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

I want to talk to you about dance, a fragile and demanding art that has been so badly affected by the pandemic. From one generation to another, countless children bend their bodies to do difficult exercises and repeat them endlessly. When we are told about the slackness of certain youths, I sometimes compare it in my mind to this entrechat, this dive, this beat, this wide gap, the fruit of the iron discipline acquired from a young age. You must have seen girls and boys training in studios to understand the extent and persistence of their efforts. The dancers are art athletes. The search for excellence remains their daily bread.

“Journalists don’t talk much about dance,” I wrote one of my readers, Gilles Castonguay, a longtime teacher of the discipline. He’s right. Classical or contemporary dance (the boundaries are watered down) were used to get more media coverage in the past. But his admirers praise him. For elegance, for energy, for greatness. Pretty much? Not.

I spoke with Anik Bissonnette, who directs in Montreal, rue Rivard, Quebec High School of Ballet, formerly under the auspices of Grands Ballets Canadiens. It offers a 20 hour a week program for young people aged ten and over aiming for a professional career. Flexibility, body coordination, leg arches and other physical criteria determine apprentice dancers to a large extent. His ears are delicate too, his ability to accompany music with his movements. Add deep motivation, flair.

The former star dancer was in the Canadiens’ Les Grands Ballets troupe from 1989 to 2009. gisel, Swan Lake and other great repertoire roles brought about by her grace and talent. This committed woman, laden with gifts, founded the Nutcracker Fund in 2003 to introduce dance to young people from underprivileged neighborhoods. From 2008 to 2010, he led the fast-growing and revolutionary company La La La Human Steps. Passionate about classical dance but having practiced jazz ballet during the 1970s, she also performs in all styles at Les Grands Ballets, which welcomes great choreographers from everywhere.

“At school, during my training, we were forbidden from skiing and other sports to avoid working the wrong muscles, recalls the former ballerina. Today pushed. Dancers from the Grands Ballets Canadiens, after their day, went to do yoga and Pilates. In our school we also teach contemporary dance, hip-hop. »

Because the partition jumps. “Dancing is dancing. In mid-2023, we no longer discriminate between genders. Mentality changed. Of course, young people who are trained in contemporary lists will not reach the top Romeo and Julietbut many shows feature dancers of all kinds.

Moreover, the school has received a ballet instructor from the famous Australian company Stephanie Lake for two weeks. Event Giant statue, acclaimed everywhere, will be presented in March at the Place des Arts, with a local cast, all apprentice dancers. Those selected are from the institution rue Rivard with its classical roots as well as from the School of Contemporary Dance of Montreal. Sixty-five dancers from various backgrounds come together for an insane collective symphony.

Yes, but the effects of the pandemic… Anik Bissonnette sighs: “The dance school has suffered a lot. Especially among students aged 13-14 years. At this age, we don’t have the maturity to dance over Zoom yet. Nothing worked during lockdown. And then ballet Nutcracker, which evoked the initial call, lost its poster for two years. Furthermore, recruitment is difficult. We have fewer student classes this year. »

An angel passes by: “But it all starts again! In December, before Nutcracker of the Grands Ballets, the hall is full. Customers return, tickets sold out. On TVA, programs like Revolution great for the world of dance, but when it comes to making a career, people get it: you have to go through school. We can’t get out of it.

The artistic renaissance that emerged from its black hole? Anik Bissonnette is confident in the future. However, the public must understand how dance offers various kinds of performances. We need to better target and inform. “If they don’t like a style, the audience will lose discipline. But cinemas offer all kinds of movies and everyone goes to see what they like. »

No, dance does not possess the seventh art’s immense means of communication or its driving force. But it shook and spun like a fairy. Never let him fly.

To see in the video

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