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Les Grands Ballets Launches Centre for Dance Therapy

By Kathleen Smith, Andrew Guilbert
  • GBCM_DANSE_THERAPIE / Photo by Marie-Reine Mattera
  • Left to right / de gauche à droite: M. Alain Dancyger, directeur général, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal ; M. Christian Paire, directeur général, Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM) ; M. Gradimir Pankov, directeur artistique, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal ; Mme Diane Gadoury-Hamelin, adjointe parlementaire au ministre de la Santé et des Services sociaux et députée de Masson ; M. Christian Sénéchal, directeur, Centre national de danse-thérapie, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal ; Dr Louis Bherer, chercheur au Centre de recherche de l'Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal et directeur scientifique du Centre PERFORM de l'Université Concordia / Photo byJean-Laurent Ratel_

At a press conference on April 23rd, 2013, Alain Dancyger, executive director of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal unveiled the initial phase of an ambitious multi-year plan to establish a National Centre for Dance Therapy in Québec. The project was instigated by Grands Ballets but is being developed in partnership with four university health centres - the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal (IUGM), the PERFORM Centre of Concordia University, the Saint-Justine University Health Centre (CHU) and the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM).

According to Dancyger, the initiative is connected to the company’s upcoming move into new custom-built premises (slated for 2015). “Our mission basically stays the same,” he points out. “We are a ballet company. It’s because we are a ballet company that we can reach out in that fashion – but our vision has definitely enlarged. The entire proposition is holistic and collaborative. I think this kind of thinking is the future.”

In its early phase the scheme is being largely limited to research and training through pilot projects with the four current partners that use Dance Therapy to assist the elderly and young people with eating disorders. The impact on the larger dance community will start to be felt in 2015 when the new building and centre open and the first cohort of trained Dance Therapists become certified.

Dancyger and his team are very aware of interest within the dance community as a result of surveys delivered via the Regroupement québécois de la danse, the Canadian Dance Assembly and the Dancer Transition Resource Centre. “We know there are many who would like to partner with us on this project,” he says. Fundraising is ongoing.

The scope and the potential benefits of the project are huge and far-reaching for both artists and individuals within society. Dancyger feels it reflects the need for what he calls “new paradigms” in the arts. “We’re connecting the dots that were not supposed to be connected,” he points out. “I believe that the arts should pervade every single aspect of the community, whether you’re sick or not. It’s an anti-discriminatory position that we’re taking.”

The National Centre for Dance Therapy (under the directorship of Christian Sénéchal) will begin training Dance Therapists for certification by the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) this coming fall.

Learn more >> grandsballets.com/en/dance_therapy

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