Sylvain Émard

OPCT. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22.
25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 2011 – 8 p.m.

“As a choreographer, Émard never disappoints. (…) Whether another collection of exquisite miniatures, or something different, his choreography will always radiate humanity at every turn.”  (paulacitron.ca, Toronto)

Robert Lepage’s artistic collaborator for the Lorin Maazel opera 1984 (which premiered at Covent Garden in London in 2005 and was remounted at La Scala in Milan in 2008), Sylvain Émard cultivates a “highly physical and intense choreographic style” (Toronto Classical 96.3 FM). A strong presence on North American and European stages for the past two decades, Sylvain Émard will be presenting Fragments – Volume I, a captivating collage of short pieces (solos and a duo) that was very warmly received at the Canada Dance Festival in June 2010.


The first part of a diptych that began in 2009, Fragments is a two-part choreographic cycle. These two distinct programs of miniatures feature different colours, atmospheres and energies, while bringing out the individuality of the performers. For Fragments – Volume I, Sylvain Émard was inspired to a large extent by the personalities of the four performers, four muses for whom he created pieces reflecting their concerns. Underpinning the diversity of their personalities and the tableaux themselves is the refined, eloquent movement that dominates the overall structure.

Fragments - Volume  I, Monique Miller  

photo © Robert Etcheverry, Dancer: Monique Miller


Sylvain Émard provides the audience with the pleasure of seeing the actress Monique Miller in a new role. A great lady of the theatre and a stage virtuoso, she slips into dance with surprising ease and vulnerability. Her minimalist gestures contrast with the intensity and vigour of choreography made to measure for Laurence Ramsay, Manuel Roque and Catherine Viau, three excellent dancers who command the stage magnificently.

“Roque, Viau and Ramsay have a suppleness or grace that goes well with Émard’s fluid choreography. He is such an organic dancesmith that each movement pattern seems to grow logically out of the one before. His work is of the whole cloth and that is why he is a great choreographer.” (paulacitron.ca, Toronto)

The music of Fragments – Volume I is by the Quebec composer Michel F. Côté and the German composer Jan Jelinek. Lighting is by André Rioux, set design by Richard Lacroix, and costumes are by Denis Lavoie. The première of Volume II is scheduled for 2012.

Sylvain Émard, Choreographer and Artistic Director

Renowned for his complex and elegant choreography, Sylvain Émard favours an approach that uses the kinaesthetic power of dance to highlight the inherent intelligence of the body. He received the Jacqueline Lemieux Award from the Canada Council for the Arts in 1990, and in 1996 the prestigious Jean A. Chalmers Award for the body of his work.

“An uncompromising choreographer (…) A tautly designed set of unfailing beauty. (…) Sylvain Émard has taken a dive into the troubled waters of human relationships and succeeded brilliantly.” (Radio-Canada review of Temps de chien, Montreal)

Sylvain Émard  

photo © Angelo Barsetti


After a career as a dancer working with choreographers such as Jean-Pierre Perreault, Jo Lechay and Louise Bédard, Sylvain Émard turned to choreography and in 1987 founded Sylvain Émard Danse. The company has produced some twenty works that have been presented in Canada and abroad.

Sylvain Émard concentrated initially on solo pieces, notably Ozone, Ozone and L’Imposture des sens (1989), which were invited to Europe as part of the Danséchange Montreal-Brussels. These were followed by choreographies such as De l’Éden au Septentrion (1990) and Retour d’exil (1991), presented at the Festival international de nouvelle danse in Montreal.

With Terrains Vagues (1993), a piece for three men and a woman, he began to move away from the theatrical approach of his early works, opting for a dance more formal in tone, dance that made full use of the performance space. Terrains Vagues was presented in Montreal, Glasgow and in Ottawa at the Dance Canada Festival, and went on to tour the Maritimes and Western Canada.

He returned to the solo form in 1994 with Des siècles avec vous, a piece inspired by the self-portraits of Rembrandt and Francis Bacon. The piece was acclaimed by critics and audiences alike, and Émard was named dance personality of the year by the Montreal weekly VOIR.

His next piece, a 1996 quintet for male dancers entitled Rumeurs (co-produced by the Canada Dance Festival) enjoyed tremendous success. That same year Sylvain Émard Danse was the recipient of the dance prize awarded by the Conseil des Arts de la Communauté urbaine de Montréal.

