Artistic Director of Alberta Ballet Jean Grand-Maître (Photo by Gerard Yunker)
(Calgary, AB) – Celebrated Artistic Director Jean Grand-Maître, C.M., the longest-serving Artistic Director in Alberta Ballet’s history, is making plans for a new chapter.
Grand-Maître has worked with the Ballet to introduce a transition plan that will unfold over three years with the naming of his successor, Alberta Ballet’s Christopher Anderson.
“It has been a privilege to serve the wonderful people of Alberta for whom I will always keep a very special place in my heart. Today, Alberta Ballet has a strong and growing subscriber base and thankfully, we remain sustainable in a highly challenging economic environment,” said Grand-Maître. “I’ve been honoured to have had such a long tenure and I feel that for me personally, as well as for the Alberta Ballet, the time has come for mutual renewal.”
Identifying the ways in which it was the right time for a change, both for the Ballet and for himself, he began to work in close collaboration with his Board of Directors on the three-year transition. Grand-Maître recommended Anderson as an exceptional choice for the leadership role, citing Anderson’s wide and eclectic knowledge of ballet repertoire and his business acumen, particularly in the context for Alberta-based arts organizations.
Said Board Chair Daryl Fridhandler, “We’re looking forward to the excitement that comes with this kind of change, celebrating the incredible successes realized under Jean’s leadership and the unfolding of a new artistic vision from Christopher.”
Effective immediately, Anderson has been named Artistic Director Designate.
The 2020-21 season will include new works from each of Grand-Maître and Anderson. In July 2021, both will hold the title of Co-Artistic Director. For the 22-23 season, Grand-Maître will remain on staff as Artist-In-Residence and Anderson will be Artistic Director.
“I inherited a great company from the artistic directors who led Alberta Ballet before me, and it’s important to me that Christopher has all of the same support and more from me for his artistic vision,” said Grand-Maître. “I have endless admiration for Christopher. His invaluable collaboration over the past five years has shown me that he’s the ideal candidate to sustain our artistic excellence and deep connection with the community. This is truly moving Alberta Ballet from strength-to-strength,” said Grand-Maître.
Jean Grand-Maître and Joni Mitchell Discuss The Fiddle and the Drum
Grand-Maître, who has led the organization to significant acclaim since 2002, developed the ballet company’s national and international profile by creating celebrated portrait ballets in close collaboration with this century’s greatest singer-songwriters, including the likes of Joni Mitchell, Elton John, k.d. lang and The Tragically Hip. Grand-Maître’s achievements also include strengthening of the roster of dancers. Under him, the ballet company increasingly demonstrated its eclectic talents, performing with impressive mastery a diverse repertoire, stretching from the exacting choreography of the classics to challenging avant-garde vernaculars.
Under Grand-Maître’s leadership, Alberta Ballet has been seen by hundreds of thousands of spectators on stages across the world and by billions more through televised award-winning broadcasts. The dancers also had a starring role in the Opening Ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games. Today, Alberta Ballet dancers are renowned for their capacity to inhabit theatrical works of great intensity with contemporary sensitivity, courage and passion.
“I’m one of a very small group of artists who have been Alberta Ballet’s artistic director. Since 1966, there have been only six of us. When I look to arts organizations around the world, I see gradual transitions are the most successful,” said Jean. “Christopher is an inspired and talented leader. He has all of my support and all of my confidence for his vision to launch Alberta Ballet into an exciting new chapter.”
Anderson joined Alberta Ballet’s artistic team in 2015 after an illustrious career as a dancer, choreographer and teacher with two of the largest ballet ensembles in the United States. His professional career began at the Boston Ballet, but he spent much of his time at Salt Lake City’s Ballet West, where he performed in seminal works by the most celebrated chorographers in ballet history. When Grand-Maître offered him the position of Ballet Master with Alberta Ballet in 2015, Anderson had a weighty decision: accepting the role meant retiring from a 16-year dance career.
Anderson cites his years as a dancer as having been blessed with many incredible opportunities, borne out of working with great artists and dancing iconic works, and he attributes these experiences as informing him with a deep understanding of the communicative power of art and dance. Ultimately though, the talent he saw among the Alberta Ballet dancers was a key motivator for him when he chose to join Alberta Ballet.
After a season as Ballet Master, Anderson took on an expanded role as Associate Artistic Director and became more involved in the Ballet’s artistic operations. Audiences have already had a glimpse of Christopher’s creative potential. He has premiered several works with Alberta Ballet, garnering enthusiastic receptions in both Calgary and Edmonton: Cinderella (2017), The Sleeping Beauty (2018) and Sixth Breath (2019).
Now in his fifth season, Anderson is still most passionate about the strength of the company’s talent. “I am so excited about the future for Alberta Ballet. Between the talented artists in our studio and the strong community around us, Alberta Ballet’s potential is limitless,” he said.
About Alberta Ballet
Alberta Ballet, under the direction of Artistic Director Jean Grand-Maître, connects audiences with dance that excites and inspires. The company reaches thousands of Albertans over the course of its September to May season and has toured across Canada and internationally. Through both the originality of its programming and the talent of its classically-trained dancers, Alberta Ballet has earned a passionate following in its twin home cities, Calgary and Edmonton, and abroad.
Press Release Via: Alberta Ballet