Alberta Ballet, under the direction of Artistic Director Jean Grand-Maître, connects audiences with dance that excites and inspires. Founded in Edmonton in 1966 by Ruth Carse and Muriel Taylor, the company today reaches thousands of Albertans over the course of its September to May season and has toured across Canada and internationally. Through the originality of its programming and the talent of its 30 classically-trained dancers, Alberta Ballet has earned a passionate following in its twin home cities, Calgary and Edmonton, and abroad.
Jean Grand-Maître is widely recognized as among the most successful Canadian choreographers and artistic directors of his generation.
Born in Hull, Québec, Grand‑Maître began his dance training at York University in Toronto and continued at Montreal’s École Supérieure de Dance du Québec. He later danced with Ballet British Columbia and Theatre Ballet of Canada.
Since joining Alberta Ballet in 2002, he has elevated the profile of the organization to a global position. Under his tenure, Alberta Ballet caught the world’s attention for its “portrait ballets” – collaborations with popular music icons including Joni Mitchell, Sir Elton John, Sarah McLachlan, k.d. lang, Gordon Lightfoot, and The Tragically Hip.
Prior to Alberta Ballet, he worked internationally as an independent choreographer and has created new works for many of the world’s most prestigious ballet companies such as the Opéra National de Paris, the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the Stuttgart Ballet, the Norwegian National Ballet, the Bavarian State Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Ballet British Columbia, the National Ballet of Cuba, Ballet Jörgen, and the Hartford Ballet.
In 2010, he was Director of Choreography for the Opening Ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. In 2017, he was part of a landmark commission by the National Arts Centre (NAC). The production, entitled Encount3rs, celebrated Canada’s sesquicentennial by pairing three of Canada’s most notable choreographers with three of Canada’s brightest composers.
Alberta Ballet’s dancers, whether on stage, film or television, have become renowned for their technical virtuosity, versatility, and ability to communicate with audiences across Canada and abroad.
He has made ballet relevant to Albertans and has played an instrumental role in showing a different side of their culture to the world. By his judicious selection of dancers and strategic development of the repertoire, Grand-Maître has enabled Alberta Ballet to become a company capable of performing everything from the most avant-garde contemporary works to the most demanding classical masterpieces.
During his tenure he has curated more than 80 different programs, highlighted by a growing presence of 20th- and 21st-century dance makers. All were created or revived for the Alberta Ballet by more than 35 highly established and/or emerging choreographers mainly from Canada.
Joni Mitchell’s songs are the most sublime paintings of the inner-landscapes of the human spirit ever created. They are an unprecedented marriage of intimacy and universality, creating a sound that is incomparable, yet relatable to all. She is a trailblazer, a wanderer, and a searcher who continuously explored new territory and invited the world to join her on her journey of discovery.
With nine GRAMMY® awards to her name and 16 GRAMMY nominations, Mitchell’s catalogue of music spans more than five decades. In 2017, Mitchell’s 1971 album Blue was named number one on National Public Radio’s list of the 150 greatest albums made by women. Her work has no boundaries and crosses genres from folk and pop, to jazz and world music. Mitchell is also a prolific painter and was once quoted as saying, “I’m a painter first, and a musician second.” While Mitchell hails from Fort McLeod, Alberta, and grew up in Saskatchewan, she has called Los Angeles and British Columbia her two homes for decades.
Joni Mitchell’s songs create sublime landscapes of the human mind. Her view is that of the bird and of the surgeon. There is an unprecedented marriage of intimacy and universality that permeates all of her work. Her art compares to no other, but relates to all of us. A pioneer and builder of her very own tower of song, Joni is a wanderer and a searcher, someone who does not rest but always moves forward, exploring new territory and inviting her audiences to journey into unknown territory with her.
With her guitar and inimitable voice, Mitchell has produced a series of albums unmatched by any songwriter, including Blue, Ladies of the Canyon, The Hissing of Summer Lawns, Hejira, Mingus, and Travelogue.
Rolling Stone has called her “one of the greatest songwriters ever,” and AllMusic has stated, “When the dust settles, Joni Mitchell may stand as the most important and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century.”
– Text by Jörn Weinsbrodt
Christopher Anderson joined Alberta Ballet after retiring from a lengthy and successful career with both Boston Ballet and Ballet West. With a professional career that spanned 16 years, he built an extensive repertoire of both classical and contemporary work. He danced leading roles nationally and internationally, including several roles created for him by some of today’s most exciting choreographers. While dancing with Ballet West, he also had the opportunity to create his own work for the company, having a total of three works commissioned. He joined Alberta Ballet in 2015 as Associate Artistic Director and has added two new full-length ballets to the company’s repertoire: Cinderella which premiered in March 2018 and The Sleeping Beauty which premiered in October 2018.
