Creative. Stage. Vision.
“The universe is made up of stories, not atoms”
~ Muriel Rukeyser ~
Krista Monson is one of the most relevant creative forces in the entertainment industry. As a writer, creative director and stage director, her experience and expertise encompass a remarkable range of live entertainment genres including circus, concert, theater, international special events, and social action. At the heart of her work in all areas is her commitment to creating storytelling and transformative experiences for any audience. She is also an inspiring instructor and guest speaker. Her mission is to create excellence through collaboration while influencing others to reach their full potential.
Cirque du Soleil
Monson spent 13 years with Cirque du Soleil, first as Artistic Director of “O”, followed by Casting Director for Cirque du Soleil’s resident shows worldwide and most recently as Writer, Creative and Stage Director. In 2012, her work with Cirque du Soleil was featured in the CNN series Leading Women, an OMEGA Ladymatic sponsored series showcasing outstanding women at the top of their chosen fields. The series also featured Melinda Gates, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer,
But life wasn’t always about the wonders of Cirque du Soleil …
Before The Circus
Before joining the circus, Monson was a director, choreographer, instructor and producing director. A native Canadian, she directed and choreographed countless works in music theater, international special events, and multi-disciplinary genres, passionately fusing dance, music, theater and athleticism. Krista acted as principal choreographer for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2001 IAAF World Championships in Athletics, the third largest sporting event in the world. She conceived and co-created the show RhythMatix which toured Canada and the United States. She is the recipient of two Elizabeth Sterling Haynes awards in the category of Outstanding Choreography.
In 2001, having achieved certain success but ready for a new challenge, she and her husband, bassist Paul Shihadeh, decided to sell their house and belongings in Canada and move to the US to ‘be hungry again’.
In Los Angeles, the couple got what they wished for and found themselves putting coins in laundry machines as they had in their earlier years. They lived off of savings and spent time adjusting to life in California with their one-year old son. Luckily, they had the good fortune to meet extraordinary friends and collaborators along their way.
Krista freelanced in Los Angeles as a tap and musical theater instructor for Triple Threat Dance Conventions, Millennium Dance Complex and Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA). She performed and trained with the Mark Goodman Tap Company, choreographed music theater and worked as a designer in corporate entertainment. Soon afterward, she received a call inviting her to meet with Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas. That meeting led to her to enter the astounding theater world of circus arts and notably the world of Cirque du Soleil.
Monson received the position of Artistic Director of the renowned production “O” in Las Vegas. She was responsible for upholding the show’s artistic vision and integrity – a task she accomplished with great success by leading a collaboration of performing artists, coaches, stage managers, performance medicine specialists, and technicians, all stemming from a wide array of cultures, languages, and areas of expertise. It was her job to ensure “O” maintained its position as one of the world’s theatrical tour de force.
Following her work as Artistic Director, Monson was invited to pilot and develop the first delocalized casting department for Cirque du Soleil based in the United States. Along with an international team of scouts and advisors, she was accountable for the placement of hundreds of artists for all resident shows worldwide including shows in Las Vegas, Orlando, Macau, Tokyo, New York, and Los Angeles. She gained a profound understanding of hundreds of acrobatic and artistic disciplines in addition to developing a keen instinct for casting the right artist in the right position.
Writing and Directing
In 2012, Monson was asked to write and direct the inaugural One Night for One Drop – a global, philanthropic event raising funds and awareness for One Drop, the organization created by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté dedicated to ensuring sustainable access to safe water for the most vulnerable communities in the world. Krista and her team created a spectacular production involving over 400 Cirque du Soleil artists, designers, technicians and special guests including film composer Danny Elfman and fashion designer Roberto Cavalli. Monson returned as Director of Creation of One Night for One Drop in 2017 where she spearheaded the production and directed the award-winning film segment “The Climate Reality Project: 24 Hours of Climate Change” founded by Nobel Laureate and former U.S. Vice-President, Al Gore. Also with Cirque du Soleil, Monson served as writer and director of Allavita!, an original stage production exclusively created for Expo 2015 in Milan under the theme “Feeding the Planet: Energy for Life”. In 2016, she was invited by the United Nations Foundation to serve as creative director for the first World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, featuring celebrities Forest Whitaker, Ashley Judd and Daniel Craig. In 2017 she served as guest choreographer for Céline Dion’s concert series at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Most recently Monson wrote and directed the highly successful production VIVID for the Friedrichstadt Palast in Berlin, Europe’s largest stage, where she collaborated with world renowned hat and fashion designer Philip Treacy, set designer Michael Cotten and costume designer Stefano Canulli. Monson is the first woman in the theater’s 100-year history to serve as writer and director.
In Real Life
Krista is proud of her diverse background ranging from canadian theater to internationally renowned circus and concert work. She is passionate about bringing together the authenticity of performing artists as human beings within the demands of the show business industry, wherever one is in the world. Monson has enthusiastically shared this message as a panelist and guest lecturer with Cirque du Soleil at North Carolina School of the Arts, National Theater Conference and Chapman University as well for Disney’s Club Penguin, University of Alberta, and numerous high schools in both Canada and the United States.
Monson received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Faculté St. Jean, University of Alberta. She is the recipient of the alumni award, “Prix d’avenir prommeteur” and in 2015 was the recipient of the University of Alberta’s prestigious Alumni Honour Award, recognizing significant contributions locally and internationally.
Krista Monson lives in Las Vegas with her husband and their two sons.