Biography - Francine Côté and her collaborators

     Francine Côté

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Francine Côté is a clown/teacher/director from Montreal who has more than 30 years experience in the creation and performance of comic, physical and clown characters. She has played on the International scene (Circus, Cabaret, Variety's, Festivals), taught in a diverse range of schools (National Theatre School of Canada, National Circus School of Montreal, École de l'Humour (Just For Laughs) and the University of Montreal), and has worked as a stage trainer for different companies (Cirque Éloize, L'Aubergine, En Piste…etc.) She's also responsible for the artistic direction and training of Dr. Clown, a company of 25 professional artists working as therapeutic clowns in hospitals and homes for the elderly.

Based on her years of experience as a performer and her early training, two years in Paris with Philippe Gaulier and Monica Pagneux, she has elaborated her own method of teaching the art of clown. Her passion has always been and continues to be about the truthfulness of the character and the dynamics between the clown partners.

In 1985 Francine toured with le Cirque du Soleil in the clown troupe “La Ratatouille”. In 1990 she returned to Le Cirque du Soleil in London and Paris, where Francine met her partner in clown and life, James Keylon. This was the beginning of an international career as the duo, "Alfredo et Adrénaline". Pushing in the direction of the modern clown, but inspired by the traditional clown, these two lovable characters in the throes of their own "Battle of the Sexes" have touched tens of thousands of spectators around the world. The duo has played in Circus: Cirkus Knie (Switzerland), Cirque du Soleil (Mystère, Las Vegas; Cirque Réinventé, London, Paris) Cirkus Benneweis (Denmark), Weishnachts Zirkus (Freiburg, Germany). Cabaret/Theatre: Wintergarten (Berlin), Apollo (Düsseldorf), Teatro Zinzanni (Seattle, San Francisco), G.O.P. Variété (Hannover, Essen), Polygon (Zurich), Casino (Locarno, Swtizerland), Freidrichsbau (Stuttgart), Luna Cabaret (Dortmund, Germany). They have also participated in various Festivals and Events: Festival du Cirque de Monte Carlo, Festival de Verona (Prix de Festival), G7 Conference (Halifax), Festival of Clown (Barcelona)…and in 1998 they received the "Golden Noses Award" given to them by the family of Charlie Rivel in Copenhagen, Denmark.

In the year 2000, Francine produced and directed a cabaret show with 15 artists, "Cabaret Nightclub". From 2001 to 2008 she worked as the artistic director of Dr. Clown, developing a therapeutic clown training program for the hospitals and secondary care facilities. She is now, responsible for the basic training of the professional therapeutic clowns.

Since 2002 Francine has been the director of the Francine Côté’s School of Clown and Comedy. She directed the play of the clowns for the schools creation in 2011. She has developed a method of work and teaching of the Art of Clown for the professional milieu based on her extensive experience and training. All the teachers at the school share her vision and method of teaching.

     James Keylon

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James ‘Alfredo’ Keylon is an American clown/writer/director living in Quebec who has over 30 years experience in mime, clown and theatre. From 1978 thru 1980 he studied in Paris, France at the acclaimed L’Ecole de Mime de Marcel Marceau, where he studied with Pavel Rouba, Marceau and Maximillian Decroux. Before leaving Paris he studied with Etienne Decroux and did workshops with Daniel Stein. He also supported himself by playing street theatre.

He then moved to Canada where he met Michel Dallaire and worked with him in the clown troupe La Ratatouille for four years, touring their show at festivals and theatres throughout Canada and Europe.

In 1983 after performing at the Fête Forain in Baie St. Paul, Québec, they were chosen to be the first clown company in Le Cirque du Soleil. In 1984 he co-founded the award winning clown company “BASTA!” with Gina Bastone in Vancouver, B.C. where they worked together for five years developing absurd black comedy theatre. Also, during this period he performed in the award winning Axis Theatre production of “Synthetic Energy” and was personally nominated for 2 awards (Best Actor, Co-choreography). In 1989 he returned to le Cirque du Soleil as the ringmaster and clown, working with Benny LeGrand (Wayne Hronek) as his partner.

The following year James began working with Francine Côté (Adrénaline) in le Cirque’s show “Le Cirque Réinventé” in London, England and they continued their career for 12 years, working around the world in theatres, cabarets, varieties and circuses. (Wintergarten in Berlin, Apollo in Düsseldorf, Polygon in Zurich, Mystère once again for le Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas, Cirkus Knie in Switzerland and Circus Benneweiss in Denmark).

