When first formed in 2002, each of the founding members had nearly 20 years of performance experience under their belts. Drawing from their decades on the road and in the ring, these friends and colleagues now shared a desire to break the mold, to offer a brand new form of circus performance. They envisioned a sort of “circus at human scale” — shows seeped in intimacy and familiarity, that brought the empowerment of the extraordinary through the proximity of the ordinary, with very real human beings who breathed and danced and spoke from the heart. From this, the urge to redefine the circus medium has continued to drive each of their creations to newer, more hybrid and collaborative territories. Perpetually blurring the lines between contemporary dance and acrobatics, between theatre and athleticism, between interactive multi-media and immersive experience, they strive towards the undefinable, uncategorizable, visceral, breathtaking and touchingly human.
Les 7 doigts de la main translates literally as "the 7 fingers of the hand". It is a twist on a French idiom ("the five fingers of the hand") used to describe distinct parts united tightly, moving in coordination towards one common goal. Here it refers to the 7 founding directors of the company (Isabelle Chassé, Shana Carroll, Patrick Léonard, Faon Shane, Gypsy Snider, Sébastien Soldevila et Samuel Tétreault) who, by combining their distinct talents and experiences, work towards their common artistic goals with the beautifully awkward dexterity of a 7-fingered hand.
Shana Carroll is co-founding artistic director of Montreal’s Les 7 doigts de la main, where she has co-directed and choreographed the company’s major touring shows, whether together with the collective (Loft, La Vie) with partner Gypsy Snider (Traces), with partner and husband Sebastien Soldevila (Séquence 8, Le Murmure du Coquelicot, Cuisine & Confessions), or alone (Psy, Cabaret 2010, FeriAmuse). In 2013, Shana directed the circus show of Queen Of the Night at the DiamondHorseshoe in New York.
In addition to her work within 7 Fingers, Shana’s circus directing and choreography credits include the acrobatics choreography in Cirque du Soleil’s Paramour, their performance at the 84th Annual Academy Awards (2012) and the acrobatic design and choreography of Iris at the Dolby (formerly Kodak) Theatre. She created 4 gold-medal winning acts at the Festival de Cirque de Demain, Il Fait Dimanche for l’Ecole Nationale de Cirque de Montreal, and Quebec’s 400th anniversary performance with 40 trapeze artists (2008). She also received a Drama Desk Award nomination for best choreography for Traces (2008), and a Bay Area Theatre Critics’ Circle nomination for best choreography for Circumstance (2003).
A former trapeze artist, Shana performed for 20 years in the air, within 7 Fingers shows Loft and La Vie (2002-2008), and with a wide variety of circus and dance companies around the world, most notably 7 years as original solo trapeze artist for Cirque du Soleil’s Saltimbanco (1994-2001).
Originally from Berkeley California, Shana first started circus at the age of 18 with San Francisco’s Pickle Family Circus (1988-1991), and then furthered her trapeze training at Montreal’s Ecole nationale de cirque (1991-1993) and France’s Ecole nationale de cirque de Rosny-sous-Bois (1993-1994). She currently lives in Montreal with her husband and daughter, in a renovated convent with other fellow-Fingers.
At five, Isabelle drew a picture of a trapeze artist and stated this was what she wanted to be. At eleven, she found an ad in the local newspaper for a circus school and asked her mother if she could go.
The determined Quebec-countryside girl was quickly placed into an intensive contortion program at the National Circus School of Montreal. After two years, Isabelle joined Cirque du Soleil as part of a contortion act with three other girls. The quartet received gold medals at the Festival de Monte Carlo and the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Domain de Paris, and many other awards; and appeared The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Good Morning America, and many more.
In 1997, Isabelle explored solo work and a new apparatus, developing a contortion act on aerial silks for Cirque du Soleil’s Quidam.
Curious about many art forms, Isabelle participated in films Satie and Suzanne (Gold Medal, New York Film Festival; Grammy Nomination) and Martyrs (as ‘’The Creature!’’).
Upon co-founding Les 7 doigts de la main, she has worked as a performer and co-creator on Loft and La Vie; assistant director on Psy and Amuse; and an artistic leader on The Fibonacci Project.
Despite four consecutive titles as Canadian Artistic Roller Skating Champion, Patrick rejected a life of glory to pursue a bachelor’s in chemistry. However, he could not suppress his ever-lingering passion for performing, and he soon abandoned his mad scientific career for the equally mad world of circus.
After training at Montreal’s National Circus School, Patrick performed as a comic character and diabolo artist at the Montreal Casino; in German cabarets Wintergarten Variete, Freidrichbau Variete, and Pomp Duck and Circumstance; in Teatro Zinzanni; and in the traditional Cirque Knie.
Upon co-founding Les 7 doigts de la main in his native Quebec, Patrick has received special recognition for his comic performances (Newcomer Award, Montreal Mayor’s Foundation; Prix Nikouline, Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain de Paris). He co-created and performed in Loft and La Vie and collaborates in the Fibonacci Project. His love for creative projects leads him as a conceptor and performer for many events and projects, including the co-creation of the parapeze, a trapeze on a hang-glider. In 2011, he premiered his solo show: Patinoire.
Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of Les 7 doigts de la main, Gypsy co-directed Loft (2002) with the other founding members of the collective; Traces (2006) with Shana Carroll; Amuse (2012 and 2013) with Isabelle Chassé; and Intersection (2014) with Samuel Tétreault.
She has directed performances for numerous high profile events, including the appearance of Traces on America’s Got Talent — watched for over eight million viewers; an outdoor show for the city of Buenos Aires for over ten thousand live spectators; a circus act for the Queen of England’s Royal Variety Performance (2009); and a fashion show for Bench in the Philippines (2014).
