Montreal is a city with a rich dance performance scene. Before you launch into the creation and presentation of your own work, it can be helpful to have a sense of what is already happening here. In this section you will find an overview of creators, presenters, and other local resources.
Dance in Montreal is created on a variety of scales, by both dance companies and independent choreographers.
There are a handful of large, internationally touring companies in Montreal, including Compagnie Marie Chouinard, bjm, and Les Grands Ballet Canadiens de Montréal. These companies hire dancers as salaried employees, have a large administrative staff, and operate with annual budgets that reach into the millions.
Montréal is also host to a growing number of mid-sized companies ranging anywhere from five to twenty years old. These include, amongst others, Daniel Léveillé Danse, Par B.L.eux (Benoît Lachambre), Flak (José Navas), Nyata Nyata (Zab Maboungou),Sinha Danse (Roger Sinha), Carré des Lombes (Danièle Desnoyers), MAYDAY (Mélanie Demers), and RUBBERBANDance Group. Cas Public (Hélène Blackburn) and Bouge-de-là (Hélène Langevin) are two well known companies which focus on performance for young audiences. Many mid-sized companies have some full or part time administrative staff. However the dancers that work with these companies are self-employed, and work on a contract-to-contract basis.
Dance companies in Montreal are incorporated as non-profit organizations (OBNL) with a Board of Directors. Choreographers that do not have a company structure are considered “independent”. Almost all emerging choreographers begin as independents, and many mid-career and established artists choose to remain so. Examples include George Stamos, Andrew Tay, and Maria Kefirova. While incorporating as a company gives a choreographer access to certain funding opportunities, it also involves a lot of extra administrative work. Most emerging choreographers do not need to incorporate, and some artists never feel the need to.
Recently, some companies have begun to integrate independent artists under their name, providing these younger artists with administrative and production support. Examples include Clara Furey and Dana Michel with Par B.L.eux, or Stephane Gladyszewski and Ellen Furey with Daniel Léveillé Danse. Alternatively, certain independent choreographers have joined together to share one company structure as with Je suis Julio (Ariane Boulet, Catherine Lavoie Marcus, Dorian Nuskind-Oder and Nate Yaffe) or Lorganisme (Caroline Laurin-Baucage, Amelie Rajotte, Catherine Gaudet and Anne Theriault). These new models have developed predominantly out of a desire for mentorship, peer-to-peer support, and the pooling of administrative resources.
Tip: If you are looking get to know the names and faces of Montreal dance artists, the memberships listings available on the RQD website are a good place to start.
Presenters can be divided into two general categories: those offering a regular season (usually September- May) and festivals (occurring annually at the same time each year).
Among the season-based dance-focused presenters, Danse Danse/Productions Loma offers a program of national and international productions in venues such as Théâtre Maisonneuve and Cinquième Salle at Place des Arts. Just across the plaza, the Wilder Building houses two presenters: Agora de la danse presents predominantly local mid-sized companies and choreographers, while Tangente is an important presenter of emerging artists. Danse-Cité offers a variety of dance productions initiated by choreographers, dancers or musicians. Studio 303 is a center for interdisciplinary creation and dissemination, presenting short works often linked to a theme.
Other theatres which regularly include dance productions in their programming are Usine C, Théâtre La Chapelle Scènes Contemporaines, and the MAI (Montréal – arts interculturels).
The Maisons de la culture network is a unique aspect of Montreal’s cultural scene. These theatres, which are usually attached to libraries, can be found in many neighborhoods. They present a diverse range of performances free of charge. La Maison de la culture Plateau Mont-Royal, la Maison de la culture Frontenac, Maison de la culture Claude Leveillé and the Centre Culturel NDG in particular present a lot of dance.
There are also DIY presenters who organize one-off projects and recurring events. Many present a range of artists of different experience levels and disciplines. Examples include “Piss in the Pool” and “Short & Sweet”, both organized by Wants&Needs Danse as well as the event “So You Think That Was Dance” which occurs periodically at the Mainline Theatre. Every year, new and alternative events blossom in the Montreal scene. Their programming is sometimes shared through callouts and applications, but most often through word of mouth and social media.
Held yearly over two weeks during late-May/early-June, Festival TransAmériques (FTA) is international in scope and programs both dance and theatre works. The OFFTA, held at the same time every year as the FTA, programs dance, theatre and interdisciplinary work. Festivals such as Quartiers Danses, ZH, Vue sur la Relève, and Festival Phénomena can also be springboards for emerging artists. 100lux organizes an annual festival for urban dance choreography for the stage, and BIGICO organizes a biannual festival of contemporary gigue. Finally, the festival Bouge d’ici and the Montreal Fringe Festival are two more important points of entry for many young creators.
Tip: Both the RQD and La danse sur les routes du Quebec maintain comprehensive calendars of Montreal’s dance performances.
Tip: Going to see performances is an important way to integrate into the Montreal dance world. It will help you to understand what kind of work is being made here, and you will run into many members of the dance community before and after shows. While the price of tickets can add up quickly, many presenters offer free admission to volunteers who help with ushering, or in the office. Check presenters’ websites for call outs, or e-mail directly to inquire about volunteer opportunities.
