Artistic Director: Jean Grand-Maître
Born in Hull, Quebec, Jean Grand-Maître began his dance training at York University in Toronto and later graduated from Montreal’s L’École supérieure de danse du Québec. He performed with Ballet British Columbia, Theatre Ballet of Canada and occasionally with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal.
His notable career as an internationally acclaimed dance maker was launched in 1994 when Reid Anderson, then Artistic Director of The National Ballet of Canada, commissioned a work that was later toured to Europe. Following that Anderson also commissioned a work for Stuttgart Ballet. In doing so, Anderson opened many doors and within a few years, Grand-Maître was receiving major commissions from Europe’s leading opera houses.
Jean Grand-Maître has been hailed as one of the most outstanding Canadian choreographers and Artistic Directors of his generation after a decade creating contemporary ballets for such leading North American and European companies as Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, Ballet British Columbia, The National Ballet of Canada, the Paris Opera Ballet, the Munich Opera Ballet, the National Norwegian Ballet, the Stuttgart Ballet, the National Ballet of Cuba, the Hartford Ballet, Ballet Jorgen and the Teatro alla Scala of Milan. He has also staged large scale musicals, operas and circus acts. He has collaborated extensively with actors, acrobats, all types of dancers as well as pop and classical singers. He has created dances for numerous award winning television and film specials.
Grand-Maître was appointed Artistic Director of Alberta Ballet in 2002 at the age of 39.
Under his leadership Alberta Ballet has been transformed into one of Canada’s most exciting and acclaimed companies. Its repertoire has expanded to embrace not only the many new works Grand-Maître has commissioned – including his own series of ballets inspired by today’s leading popular singer/ musicians – but new productions of 19th century full-length classics and 20th century choreographic masterworks. Regardless of the repertoire, Alberta Ballet’s dancers, whether on stage, film or television, have become renowned for their technical virtuosity, versatility and ability to communicate with audiences across Canada and abroad.
During his tenure, Alberta Ballet has evolved from a chamber company to a full-fledged ballet troupe, now Canada’s second largest, with 28 dancers performing more than six programs every season. He has made ballet relevant to Albertans and has played an instrumental role in showing a different side of their culture to the world. By his judicious selection of dancers and strategic development of the repertoire, Grand-Maître has enabled Alberta Ballet become a company capable of performing everything from the most avant-garde contemporary works to the most demanding classical masterpieces. The originality of his programming combined with the passionate commitment of its dancers has earned Alberta Ballet a strong following in its dual provincial homes, Calgary and Edmonton, and abroad.
Since 2002, he has curated more than 75 different programs, highlighted by a growing presence of 20th and 21st century dance makers. He has commissioned 38 one-act ballets, as well as 19 full-length works. He has also revived 21 one-act ballets and 13 full-length ballets from the company’s repertoire. All were created or revived for Alberta Ballet by more than 30 highly established and/or emerging choreographers from across Canada and from around the world.
He was also appointed Director of Choreography for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. This was an extremely significant opportunity that brought Alberta Ballet to international prominence.
During his 14 year tenure with Alberta Ballet, he has set or choreographed numerous ballets of his own. All have received considerable public and critical acclaim, including Celestial Themes (2002), The Winter Room (2002), Carmen (2003), Cinderella (2004), Dangerous Liaisons (2004), Vigil of Angels (2005), Romeo and Juliet (2005), The Fiddle and The Drum – co-created with Joni Mitchell (2007), Mozart's Requiem (2008), Bolero (2009), Love Lies Bleeding (2010) - created with the participation of Sir Elton John, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (2011) - created with the participation of Sarah McLachlan; Chaconne (2013) for the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique et de Danse de Lyon, France (2011), Balletlujah! (2013) - created with the participation of k.d. lang and Class Acts (2014), a full length homage to the Hollywood musicals of the 1940s.
He has also initiated Up Close- a studio series with amazing success, promoting young choreographers in an intimate performance setting.