|Born||1952 (age 63–64)
|Occupation||Founder, artistic director|
Dragone was born in Cairano, Italy, and moved to La Louvière, Belgium at age seven. In the 1970s, he studied theatre at the Belgian Royal Conservatory of Mons. His earliest theatrical work was explicitly political, working as a director of theatre and film in the mode of the commedia dell'arte dramatist Dario Fo. The theatre works he helped create expressed social situations, interpreting true stories of the homeless, drug addicts, and prison inmates, and casting the non-actors who shared their stories to perform in the shows. In the 1980s, Dragone came to Montreal, Canada, where Guy Caron, director of the National Circus School, invited him to conduct workshops with the students and teachers at his school. Later, Dragone created, directed and produced a show for the end of the school year. Guy Laliberté saw one of these performances in 1984, the same year he formed Cirque du Soleil. In 1985, Laliberté sought out Guy Caron to join Cirque du Soleil. Caron, in turn, asked Dragone to join as a creator.
Cirque du Soleil
From the years 1985 to 1998, Dragone would direct nearly all of Cirque du Soleil's most prestigious shows and played a significant role in developing Cirque du Soleil's distinctive merging of theater and circus performance. In the early 1990s, Dragone's reputation grew with the production of Nouvelle Expérience and Saltimbanco, nontraditional circus productions in which postmodern dance, music, and circus acrobatics were interlaced with a dreamlike narrative.
His visibility greatly increased after he directed and introduced the cutting-edge Cirque du Soleil production Mystère at the Treasure Island hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mystère helped to change the nature of production shows in Las Vegas. While Dragone would direct only one other show with the company in Las Vegas, O in 1998, to many he was the face of Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas. The shows Dragone created with Cirque du Soleil had single-handedly brought the contemporary circus movement into the mainstream of American entertainment. Around the world, more than 40 million people have now seen Dragone’s creations.
Franco also directed Cirque du Soleil's first motion picture, Alegría - An Enchanting Fable.
In 1999, Dragone directed the music video for Lara Fabian's song "Adagio".
In the following year, he formed his own company called Dragone, based in his hometown of La Louvière in Belgium. During 2003, Dragone created a new live show, A New Day... starring Céline Dion, which opened at Caesars Palace, thus continuing his association with Las Vegas.
Franco Dragone was in charge of the opening ceremony show for the 2010 South American Games that took place in Medellín, Colombia on March 19, 2010. The main themes of the show were inspired by Medellin's culture, business and geography.
In 2010, Dragone also directed a Macau-based show entitled The House of Dancing Water, which bills itself as the world’s largest permanent water-based show. It includes over 70 artists from around the globe, including many who come from his previous creations with Cirque du Soleil. The artists in the show are well-rounded in dance, swimming and acrobatics, as the 'House Troupe' performs many different acts. The House of Dancing Water is set in the 2000-seat Dancing Water Theater designed by Pei Partnership Architects; the theater is part of the City of Dreams integrated entertainment resort in Macau. The 270-degree theater-in-the-round has a central stage with a diameter of approximately 25 meters (82 feet), surrounded by sloped seating on three sides. The theater arena boasts a 40-meter-high steel trussed space (30 meters clear) providing generous height to the show’s display of acrobatics. The show, which incorporates various design elements such as fire, water effects, and atmospheric effects, premiered on 17 September 2010.
On March 29, 2012, Dragone was awarded a doctor honoris causa degree for general merits by the University of Antwerp, in recognition of his innovative and cosmopolitan approach to theatre.
In early 2013, Dragone created and directed Story of a Fort, Legacy of a Nation, a show that ran from February 28 through March 9, 2013 as the centrepiece event of the Qasr a- Hosn festival in Abu Dhabi. The show celebrated Emirati history with state-of-the-art technology, acrobatics, and traditional Emirati dance and music.
In 2014, Dragone opened The Han Show in Wuhan, China, celebrating the essence of the Han culture. The Han Show Theater, designed by Mark Fisher and inspired by the “Red Lantern”, is 60 meters high, 100 meters in diameter and houses more than 2000 seats.
Cirque du Soleil
- 1985: Cirque du Soleil
- 1987: Le Cirque Réinventé
- 1989: La Magie Continue
- 1990: Nouvelle Expérience
- 1992: Saltimbanco
- 1993: Mystère
- 1994: Alegría
- 1996: Quidam
- 1998: O
- 1998: La Nouba
- 1999: Alegría (1999 film) (co-writer, director and producer)
- Chapeau Europa: Ceremony for the European Union Belgian Presidency in Brussels
- Le Potager des visionnaires, Quebec, for the 400th birthday of Quebec City
- Story of a Fort, Legacy of a Nation, Abu Dhabi
- 1985: La vente aux enchères, Cirque du Trottoir
- 1986: Eldorado, Compagnie des Mutants
- 1987: Les Communs des Mortels, a Compagnie du Campus and Collectif 1984 coproduction
- 1987: Flic, Flac, Compagnie des Funambules (Belgique)
- 1987: La tête dans le si bémol, with Michel Dallaire and Pierre Lafontaine
- 1992: La ballade de l'homme gris, Compagnie du Campus
- 1993: Pomp, Duck, Circumstance, Düsseldorf
- 1996: Poussière du temps, Compagnie du Campus
- (French) Yves Vasseur, Franco Dragone: une part de rêve, Éd. Luc Pire, 2006
- (French) Yves Vasseur, Franco Dragone, une improbable odyssée, Éd. Labor, 2002
- (French) Franco Dragone, Claude Renard, Le Tailleur du Rêve, Éd. Les Impressions Nouvelles, 2006
- (French) Jacob Berger, Le Rêve, 2005: série documentaire pour Arte autour du travail de Franco Dragone sur le spectacle Le Rêve
- (French) Manu Bonmariage, Looking For Dragone, 2009
- Profile of Franco Dragone, "Franco Dragone at the Limits of Las Vegas", by Chris Jones, from Democratic Vistas Profiles: Essays in the Arts and Democracy.
- "Le Rêve Press Kit." Wynn Las Vegas. Press release. pp. 10-11. Retrieved Dec 6, 2009.
- "The Show". The House of Dancing Water.
- Berger, Hugo. "Dazzling Story of a Fort enthrals the UAE". The National. March 3, 2013. Retrieved on 2015-10-02.
- "The Han Show Official Website".
- On a testé : la revue «Paris Merveilles» du Lido. Les Échos. March 3, 2015. Retrieved on 2015-10-02.
- "Dalian Wanda Group The "Han Show" Theatre Opening 2014". Stufish Architecture. March 12, 2012. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
- "The new revue at the Lido by Franco Dragone". Paris-Is-Beautiful City Guide. Retrieved on 2015-10-02.
- Patrick Frater. "Wanda Opens $2.5 Billion Theme Park in Yunnan". Variety.