Montreal is home to two major performing arts trade fairs, where presenters come together to shop for shows. CINARS is a massive international event that occurs biannually on even numbered years. Parcours Danse is a similar, but smaller event that occurs biannually on odd-numbered years. For both of these meetings, artists must apply to present their work and if selected, pay a fee to participate. These events are mainly useful for experienced artists and companies that are ready to tour an evening-length program. However, younger artists can also participate as a way to learn more about the touring market and meet presenters.
For those just starting out, more accessible networking events are regularly offered by organizations such as Circuit-Est, La Serre – arts vivants, Festival Vue sur la releve and Studio 303. For example, Studio 303 hosts À Table, a reoccurring event dedicated to facilitating friendly informal conversations between artists and presenters.
Tip: CINARS and Parcours Danse both have call outs for volunteers. Volunteering during these events provides free access and a chance to observe firsthand how these fairs work.
There are many organizations in Montréal whose primary or secondary goal is to provide support services for dance artists. These organizations will be invaluable resources throughout your professional career in Montréal. They can be divided into three basic categories:
There are professional associations, which have specific criteria for membership and generally charge an annual membership fee. For dance artists, the Regroupement québecois de la danse (RQD) offers a multitude of services, including technique classes, training subsidies, and professional development workshops. The Dancer Transition Resource Centre (DTRC) exists to help dancers make necessary transitions into, within and from professional performing careers. La danse sur les routes du Québec showcases the work of Quebec-based artists, while helping to connect them to regional presenters. They offer professional development workshops, an online catalogue of works available for touring, and organize the biannual event Parcours Danse. For those whose artistic practice borders on other disciplines, there is the Québec Interdisciplinary Arts Network (RAIQ). The English Language Arts Network (ELAN) helps Québec’s anglophone artists connect with one another and to the services available to them (workshops, grants, etc.).
Other organizations provide specialized administrative support services to dance artists for a fee. Diagramme Gestion culturelle, and Bureau de Prod. offer assistance to independent choreographers for an hourly fee. Services include grant preparation, bookkeeping, communications and other types of administrative work. La Machinerie is a matchmaker between artists and experts (technical assistance, communications, administration etc.), and also provides an exhaustive tool box of templates, and organizational tools for various administrative tasks.
Finally there are service organizations that are not specifically arts focused, but can be useful to young artists. Youth Employment Services (YES) is a non-profit community organization that delivers English-language job search and self-employment services to Quebecers. Recognizing the large amount of young artists in Montréal, they have developed a series of services for artists such as career counseling, business coaching and a start-up grant contest. The network Carrefours jeunesse-emploi (RCJEQ) offers similar services in French. Les offices jeunesse internationaux du Québec (LOJIQ) offers travel grants as well as internship opportunities abroad.
Montréal is host to two university dance programs, as well as many other professional training programs. The Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM) offers an interdisciplinary PhD, a master’s degree, and a somatic education diploma, as well as two streams at the bachelor level (teaching and interpretation) with a focus on creation if desired. Concordia University’s bachelor program emphasizes creative process and choreography, and their interdisciplinary MA may also be of interest to choreographers.
For non-university intensive training, the following schools have well reputed training programs: for contemporary dance there is the École de danse contemporaine de Montreal (EDCM), and for ballet there is the École supérieure de ballet du Québec. Each offers a college diploma (DEC or AEC) and/or high school study programs. Collège Montmorency, CEGEP St-Laurent and Collège de Maisonneuve offer a two-year DEC specializing in dance, and Compagnie Nyata Nyata now offers a two-year professional training program in African dance and drumming. Stephanie Decourteille is an independent teacher who offers a structured training program in contemporary dance.
Several dance spaces in the city regularly offer dance training and workshops for professionals. The RQD organizes a thirty-week session of morning contemporary dance classes taught by a variety of both local and non-local professionals. Circuit-Est and Studio 303 also offer a range of workshops covering various dance techniques and somatic practices, as well as creative process. Danse à la carte offers professional level ballet and contemporary dance classes. 100lux maintains listings of on-going urban dance classes throughout the city. Other classes are found in private centers such as Studio Bizz or L’Espace du Mouvement.
Dance training during the summer months is less consistent, but there are still some options. The summer intensive programs of TransFormation Danse, Springboard Danse Montréal and the EDCMTL take place annually, while other companies (such as Lorganisme) and choreographers offer summer intensives more occasionally. Since 2014, the collective Nous Sommes L’Été offers classes, workshops, and space for research and creation during the summertime.
Tip: In addition to strengthening and expanding your skills, attending professional classes and workshops is a great way to meet other local dance artists.
There are a number of studio rental locations in the city, and many schools, presenters, institutions (like Conseil des arts de Montréal), companies and independent choreographers have a space to rent, usually by the hour. Prices tend to range from $12-$18 per hour.
Tip : Listings for private studios with rentals can be found on the RQD website.
Many organizations with studios offer residencies, either by invitation or through an open call. A residency typically offers free rehearsal space for a fixed amount of time for an artist to work on a specific project. Some residencies also offer additional support, like an artist stipend, access to technical equipment, or a budget to hire an artistic mentor. Residencies are useful not only for the space they provide; they are also a way to build a relationship with an institution and provide visibility for your work. Securing support in the form of residencies can also help with funding applications, or when approaching presenters.
Tip: Consult our directory for a list of residency opportunities.