[Chronique d’Odile Tremblay] Dancers, athletes of this art

I would like to tell you about dance, a fragile and demanding art that has been particularly affected by the pandemic. From one generation to the next, many children bend their bodies to difficult, endlessly repetitive exercises. When he tells us about the laziness of individual young people, I sometimes compare it in my mind with these entrechats, these dives, these beats, these wide gaps, the fruit of iron discipline acquired from youth. To understand the scale and persistence of their efforts, you must have already seen the girls and boys training in the studio. Dancers are athletes of art. The pursuit of perfection remains their daily bread.

“Journalists don’t talk about dance enough,” one of my readers, Gilles Castonguay, a longtime teacher of the subject, wrote to me. He was right. Classical or contemporary dance (the boundaries are blurred) used to get more media coverage in the past. But his fans praise him. For elegance, energy, courage. Too much? Nope.

I spoke with Anik Bissonnette, who directed the Montreal rue Rivard School of Quebec Ballet Superior, formerly under the auspices of the Grands Ballets Canadiens. Offers a 20-hour-a-week program for youth ages ten and older who are aiming for a professional career. Flexibility, body coordination, foot arch and other physical criteria are crucial for the student dancer. A fine ear and the ability to accompany the music with his movements. Add deep motivation, talent.

The former star dancer was in the troupe of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens from 1989 to 2009. Giselle, swan lake and other major repertoire roles were performed with his grace and talent. Loaded with awards, this devoted woman founded the Nutcracker Foundation in 2003 to introduce dance to youth from underprivileged neighborhoods. From 2008 to 2010, he led the groundbreaking and revolutionary company La La La Human Steps. Passionate about classical dance but trained in jazz ballet in the 1970s, she performed in all styles at Les Grands Ballets, which welcomed great choreographers from all over.

“At school, they banned skiing and other sports so as not to work the wrong muscles while I was training,” recalls the former ballerina. Encouraged today. Dancers from the Grands Ballets Canadiens do yoga and Pilates after the day. Our school also offers modern dance and hip-hop lessons. »

Because partitions bounce. “Dance is to dance. In the middle, in 2023, we no longer differentiate between the sexes. The mentality is changing. Of course, young people studying in the modern register will not reach the top Romeo and Julietbut many performances gather all kinds of dancers.

Moreover, her school has been hosting ballet instructors from Australia’s famous Stephanie Lake company for two weeks. The show ColossusAcclaimed everywhere, it will be presented in March at the Place des Arts with local performers and all student dancers. The selections come from the Rue Rivard Institute, which has classical roots as well as from the Montreal School of Contemporary Dance. 65 dancers from diverse backgrounds come together for a frenetic collective symphony.

Yes, but the effects of the pandemic… Anik Bissonnette sighs: “Dance schools have suffered a lot. Especially among 13-14 year old students. At this age, we don’t have the maturity to dance through Zoom. Nothing worked during the quarantine. And then ballet Nutcracker, which sparked early calls, lost the poster for two years. Later, recruitment became difficult. We have fewer students this year. »

An angel passes by: “But it all starts again! In December, before Nutcracker Grands Ballets, the halls were full. Subscribers return, tickets sell out. On TVA, a program like Revolution great for the dance world, but when it comes to building a career, people understand: you have to go through a school. We can’t get out of it.

An art renaissance from a black hole? Anik Bissonnette is confident about the future. However, the public needs to understand how dance provides a wide range of performances. We need to better target and inform. “If they don’t like a style, the audience will break the rules. But the cinema offers all kinds of films and everyone goes to see what they like. »

No, dance does not have the formidable communication tools of the seventh art, nor its gathering power. But like an elf it shakes and spins. Never let it fly.

To see in the video

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