Death of the circus man Jan Rok Achard 

Death of the circus man Jan Rok Achard
© Michel Mercé
November 30, 2022

JAN ROK ACHARD (1943-2022): the departure of a visionary with unifying dreams.

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Dear circus friends, 

En Piste is deeply saddened to announce the death of Jan Rok Achard. A circus arts pioneer whose career followed an exceptional path, Jan Rok Achard was surrounded by loved ones – to whom we offer our deepest sympathies – at the time of his death, on November 30, in Montreal, at the age of 79, following a long illness.

Jan Rok Achard cofounded En Piste, the first circus arts alliance in Canada, officially incorporated in 1997, which today has close to 600 members. A co-founder of the TOHU, Cité des arts du cirque, he also served as director of the National Circus School of Montreal, as well as for touring programs of the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde’s Jeunes Comédiens and for theatre productions at the Collège Lionel-Groulx, where he held numerous other positions. Jan Rok Achard was also the founder of the first edition of La Trac, a round table established to discuss the state of circus arts in Canada. Passionate about the performing arts, he acted as a consultant for many artistic and governmental institutions, including the international affairs departments in Europe and Latin America of the Ministry of Culture and Communications of Quebec as well as Cirque du Soleil, The 7 Fingers, La Place des Arts, and the National Theatre School of Canada, where he studied production.

His expertise and influence extended far beyond our borders. From the Nordic countries to Argentina to Palestine, he pursued a career as an eminence grise, notably as a co-founder of the World Federation of Circus Schools and as the president of the European Federation of Professional Circus Schools. Jan Rok Achard also served as a consultant in the creation and development of artistic and cultural enterprises for a multitude of international projects.

In June 2022, when he was named Compagnon des arts et des lettres du Québec and was awarded the insignia of the Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec, Jan Rok Achard reminded us of the importance of coming together in order to become a mobilizing force. He spoke of having felt that circus professionals needed an organization that could bring them together, offer training, and give them the tools and professional expertise to maximize their artistic and creative potential. He was not afraid of controversy or heated debates to ensure the advancement of issues. The work of this visionary thinker, considered an architect of the development of circus arts, has deeply contributed to the recognition of contemporary circus.

If our history is rich with decades of love for circus, Jan Rok Achard is the person who knew how to instill this unwavering passion that helps define who we are today. Thanks to him, the importance of working collectively still resonates and continues to guide our actions. We are very grateful to him.


A tribute to Jan Rok Achard will be held in the Studio of The 7 Fingers on Sunday, December 11. Relatives, friends, and colleagues are invited to attend starting at 1:30 p.m.

The ceremony and speeches will begin at 3:30 p.m. Address: 2111, boul. Saint-Laurent (at the corner of Sherbrooke), Montreal.

You can also send your testimonials here on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/476266541262013 

Read the press release by clicking on the button below.  

Press Release