values is fundamental to how he does business and is also a source of great personal satisfaction. A natural storyteller, Daniel’s best advice is usually delivered as a story from his rich personal experience. Drawing from his successes and failures, his weapons of choice are laughter and humility. His greatest joy is being the father of two grown children and grandfather of five lovely grandchildren. He enjoys a happy home life with his wife, the photographer Emmanuelle Duperre, and her two sons.

Daniel has been honored with doctorates from the Faculty of Law at McGill University; the University of Quebec in Trois-Rivières; and the Faculty of Arts at his alma mater, the University of Ottawa. Concerned about education and health-and-welfare issues, he supports a variety of charities. Daniel has been involved with Cirque du Monde, a worldwide social circus program that targets at-risk youth; the One Drop Foundation that Cirque founder Guy Laliberte created to provide healthy drinking water to underprivileged nations; and the Montreal Heart Institute Foundation, for which he serves as chairman of the board of directors.

Cirque du Soleil Executive Vice-Chairman of the Board Daniel Lamarre Shares What It Takes For Anyone, Regardless of Position or Industry, to Embrace the Value of Creative Leadership in New Book, “Balancing Acts: Unleashing the Power of Creativity in your Life and Work”

Click here to purchase the book.

Interview questions:

Introduction | In the introduction to “Balancing Acts”, you state that we’re on the precipice of a new era – the Age of the Artist. Can you explain this statement in the context of your motivations for writing the book?

November 2000 | One day in November 2000, you received a call from Guy Laliberte, one of the co-founders of Cirque du Soleil to join the company. Can you tell us about your childhood, business career, the call, and the decision to join Cirque Du Soleil? Chapter 1

The Early Days of Cirque Du Soleil |Please share some of the histories of the early days of Cirque du Soleil? The role of one of the co-founder Guy Laliberte? Gilles Ste-Croix and Guy Caron. How important was Le Cirque Reinvente? Chapter 1

New Ventures | You started as president of new ventures. One of the first projects was the Battersea project. Can you tell us about the Battersea project and your first years at Cirque du Soleil? Chapter 2

Productions | During this period, you were involved in Varekai and Zumanity. In Balancing Acts, you said that Varekai was your chance to learn the business and Zumanity was when you started to assert yourself. Tell us about these productions and your involvement? Chapter 2

Guy’s Party |Guy is famous for his “wild” million-dollar parties. George Harrison attended one of the parties. Tell us about the party and how it lead to collaborating with the Beatles. When George died on November 29, did you think the partnership was over? Chapter 3

George Martin | When did you decide that George Martin’s involvement was needed? When the Beatles LOVE finally premiered in June 2006, you said it was an emotional reunion. Tell us about the reunion. Chapter 3

CEO | In the spring of 2006, you became CEO. What were some of the key productions during this period – Zaia How did the company survive the Great Recession? Chapter 4

Michael Jackson |Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour premiered in October 2011; Michael Jackson ONE premiered in Vegas in June 2013. Tell us about the challenges and ultimate success of these two productions. Chapter 5

The Deal | During this period, Goldman Sachs was retained to sell the company. The ultimate winner was the TPG Group for $1.5 Billion US dollars with TPG at 55%, Fosun at 25%, Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec 10%, and Guy with the final 10%. Tell us about the sale and the implications for you and Cirque Du Soleil. In 2017, Cirque du Soleil acquired the Blue Man Group. Describe the importance of this acquisition. Chapter 6

Covid |In January of 2020, Cirque du Soleil has a resident show in China called The Land of Fantasy. On March 19th, a total of 4,679 lost their jobs. Walk us through the first couple of months of 2020. Chapter 7

Bankruptcy Protection and Relaunch |With zero revenue and a burn rate, Cirque du Soleil filed for bankruptcy protection. Walk us through the filing, the ultimate sale to the forty investors and the relaunch of the company. Tell us about the new CEO Stephane Lefebvre.

The Next Act | What is your next act?

Connect with Daniel on LinkedIn

Press releases:

Le sixième opus de la série homme du Cirque du Soleil célébrera les divas québécoises

Cirque du Soleil JOYÀ celebrates its fifth anniversary with a reimagined menu as theatrical as the show itself

Cirque du Soleil JOYÀ spices up the 6th season at Vidanta Riviera Maya

45 degrees becomes cirque du soleil events + experiences

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