1 Creators

The contemporary dance trailblazers of the eighties played an important role in establishing Montréal’s current reputation as a dance epicenter. Several of these forerunning leaders in dance direct their own companies, such as Marie Chouinard. Including, up until 2016, Ginette Laurin with O Vertigo, and Édouard Lock with La La La Human Steps. Based on size, budget and breadth of activity, the three most important companies in the province today are Marie Chouinard, Ballet Jazz Montreal and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal. Initially, they all struggled for recognition and financial stability. Now, these companies present internationally, hire salaried dancers and administrative staff and operate with annual budgets that reach into the millions.

Montréal is also host to a growing number of mid-sized companies ranging anywhere from five to twenty years old. These include, amongst others, Daniel Léveillé Danse, Par B.L.eux (Benoît Lachambre), Flak (José Navas), Nyata Nyata (Zab Maboungou), Sinha Danse (Roger Sinha), and Carré des Lombes (Danièle Desnoyers). More recent companies weave themselves into the fabric, such as MAYDAY (Mélanie Demers), Dave St-Pierre, and RUBBERBANDance Group. Most of these artists started out as independent choreographers who eventually formed companies in order to be eligible for operating grants, amongst other reasons. Operating funds allow them to hire full-time administrative personnel. The dancers that work with these companies are self-employed, and work on a contract-to-contract basis.

Recently, certain companies have begun to integrate independent artists under their name, such as Clara Furey and Dana Michel with Par B.L.eux, or Catherine Gaudet and Frédérick Gravel with Daniel Léveillé Danse. Alternatively, certain independent choreographers joined together to form a company as with Je suis Julio or Lorganisme. These new models developed predominantly out of a desire and need for mentorship, sharing, and pooling administrative resources.

To be termed an “independent” choreographer, as is the case for many choreographers working today, there must be an absence of Non Profit Organisation (ONBL) status and a Board of Directors. These independent artists have any number of years of experience, and range from established (Georges Stamos) to mid-career (Nicolas Cantin, Helen Simard) to emerging. Every year, many emerging choreographers begin to ply their craft in Montréal as independents. Some take the traditional route of first working as dancers for several years before delving into choreography. While others may be recent graduates of one of Montréal’s several professional or university dance programs. After all, the paths and possibilities are manifold.


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