FOL!E is Cirque du Soleil’s first open-ended research partnership with a university
Ryerson University’s Faculty Of Communication & Design is partnering with Nextasy, Cirque du Soleil’s innovation lab, to create a research lab called FOL!E.
The new lab is designed to explore the future of live entertainment, according to Louis-Etienne Dubois, a faculty member in the School of Creative Industries and newly appointed director of FOL!E.
Dubois is working with five schools within FCAD to create the first formal, open-ended research partnership between a university and Cirque du Soleil.
Currently, FOL!E includes FCAD faculty members from the School of Interior Design, the School of Performance, the School of Journalism, RTA School of Media and School of Creative Industries. According to Dubois, these schools foster a variety of skill sets that positively contribute to the research, while conveniently falling under one faculty.
“You can work with an engineering school, you can work with a business school, you can work with a theatre school, but to have all [this] expertise under one roof is really enticing for everyone,” Dubois said.
Although FOL!E has a formal budget, “There will always be money for good ideas,” said the director.
Currently, Dubois has two FCAD undergrad students working for the lab and says he will be hiring more in the future, creating more job opportunities for FCAD students.
In addition to the current research projects in progress, there will also be a call for proposals every year. Dubois encourages students to approach faculty members if they have their own ideas for research projects.
Six research projects are already underway. Some examination topics include: audience involvement through physical movement, the inclusion of robotics into performance, and expanding on the idea of non-fiction live entertainment.
Dubois is funding three of the projects with help from participating FCAD schools. He looks to establish additional partners cautiously, to ensure that they fully understand the innovative nature of the lab.
Bella Sieira Dovali is a third-year creative industries student at Ryerson who has worked as a summer intern for Cirque du Soleil for the past two years.
“In this digital age, live entertainment has been hit in a very real way because consumers are all of the sudden obsessed with something that is so fundamentally and inherently different from live entertainment”, said Dovali.
“You can’t press replay on live entertainment. You can’t pause live entertainment, go make yourself a snack, [then] come back and play it,” she said.