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Fostering locomotives: Towards an intergenerational sector

In a rebuilding sector, mutual support between career artists and emerging artists is more crucial than ever to fully rejuvenate the mechanisms of dance in Quebec.

One of the most tangible consequences of the pandemic on the performing arts industry in Quebec has certainly been this exacerbated need to reinvent the sector. Encouraged by governments, this energy has been integrated into practices while the interruption of activities has forced creativity as much as it has opened up sometimes unlikely possibilities. The massive influx of new labor has also brought fresh—though less experienced—perspectives to the distribution chain. Thus, as programming slowly sees its congestion wane, these new lenses are being adopted by institutions that want to compete in innovation to rally audiences that are still too absent. In this situation, renewal and originality are often taken literally, at the expense of practices and visions that strengthen our sector.

Thus, some venues program young companies in headline positions, motivated by their desire for fresh blood as much as by the influence of fashion trends. Experienced companies—sometimes better known internationally than here, sometimes less adept at social media—thus find themselves relegated to the background. The still-young structures of emerging companies are overwhelmed by the impressive distribution machine, while the robust structures of established institutions gather dust by operating in slow motion, and incidentally, become weakened. With emerging artists often burning out in this baptism by fire and career artists whose embers need air to continue fueling the flame of many, the sector becomes unbalanced, risking a more difficult recovery to keep ignited (I promise, no more fire imagery).

In this context and subjectively, CAPAS is pleased to see the Marie Chouinard Company—which it represents in Quebec—open the next major professional meeting, Parcours Danse. But beyond our own interest, we enthusiastically salute the commitment of a major live art platform to rely on experienced artists for the sector's recovery.

Indeed, by encouraging the locomotives of the dance sector—these companies that have proven themselves over the past decades—and their pulling effect, both the emerging talents and all the players in the field will be strengthened. The tested artistic models and robust organizational structures of these companies offer an opportunity to re-engage the public through strong creations that can either circulate a successful work or absorb a less profitable tour. These institutions have also suffered the repercussions of the pandemic, and their survival is compromised if they do not receive the necessary support to navigate the recovery. By reclaiming their role as locomotives, these Ballets Jazz Montreal and Nederlands Dans Theater from here and abroad can regain the necessary organizational health to pave the way for younger companies, to serve as examples to follow and eventually—when maturity and solidity are reinforced—to be figures to challenge and replace in the dance ecosystem.

Moreover, experienced organizations play a crucial role in renewing the sector: whether through incubation and mentorship offered by certain companies such as Compagnie Flak by Josée Navas to young choreographer Charles-Alexis Desgagnés, through choreographic commissions for early-career artists like Ballets Jazz Montreal for Ausia Jones in the triptych  ESSENCE, or through strengthening the community via the Prix de la danse de Montréal, institutions deploy various strategies to participate in the vitality and renewal of the sector. For CAPAS, propelling Marie Chouinard, Virginie Brunelle, or Ismaël Mouaraki facilitates the JOAT en tournée and Charles-Alexis Desgagnés to ensure each one a thriving career, regardless of its stage.

This circularity of the dance discipline, while not new, is certainly more necessary than ever. The cohabitation between emerging and established has always contributed to a healthy artistic emulation. The intergenerational relationship within the ecosystem must be nurtured with openness so that novelty continues to grow on a solid and lively foundation. Institutions and emerging talents will thus continue to complement each other by offering mutual stability and freshness, longevity and reinvention.


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