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Out & About

October 13, 2011

Season in full swing with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens performances

MONTREAL — World premieres, classic works and a renowned visiting dance troupe mark a lively season presented by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens.

Opening the season, sculptures come to life in the premiere of "Rodin/Claudel." The ballet marks the first full-length North American work for Canadian choreographer Peter Quanz, whose inspiration stemmed from a visit to a Paris museum a decade ago.

"When I was 19, I visited the Rodin Museum and I learned about the incredible story between Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel," Quanz said.

The visit led to research and a viewing of the 1988 French film "Camille Claudel," starring Isabelle Adjani.

"The emotional scope of that film was so epic that I immediately shelved the idea," Quanz said. "It was just too much for a 19-year-old brain."

Fast forward a decade later, Les Grands Ballets artistic director Gradimir Pankov was on the search for a new ballet. Quanz had previously choreographed "Kaleidoscope," a shorter work for Les Grands Ballets in 2008. He soon proposed "Rodin/Claudel."

"It was a French story with a powerful narrative," Quanz said. "This seemed like the perfect fit for Montreal."

PAIRING SCULPTURE, DANCE

Quanz got his green light, and the ballet debuts at 8 tonight. The narrative looks at the love affair between Rodin, the famous French sculptor, and Claudel, a sculptor in her own right 20 years his junior.

"She had a phenomenal talent as a sculptor," Quanz said. "But at that time (the mid-1880s), there was no possibility for a female sculptor to have a career."

Claudel actually hired Rodin as her tutor, Quanz said. Eventually Rodin hired her to work in his studio.

"She often worked on hands, on feet, on hair," Quanz said. "She worked on finishing very prominent parts of his sculptures. It's often debated on how much of his work comes from her ideas."

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