Gypsy has led and participated in many collaborations between Les 7 doigts de la main and diverse partners: choreography for Darcy Oake’s Edge Of Reality show (2014-2015); choreography and movement direction of the new
Peter Pan 360 (USA); circus creation of the Broadway musical Pippin, for which she received a Drama Desk Award and an Outer Critics Circle Award (2013); the creation of the show Crime for the National Circus School of Montreal (2009), and the co-direction of Typo (2004) for Cirque Eloize.
In 2014, Gypsy received the “Evolving Circus Award” during the first edition of the American Circus Awards.
Born into the circus ring, as the daughter of the founders of San Francisco’s Pickle Family Circus, Gypsy began her artistic career at age four. She performed with the Pickles until age 18, when she left for Switzerland to study at the Scuola Teatro Dimitri. She performed three seasons with La Compania Dimitri (1993-96), as well as with the German cabaret Pomp Duck and Circumstances (1996-97), on tour with the Cirque du Soleil in Saltimbanco (1997-2000), and with Cirque Knie (2002). After twelve years on the road, Gypsy returned to her hometown and performed in the cabaret Teatro Zinzanni, meanwhile guest teaching at San Francisco Circus Center Clown Conservatory (1993-2002), directing Walk, Don’t Walk (2002) and Recess for the San Francisco Youth Circus and directing Circumstance (2002) for the New Pickle Circus.
SÉBASTIEN SOLDEVILA (Co-Director) is the co-founding artistic director of Les 7 doigts de la main (7 Fingers), where he co-created and performed in Loft and La Vie, co-directed Séquence 8 and Cuisine & Confessions as well as writing and co-directing the original circus-play Le Murmure du Coquelicot. Sebastien is twice award-winning at the Festival Mondial de Cirque de Demain: in 2007 he received a gold medal for his famous hand to hand act with partner Mimi Bonnavaud, and the Prix Nikouline with diabolo partner Patrick Leonard in 2003. With both of these numbers Mr. Soldevila has appeared on renowned televised variety and talk shows across the globe.
After directing performances for the 2010 Vancouver Games (Québec Pavilion) and performing in the Closing Ceremony of 2006 Torino Olympics, Mr. Soldevila staged the first (Medieval) tableau of the 2014 Olympic Opening Ceremonies in Sochi, directing over 600 dancers, gymnasts, acrobats and children.
In addition to directing and choreographing Sebastien is the 7 Fingers resident acrobatic designer, coaching nearly all the productions, in addition to coaching at the National Circus School of Montreal.
Voracious athlete growing up; he tumbled with the French Junior National Team, and held the title of French National Champion in Sports Acrobatics Mixed Pairs for four years in a row. After working as a choreographer for the Dutch National Team, Mr. Soldevila was recruited to perform in Cirque du Soleil’s Saltimbanco, where he performed from 1998-2001.
Born in Montreal, Samuel Tétreault began his artistic development at age 14 at the Montreal National Circus School of Canada where he studied for seven years. There he developed a passion not only for the acrobatics but also for dance and theatre. Upon graduating in 1996 he started his career as a hand-balancer winning several awards in circus festivals, including a Bronze Lion at the Wuquio Acrobatic Festival in China and a Silver Medal at the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain in Paris. In 2002, after performing over 1500 shows of Cirque du Soleil’s production Alegria, touring with Cirque Éloize’s production Orchestra and appearing in some of the most prestigious cabarets in Germany, Samuel became one of the co-founding artistic directors of Les 7 doigts de la main, the Montreal based circus collective also known as the “7 Fingers”. Since the foundation of the company Samuel has collaborated as artistic co-director to the creation of most 7 Fingers shows as well as appearing on stage in the productions of Loft, La Vie, the Fibonacci Project and Le Murmure du Coquelicot.
In 2014, Samuel co-directed Intersection, the opening show of the 5th edition of Montreal’s Complètement Cirque Festival (Canada) and directed Luces Fugaces, a special creation for the Festival de las Luces in Medellin (Colombia).
As current President of En Piste, the National Circus Arts Network of Canada, Samuel is also highly invested in the promotion and development of the contemporary circus arts.
Co-founder of the 7 Fingers, Faon was born and raised in the circus world.
She took her first steps on stage at age seven with the Cirque du Soleil and remained there for 15 years, playing in five different shows.
Throughout her career, she excelled in a variety of disciplines (rope, Korean plank, hand to hand, trampoline, artistic bicycle, and others). Her increasing creativity led her to obtain a grant to develop a new aerial apparatus, the aerial chains, later integrated into the shows LOFT and LA VIE.
Faon has long had a passion for osteopathy, and in 2009 she decided to follow that voice and began studying osteopathy with great success.
Unable to reasonably juggle her role as mother, artistic director, and student, Faon decided to leave the 7 Fingers, but still joins her former collective when she gets the chance.
In 2010, Faon moved to Berlin to join the father of her daughter. There, she found herself again immersed in the circus and cabaret, and decided that osteopathy must wait a little… Faon then developed a new passion: the Chinese pole. She is currently forming a new company with colleagues Maximillian Rambeack and Alessandro Di Sazio in Berlin.
Political scientist, author (L’Occident Imaginaire,PUQ Editions), advisor and volunteer for dozens of national and international organizations, Nassib fell under the charm of a modern day tribe: Les 7 doigts de la main. He ran away with the circus, as the saying goes, and took on the general direction of this jewel of the Montreal stage. Nassib is currently President of the International Exchange for the Performing Arts (CINARS), and member of the board of the Conseil des arts de Montréal (CAM).