In 1996 they played before the leaders of the world at the G7 Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 1998, Alfredo et Adrénaline were chosen to play in the prestigious Festival International du Cirque de Monte Carlo and later that year were awarded the “Golden Noses Award” presented every four years by the family of Charlie Rivel.

While continuing to perform and be creative with his partner Roch Jutras, in 2005 they produced and directed the Cabaret Côté Est in Montreal. James has begun to write, coach and direct clown numbers. In 2007, he was co-scenarist on le Cirque du Soleil for Kooza and works regularly on Corteo where he and Roch wrote and directed the pre-show comedy. He is a consultant on clowns for the cirque. In 2008 he began teaching workshops in Mime and movement, Creative laboratory (with Francine Côté) and slapstick (with Roch Jutras). He has also directed and co-wrote the show “The Premiere” for Les 3 Garçons, and works with the company “Les Parfaits Inconnu” as well as directing and co-writing the school’s 2011 production, “CLOWN”.

Geneviève St-Denis

Francine Côté's Clown and Comedy School | Geneviève St-Denis

Geneviève St-Denis began her training in mime, with her father, Claude St-Denis (Canada). She followed that with training in dance with the Grand-Ballets Canadiens for 5 years, the Peter George Ballet Jazz for 2 years and the company Eddy Toussaint in Montreal for 2 years before continuing on her formation at the National Circus School (1986-1989).

After her training in Bouffon with the Bouffon DeBullion (Grant Heysler ), Geneviève perfected her training in the Art of Clown working with Francine Côté (Adrénaline) and Mask, working Pierrette Venne (la Grosse Valise) and Guy Freixe (Théâtre de Soleil, France).

She toured Theatre and Busker Festivals for 10 years in the Clown duo “Gino et Chili” (with Daniel Lo Giudice). She also worked in physical theatre with Dynamo Théâtre in the touring production of “Mur-Mur” (United States, Canada, Europe), and as an actress in the TGV theatrical mask production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (Place des Arts de Montreal, CNA in Ottawa and Grand Théâtre de Québec).

Since 1999 she has worked for le Cirque du Soleil project as a coordinator and instructor for le Cirque du Monde (Montreal, Brazil and Cameroun) and the Arts Nomades project in St-Michel School’s. After 5 years of coaching with Francine Côté, Geneviève teaches the Initiation level clown for the school, and is her assistant in the organization of the workshops. She also directs the Physical Theatre Workshop with James Keylon.

     Rock Jutras

Francine Côté's Clown and Comedy School | Rock Jutras

Roch has played onstage, in the circus ring, on television and in films. After winning the "Student of the Year" Award at the National Circus School in 1985, he joined le Cirque du Soleil for the production of "La Magie Continue", and "Cirque Réinventé" in 1987. In 1992 he toured with Cirkus Knie in Switzerland. The season of 1994-95 he became Cirque Éloize's original clown. In 1998 he worked for Cirque du Monde in Chile teaching young street kids circus skills. In 1999-2001 he was the Artistic Coordinator and toured with le Cirque du Soleil's production of "Dralion".

In 2002, Roch returned to Cirque Éloize as an assistant to the Artistic Director. He also, assisted director Daniele Finzi Pasca from Théâtre Sunil, for the production of "Nomade, la nuit le ciel est plus grand" and "Rain, comme une pluie dans tes yeux". He worked as the Artistic Director on the Cirque Éloize production "TYPO" starring Jamie Atkins.

Since 2003 Roch has worked with clown partner James Keylon in the duo "Alfredo et Rocco". In 2004, the duo worked in the Cabaret "Ganymée on Water" in Düsseldorf, Germany. In 2005 also in collaboration with James Keylon, he designed a new cabaret which played in November and December under the name of "Cabaret du côté Est" and was brought back to life the following year. 2006 brought the announcement of his return to the stage with the troupe L'Aubergine from Quebec City in the role of Rocco the technician for the show "Aaatchoum!" Roch recently returned from Japan where he played the role of the Clown in the Soleil production of Kooza. He is also a consultant for le Cirque who trains the clowns before they go off to their shows. Roch a trained acrobat and clown, teaches the Slapstick Workshop with James Keylon.