Taking the Leap is a project initiated by Lys Stevens with indispensable structural support from Studio 303. Many individuals (see Contributors) have contributed to the work over the years.

Originally written and published in book form in 2002, Taking the Leap was updated every few years and was downloadable as a PDF on Studio 303’s website. In an effort to be more accessible and more easily updated, Studio 303 launched Taking the Leap as an interactive website in 2010.

INTRODUCTION to the 4th edition (2010)

It has been eight years since the first edition of Taking the Leap was published, and in that time the Montréal professional dance milieu has changed significantly. We lost the Festival international de nouvelle danse (FIND), but the Festival de théâtre des Amériques (FTA) has since become annual to accommodate more dance programming, reborn as the Festival TransAmériques, keeping its iconic acronym. Similarly, the Fondation Jean-Pierre-Perrault faced major financial troubles, but its beautiful converted church – the first building entirely dedicated to contemporary dance in Québec – continues to serve the professional dance community as it has been entrusted to Circuit-Est, centre chorégraphique.

New infrastructure has been on the recent winds of change, in particular with the Quartier des Spectacles, a significant investment in cultural spaces around Place des Arts. The Conseil des arts de Montréal (CAM) has moved into the majestic former Bibliothèque nationale building facing Parc La Fontaine with newly renovated studios. Compagnie Marie Chouinard is the new owner of a building facing Parc Jeanne-Mance. Plans are in motion for Tangente and LADMMI to relocate within the Quartier des Spectacles.

This change has arguably come about through a renewal of political awareness and involvement by Montréal’s dance community. Significantly, Québec proved its commitment to the arts through a decisive voice in the 2009 federal elections, retaining a minority conservative government, partly in reaction to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s anti-arts statements. The recent États généraux, a coming-together of the professional dance sector led by the Regroupement québécois de la danse (RQD), created a manifesto for dance, with 80 recommendations treating issues ranging from health to ethics to ‘la relève’ – upcoming artists and their place in the dance ecology.

Despite an abundance of talent and enthusiasm, emerging dance artists often lack some of the practical knowledge required for the successful launching of their careers. The purpose of this publication is to provide tools to facilitate the difficult transition from student or amateur to professional within the vibrant dance community of Montréal. Allow it to nourish your experience – the possibilities are endless.

The practice of creating your first professional works of art is a learning process and mistakes will be made. You are taking a great risk by putting your art before an audience, but this should only make you stronger. Remember that artwork is important work. This world needs more artists, so be proud to call yourself an artist!

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