Montreal, November 1st, 2017 – Internationally renowned Montreal-based dance company BJM – Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal is currently touring its contemporary repertoire around the world. The company will touch down in Montreal from December 5 to 9, 2017, to present the world premiere of Dance Me, a brand new multidisciplinary piece inspired by the work of the late singer–songwriter Leonard Cohen. His timeless, transcendent music and poetry are given new resonance in this creation by BJM. Dance Me interweaves design, visual, musical, dramatic and choreographic elements in an emotional and impressionistic performance that reflects the sweeping mastery of the legendary Cohen’s artistic legacy. A tribute. The show is part of the official programming of Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations.
Guided by artistic director Louis Robitaille, stage director Eric Jean, and the luminous energy of the performers, three international choreographers—Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Adonis Foniadakis and Ihsan Rustem—bring their artistic vision to Cohen’s work. From Suzanne to You Want It Darker, from First We Take Manhattan to A Thousand Kisses Deep, the show features nearly two dozen songs carefully selected from the singer–songwriter’s vast repertoire.
In partnership with a team of renowned designers, BJM combines dance, music and poetry in a dynamic cross-fertilization of artistic languages. “Our aim was to introduce innovative elements that would take us out of our comfort zone and open up new artistic perspectives,” says Louis Robitaille.
BJM has made the world its playground; its dancers are outstanding, they get rave reviews wherever they go. Leonard Cohen and his art are known around the world, and he was an exemplary international ambassador for Montreal. Their meeting was meant to be, as was the presentation of this show during our 20th anniversary season.
—Pierre Des Marais and Caroline Ohrt, Artistic Directors, Danse Danse.
Blending ballet and contemporary dance and foregrounding BJM’s characteristic, highly athletic style, the three creators bring their distinctive choreographic signatures to the show’s different sections. As the work unfolds, their contrasting and complementary gestural vocabularies intersect and merge into an elegant and vibrant whole.
Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal was founded in 1972 and has been in constant, dynamic evolution ever since. Led since 1998 by artistic director Louis Robitaille, the company has given more than 2,000 performances in 67 countries, reaching a total audience of more than two million. Featuring a troupe of international-calibre dancers, always true to its original vision and mission, BJM regularly collaborates with leading contemporary dance and ballet artists.
This show marks the return to BJM of brilliant Belgian–Colombian choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, whose previous creations for the company include Zip Zap Zoom(2009), hailed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Boston Globe and the Montreal Gazette as one of the top 10 dance performances of the year. She trained at the Royal Ballet School in Flanders, Belgium, and danced with the Scapino Ballet Rotterdam for 12 years. In 2003, she decided to focus her energies solely on choreography. A multitalented artist, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa also creates for theatre, opera, musical theatre and fashion events.
This is Andonis Foniadakis’ second collaboration with BJM, after the creation of Kosmos, presented by Danse Danse in 2015 and now part of BJM’s repertoire. After studying classical and contemporary dance at the National School of Dance in Athens, Greece, Mr. Foniadakis joined the Béjart Ballet (Lausanne, Switzerland), where he danced in many pieces by Béjart and choreographed several works for the company. Since 2001 he has been developing his international career: he has choreographed for several companies and ensembles, and his works have been featured at prestigious venues and festivals. In 2016, he was appointed Director of the Greek National Opera (GNO) Ballet for a three-year term, and programmed the 2016–17 and 2017–18 seasons. He is a resident choreographer of the GNO Ballet.
Dance Me is BJM’s first collaboration with Ihsan Rustem, a London-born choreographer now based in Zurich. His colourful, energetic style is infused with a keen sense of theatricality. He trained at the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance, then launched his professional career with Matthew Bourne’s company Adventures in Motion Pictures. Since then, he has danced for numerous international choreographers and created works for several companies, including Hubbard Street Dance Chicago 2, the Northwest Dance Project (Portland, Oregon), and the Istanbul State Ballet MDT (Turkey). Ihsan Rustem is currently the artistic director of the Dance Art Studio Ballettschule Luzern in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Artistic Direction: Louis Robitaille, Choreographies: Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Adonis Foniadakis and Ihsan Rustem, Dramaturgy and Stage Direction: Eric Jean, Music Direction: Martin Léon, Decor and Accessories: Pierre-Etienne Locas, Lighting Design and Production: Cédric Delorme-Bouchard, Video Design: Hub Studio – Gonzalo Soldi et Thomas Payette, Costume Design: Philippe Dubuc, Costume Production: Anne-Marie Veevaete, Dancers: Brandi Baker, Yosmell Calderon, Céline Cassone, Jeremy Coachman, Kennedy Henry, Alexander Hille, Kennedy Kraeling, Pier-Loup Lacour, Andrew Mikhaiel, Benjamin Mitchell, Saskya Pauzé-Bégin, Mark Sampson, Izabela Szylinska, Ashley Werhun.
Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto (December 15) \ National Arts Centre, Ottawa (February 23-24) \ Centre Culturel de Sherbrooke (April 17)
The Society for the Celebration of Montréal’s 375th Anniversary is a non-profit organization whose mission is to organize celebrations and socioeconomic contributions to mark Montréal’s 375th anniversary in 2017. With a focus on promoting Montreal expertise, it acts as a catalyst for local forces in carrying out its mandate: to mobilize the community, implement a funding strategy, rigorously manage public funds, develop quality programming and ensure the visibility of the celebrations.
The Society benefits from the support of the Ville de Montréal, the Quebec government, the Canadian government and private funding from 12 Great Montrealers. For more information, see http://www.375mtl.com.
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To learn more about the contribution of the Quebec government to Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations, click here.