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Better Winnipeg: Hiring local gives Cirque du Soleil tour extra support

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Better Winnipeg: Hiring local gives Cirque du Soleil tour extra support – Jul 5, 2017

Thousands of people have made their way into the bright yellow and blue tent to catch Cirque du Soleil: Kurios.

The experience has been extra special for the 193 staff hired from Winnipeg for the touring show’s six week stop in the city.

“I was very excited, I actually had never been to a Cirque du Soleil show before,” Morgan Schell said.

She was hired as the food and beverage team lead.

A whole range of roles have been filled by local staff.

“We request 75 people for local food and beverage, 25 for merchandise, 60 ushers, 10 for VIP, 10 for the box office,” Christine Smigiel, sales and customer experience manager said.

Smigiel helped train some the local staff who are hired in each city for front-of-house positions.

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“We like for the staff to feel like family because they are. They’re the front line. They’re the first people that are going to see the customers.”

Other jobs local staff have been hired for in Winnipeg include wardrobe attendants, kitchen prep cooks, dishwashers and chefs.

Nicolas Paquin has been cooking in Winnipeg for five years. He is one of 8 people hired for Cirque’s mobile kitchen.

“Cirque du Soleil, that ‘s kind of a big deal and I jumped on that right away,” Paquin said.

The temporary nature of the job is unique requires staff who are a quick study.

“They have to get to their best in a couple of weeks, because in a few months we’ll leave and hit a new market so it’s tricky,” Paola Muller said.

Muller is a permanent kitchen manager with Cirque. She started with the company in South America and has traveled all over the world cooking for crew and athletes on tour.

She said local hires are an important link in each city.

“They can give us tips on good spots to go buy food.”

Not only that, they also turn to the local staff for advice on what to see and do in the city.

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“We’re here working but we also want to look around and see what Winnipeg has to offer,” Muller said.

Downtown, The Forks and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights are a few of the places Muller said the Cirque staff have visited.

As far as shopping for food, Paquin says they’ve made a few key stops.

“We went to De Luca’s , that was super exciting with all the meats and cheeses there. We went to St. Leon Gardens, they have all the local produce and went to St. Norbert Market.”

The experience for both local and touring employees is special with lasting memories for all involved.

“We’re all one big team. We’re all one big family here and I felt that vibe right when I got in,” Paquin said.

“It’s cool to meet people from all over the world. Every one from the security to acrobats to the kitchen staff are so nice and awesome,” Schell said.

“I hope they’re having the most fun they’ve ever had in their life because that’s what I had,” said Smigiel.

This is Smigiel’s sixth tour with Cirque. She was hired 10 years ago to work in merchandise at a show in the U.S. and was hooked.

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Smigiel says there are seven people from the Winnipeg hires that have already inquired about staying on for the next stop as Kurios heads to set-up in Edmonton.

The final show in Winnipeg is July 9, 2017.

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