Visiting Cirque du Soleil adviser putting safety in the spotlight
Frederic Caron is a man whose job has literally taken him to the top.
He has the enviable job of travelling the world with Cirque du Soleil as the senior adviser for acrobatic and rigging equipment – a role that has brought him to New Zealand this week.
The Montreal native opened the Entertainment Technology New Zealand (ETNZ) two-day conference in Wellington, offering attendees a glimpse into his life ringside.
"I co-ordinate all the touring shows that we have – 10 shows at present – I speak with everyone on a monthly basis and see what challenges they are facing."
For those unsure of what a rigger does, Caron offered a simple explanation. "Rigging is anything that is hung, so anytime you go to a show and there's something that's hung in the air, that's been hung by a rigger.
"It's all about making the show look effortless."
As part of his fleeting visit, Caron also held a more intimate rigging session for 16 Kiwis working in the industry, with a strong focus on health and safety.
"The nature of what we do is high risk, it's high liability and it's very visible when something goes wrong," ETNZ executive Sam Johnston said.
"We thought a lot about getting the right person who would enthuse our membership with topics that are current, and that was Fred."
Alongside the more technical aspects of the session, Caron shared anecdotes from his time with Cirque so far.
He joined the company in 2002 as a "fly-in" rigger, assisting with the transfer of big top tours between cities and, from there, began assisting touring shows with rigging and larger-scale projects in venues such as London's Royal Albert Hall and Fuji Dome in Japan.
Despite numerous professional highlights, it's the people he met along the way, including his partner, that had proved to be the best part of the job.
"I have a sofa in every major city around the world that I can sleep on."
Professionally though, he said working as an acrobatic project manager during the creation of resident show Zed in Tokyo came a close second.
"The experience of taking someone's vision, putting it on paper and then two years later turning it into a trapeze and highwire – that's a highlight definitely."