DWTS Judge Carrie Ann Inaba Mourns a Terrible Loss

Disney Plus

“Dancing With the Stars” judge Carrie Ann Inaba is mourning the loss of an artist who “greatly” inspired her work as a dancer — Franco Dragone, the creator of some of Cirque du Soleil’s most iconic shows.


Dragone Died of a Heart Attack on September 30

Dragone’s death was announced on his official website. It says that he had been scouting production locations in Egypt when he had a heart attack and died in a hospital in Cairo.

The website reads:

It is with much sadness that we announce the passing of Franco Dragone. The Dragone company and Franco’s family thank you all for the outpouring of support and love from around the world. Franco was an entertainment Titan, but more importantly, to us, he was a colleague, a father, a husband and a friend.

On September 30, 2022, he experienced a heart attack and died in a hospital in Cairo. Franco was in Egypt exploring the historic location for a potential production.

We ask all of you, as he would, to continue to “shake the stage” and stretch the limits of what is possible. We will carry his torch, and we hope all those touched by him will do the same.

It also features a famous quote by Dragone that says, “Every little thing, even the most trivial, can be reinvented with imagination, as if it were seen through the eyes of a child.”

He joined Cirque du Soleil as its creative director in the 1980s and was instrumental in creating some of the production’s most iconic shows, like “Mystere,” “Alegria,” “O” and “La Nouba.” Dragone also produced Celine Dion’s Las Vegas residency show “A New Day.”


Inaba Said Dragone Was an Inspiration to Her in Many Ways

On Instagram, Inaba wrote a tribute to Dragone and his work, saying she wishes for him “etertanl peace and creativity.”

Inaba wrote:

I never met him. But my life was greatly inspired by his work. #cirquedusoleil #mystere #o

He had a way of giving the fringe, both in thought and in physicality the center stage, validating and exalting what people traditionally shied away from. The circus in general was originally designed to give us the thrill of watching people do death defying acts in our presence, bringing us closer to the things we are afraid of and giving a home to people and creatures that were incredibly unique.

“Circus freaks” is what they called people that were just different. Special souls born with unique gifts and attributes. He celebrated this. And gave them space to shine and intrigue. Clowns are incredible talented artists and philosophers who through physical humor or radical costumes, force us to see ourselves and look closer at the human condition. Giving us breaks from the danger of the death defying acts.

In the shows he created, the beautiful people of the circus world, people with incredible skills and talents and unique attributes from across the globe were given a world as incredibly fantastical as they were to perform in. And this in turn gave those who had the good fortune of seeing this work an opportunity to leave the cognitive mind behind and enter the world of our imaginations where everyone and everything belongs.

The “Dancing With the Stars” judge finished by writing that his shows personally inspired her “to [her] core.”

“When I saw his shows, I felt like I was home… he inspired my work with @madonna greatly,” wrote Inaba. “Thank you. I’m truly grateful for your artistry and contributions to this world.”

“Dancing With the Stars” airs Monday nights at 8 p.m. Eastern/5 p.m. Pacific time on Disney Plus.

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