Les Grands Ballets : a Montrealer takes the lead
March 21, 2019
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As he started his second year as the artistic director of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Ivan Cavallari proposed a special theme for the company’s 62nd season: a celebration of women. One highlight of the season is the ascent of star dancer Myriam Simon Mechaiekh to principal dancer, last fall. Myriam will play Giselle in a Grands Ballets production from April 11 to 14. She spoke with us about her role in the company
WHAT DO THE GRANDS BALLETS CANADIENS MEAN TO YOU?
To me, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal (GB) is where I built my foundation. I started my career here, found my inspiration here. This is where I first dreamed of becoming a dancer, when I would watch Anick Bissonnette, who was the GB’s principal dancer in the 90s. It’s a dream come true to be able to play a role like Giselle, because I fell in love with dance while watching Anick Bissonnette perform that same role! I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to perform it now.
WERE YOU ALWAYS PLANNING TO RETURN ?
One of my dearest wishes was to come home to dance for my family, friends and the Montreal audience. I’ve travelled a lot, I’ve had the good fortune to dance on the world’s greatest stages, but there’s no doubt in my mind that we have a wonderful city, and an audience unique in North America. That’s what pushes me to work as hard as I can. Coming back to Montreal also gives me the opportunity to share my global experiences with the company’s younger members. It’s a new phase in my career.
WHAT ARE YOUR AMBITIONS FOR LES GRANDS BALLETS ?
At the Stuttgart Ballet, we had a very classic repertoire. It was important for me to return to GB, to work with some more contemporary pieces. So it’s a renewal for me. But at the same time, the Stuttgart Ballet is part of my identity, so there are some neo-classical touches in my approach, a slightly different language that I want to share with Les Grands Ballets. I think it’s important for a company to have dancers with different levels of experience, so that the students are exposed to more options and dance vocabularies. We are lucky that Les Grands Ballets encourage that.
HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP A PRIMARY DANCER’S RESPONSIBILITIES ?
It is of course a role with many responsibilities, because you’re expected to perform at the highest level while continuing to learn. The title also comes with being a role model for young dancers at the École supérieure de ballet du Québec. So we become mentors who are asked to share advice that comes from experience, and to help nurture ambition. Being a primary dancer is also about incorporating your experience into the way you dance, the way you interpret a work.
April 11 to 14
Place des Arts
Giselle is one of the treasures of the classical repertoire, and this adaptation by artistic director Ivan Cavallari stays true to tradition. In this production – last staged some 20 years ago – the tragic ballet explores the powerful theme of all-embracing love, impervious to madness and even death. Here, the fantastical and the real clash, captivate and devastate.
May 16 to 25
Place des Arts
With the Parlami d’Amore program, Les Grands Ballets bring together three rising stars of European dance: Marcos Mauro, Douglas Lee and Marwik Schmitt. The three choreographers, who each have a unique vision and language, have accepted the challenge of creating a new work about love.
May 30 to June 1
Place des Arts
The Soirée des Étoiles returns for a second year to close the season on a high note. The exceptional show will feature the best dances from the world’s most prestigious companies. Between dance pieces, Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal will sing the songs of the great Céline Dion.