His next choreography was Mensonge Variations (1998), a piece for six dancers that toured Quebec and was then performed in Paris as part of the Printemps du Québec event. He returned to the stage in 2000 with Te souvient-il? Co-created with his long-time collaborator the choreographer Louise Bédard, and with set design by Pierre Bruneau, Te souvient-il? was presented across Quebec and Canada, and also in Mexico and France.

In 2001 Scènes d’intérieur made its début. It benefited from several creative residencies in Quebec and France. The company’s first  international co-production (Sylvain Émard Danse, Studio de l’Agora de la danse de Montréal, Centre culturel Aragon in France), Scènes d’intérieur marked the first time that video was an important element of the set design. It was presented in twenty cities in Canada, France and Great Britain.

In 2004 Sylvain Émard began his Climatologie des corps trilogy, which uses climate as a metaphor for everything that affects our lives. The first was Pluie (2004), followed by Temps de chien (2005) – which toured Europe in April 2007 – and  Wave, presented at the Zeeland Nazomerfestival in Holland in 2008. Wave was then featured at the internationale tanzmessse nrw in Düsseldorf, and went on to tour Holland in August and September 2008. The North American première of Wave took place at Usine C in Montreal in September 2008. The piece was performed in Wales in 2009, and then in Quebec, across Canada and in France in 2010. The full Climatologie des corps trilogy was also at the renowned New Territories festival in Glasgow, where it met with great success.

“Everything about Emard’s work (…) has an intensely poetic feel to it. (…) These pieces (Temps de chien and Wave) are profound excursions into how we inhabit our skins, our relationships, our environment. Plenty of choreographers set out with ground-breaking artistic ambitions: Émard has the intellect and creative ability to see his through.” (The Herald, Glasgow)

In 2009 Sylvain Émard embarked on the Grand Continental project for the Festival TransAmériques. A thrilling combination of line dancing and contemporary dance, with sixty amateur dancers performing outdoors on Émery Street in Montreal, this eclectic, festive celebration attracted some 6000 spectators for three performances. By popular request the piece returned to the Festival TransAmériques in 2010, in an even more ambitious version, with 120 amateur dancers presenting Le Très Grand Continental at Place Émilie-Gamelin. The Grand Continental adventure will continue in 2011 with a Mexican version of this captivating show. Inspired by popular Mexican dance forms, El Grand Continental will be presented at Festival de México in March. From May 26 to 29, Continental XL will be at the Festival TransAmériques, with 200 amateur dancers aged 12 to 72 taking the Place des Festivals by storm in an all-new choreography.

A talented artist and gifted choreographer, Sylvain Émard often works as a guest choreographer in theatre, opera and film. In 2004, Robert Lepage invited Sylvain Émard to do the choreography for Lorin Maazel’s opera 1984, which premiered at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London. In May 2008, Sylvain Émard directed a reprise of this large-scale opera at the legendary La Scala in Milan, and directed it again in February 2011, at the Queen Sofia Palace of the Arts in Valencia, Spain. Commissioned by the Dutch dance centre Station Zuid, in 2007 he created a piece for seven dancers, 7 by 2, presented at an international festival in Holland. It went on to tour the Netherlands in August and September 2007.

Very committed to the local arts community, Sylvain Émard is vice-president and a founding member of the Circuit-Est centre chorégraphique dance space and sits on the board of a number of organizations and consulting committees. From 1992 to 1994, he was chairman of the board of the Regroupement québécois de la danse, and the organization’s vice-president from 2000 to 2002. In 2003, he was named a member of the sponsorship committee for the Grand Théâtre in Lorient, France, and from 2000 to 2006, he was a member of the board of directors for the Governor General Awards for the Performing Arts.

Lenght 1 h

Choreography Sylvain Émard • Dancers Monique Miller, Laurence Ramsay, Manuel Roque, Catherine Viau •Original scores Michel F. Côté, Jan Jelinek • Artistic consultant Ginelle Chagnon • Lighting André Rioux • Set design Richard Lacroix • Costumes Denis Lavoie • Makeup and hair Angelo Barsetti • Production Director  Judith Allen • Technical Director Dave Bourdages • Stage Manager Judith Allen.

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