Ballet Ouest

Ballet Ouest de Montréal was founded in 1984 by its artistic director Margaret Mehuys. Her creative choreography has entertained and educated Montreal audiences for over 15 years. With passion, love and rigorous standards she has trained several generations of rising young dancers and seasoned professionals, carving out a unique niche in the dance world. Ballet Ouest combines high quality dance performance, creative choreography and committed con-tributions from a vast array of volunteers.

The company’s first performance of The Nutcracker in 1984 was made possible by the generous support of a group of families. From these beginnings, Ballet Ouest established the goals by which it is still guided: to contribute to the promotion of classical dance and the artists who lend their vitality to this artistic discipline. The company focuses on creating, producing and performing new ballets, mounting and presenting updated versions of ballets from the classical repertoire, and inviting outside choreographers to create original works from which a contemporary dance language can be constructed.

Ballet Ouest is also committed to introducing dance to young audiences. It does this by holding school matinee performances, lecture/demonstrations and interactive presentations. The company has worked to acquaint young people with all aspects of mounting a classical dance performance, both behind the scenes and before the footlights. Each year Quebec school children are exposed to both the theory and practice of classical dance.

American-born choreographer Margaret Mehuys, with many years of experience as a professional dancer, has directed the company from the start. Among her many accomplishments she has staged nine choreographic works for Ballet Ouest and helped nurture the emerging talent of many dancers, as well as the hundreds involved in yearly presentations of The Nutcracker. Former Ballet Ouest dancers have gone on to train at the École supérieure de danse du Québec, the National Ballet School of Canada, or to appear with local dance companies such as Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, l’Alberta Ballet and Les Ballets jazz de Montréal, as well as with companies in Europe and the United States.

There have been many outstanding performances over the years. Giselle d'ici, the modern story of a teenage suicide, is largely inspired by the romantic ballet Giselle. Ballet Ouest has also presented Coppelia and The Sleeping Beauty, in their original versions. The company's well-loved version of The Nutcracker has been interpreted by more than 1,000 children and 500 dancers over the past 18 years, and has enthralled over 75,000 spectators.

With an eye on emerging trends in classical dance, Margaret Mehuys has invited choreographers exploring new horizons to help create ballets for Ballet Ouest. The company has pre-sented among others Child's Play, a piece for several dancers by American Lucinda Hughey, Cantus, a pas de deux by internationally renowned Canadian choreographer Jean Grand-Maître, and Symphonie classique by French choreographer Renaud Doucet, formerly of Ballet de Monte Carlo and the Opéra de Montréal.

Truly a unique company, Ballet Ouest has performed in Montreal and other cities in Quebec. It has also performed in Costa Rica, where, for the last two years, it has been working to create a professional classical company and to train dancers. In 2000 and 2002, the company performed The Nutcracker, receiving an outstanding response from the Costa Rican public. It has been invited to return in 2003 with Coppelia.

In 2002, Ballet Ouest acquired Ballet Mobile, a repertoire of truly exceptional dance theatre for children. Created in 1989 by Gilles Tanguay and Julie Lambert, over 350 000 children in the United States and Quebec have been delighted by these works. Continuing its mission, Ballet Ouest will develop opportunities to perform these works in schools and theatres here and abroad.

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