Ryan Bishti is the Director of Cirque le Soir, a family-owned circus company based in Vancouver. He is also the director of the Circus Arts Program at the University of British Columbia. The Cirque Le Soir specializes in acrobatics, contortion, and fine arts. They have performed in Canada and around the world for over 40 years. They have produced 11 shows, including The Impossible and Beautiful Things.
Ryan Bishti was born on February 22, 1950, in Montreal, Quebec, to Lebanese parents who had immigrated to Canada from Lebanon about one year before his birth. Bisht grew up in Westmount with his three siblings (two sisters and one brother). Bisht graduated from Queen’s University with an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature and philosophy. He then went to England, where he studied clowning at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. After completing his studies there, he returned to Canada. He began teaching clowning at a community college and performing with Vancouver’s Circus Buskers’ Troupe (founded by his brother-in-law). In 1989 Bishti co-founded Cirque le Soir, which expanded from a small troupe into a full-fledged circus company that now tours nationally and internationally for over 40 years (with more than 250 performances per year). He has been the Director of Cirque le Soir since its inception.
In 2005, Bishti was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal (the highest honor of the Queen of Canada). In 2007, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada. In 2008, Bishti received the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case. In 2010, Bishti was inducted into Nova Scotia’s Hall of Fame for his contributions to arts and culture in Nova Scotia. In 2012, he was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in Toronto.
Ryan Bishti’s success has been based on his determination to get the circus out into communities and schools. He has been able to do this by being able to produce a quality show that is accessible to everyone. Because of this, he has created a company that is not only financially successful but also community and socially active.
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