Born in Montreal, Québec, Robert Ivison has worked as a film editor in Los Angeles since 1994. He has cut music videos for a number of artists, including U2, Eric Clapton, Celine Dion, and Whitney Houston. His feature film credits include Stander, Walking Tall, and Trick ‘r Treat, and his television credits include Suits, The Last Tycoon, and The Rookie. Robert worked with Joni Mitchell to collect and edit the projection elements for The Fiddle and The Drum on a laptop computer at Joni’s house in Los Angeles. There was much talk, tea and Thai food along the way.
Pamela received her B.A. in Theatre Arts from California State University at Los Angeles while constructing costumes part-time in the theatre department. In Calgary, she worked as the costume designer for Stephen Hair, artistic director for Pleiades Theatre, for five years. As Head of Wardrobe and Touring Wardrobe Mistress for Alberta Ballet, Pamela had the opportunity to design costumes, including for Joni Mitchell’s The Fiddle and The Drum. After 16 years with Alberta Ballet, she retired except for the occasional backstage gig. Pamela hopes that the Alberta Ballet dancers have a great run with Joni Mitchell’s The Fiddle and The Drum.
Pierre Lavoie has been active in dance since 1982, first in Toronto as stage manager for most of the city’s modern dance companies, then in Montréal for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. There he had the great opportunity to work closely with his mentor, lighting designer Nick Cernovitch. Lavoie started designing lighting in the 1990s for Margie Gillis and has since designed every new work in her repertoire. He also created lights for many independent modern dance artists in Montréal. Lavoie’s versatility is evident in how easily he can sustain both modern and classical vocabulary. He has designed to rave reviews at Alberta Ballet where he is resident lighting designer. Lavoie has also designed works for Shumka Dancers, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Ballet BC, Boston Ballet and many others. For opera, Lavoie designed at Pacific Opera Victoria, Opera New Brunswick, Opéra de Québec and Tapestry Singers.
Christiana Bennett is in her third season working as part of Alberta Ballet’s artistic team. Previous to her position as Ballet Mistress at Alberta Ballet, she was a Principal with Ballet West for 16 years. While dancing with Ballet West, Bennett was given the opportunity to dance throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia where she was met with international acclaim. As a native of Massachusetts, most of her training was along the Eastern seaboard at prestigious schools. However, she attributes her career to the training received at Pacific Northwest Ballet School under the tutelage of Francia Russell.
Allendale, NJ | First season
Kira began her training at Kozlov Dance Academy, and trained at Irene Folkine School of Dance, Petrov Ballet, and Manhattan Youth Ballet. In 2008 she participated in the Youth America Grand Prix and was awarded a scholarship to the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre. Most recently, Kira was with BalletMet in Columbus, Ohio.
Santa Fe, NM | Seventh season
Eli Barnes began ballet training at the age of 15. He trained with Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle and Cincinnati Ballet. In his previous six seasons with Alberta Ballet he has danced Roman in All of Us, Tweedledee in Alice in Wonderland, and the Pink Couple in Forgotten Land.
Houston, TX | Second season
Brittany Broussard recently graduated from école de l’Alberta Ballet and has since performed with Alberta Ballet in several performances, including Dracula and Our Canada. She represented Canada in the Cecchetti International Ballet Competition in Florence, Italy, this past summer and previously trained with Next Generation Ballet in Tampa and Vitacca Dance Project with Phillip Broomhead.
Oakland, MD | Fourth season
John Canfield received his early training at local Virginia studios, moving on to train with The Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts and The Richmond Ballet School before coming to Canada where he attended the National Ballet School in Toronto. In 2015, John was recognized with Canada Council's Peter Dwyer Award for the Arts.
Beijing, China / Chine | Second season
Zhenghong (Jason) Cao began ballet training at the Secondary School of Beijing Dance Academy at the age of 10. He attended both Canada’s National Ballet School and the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre. Prior to this first season with Alberta Ballet, Jason danced with Washington Ballet Studio Company.
Montréal, QC | Third season
Gabrielle Chenard is a graduate of l’École supérieure de ballet du Québec. She has attended several intensives, including Canada’s National Ballet School and Art of Forsythe workshop in Berlin, Germany. Gabrielle also danced with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens’ professional corps de ballet in their annual production of The Nutcracker.
Calgary, AB | Fourth season
Tanya Chumak trained at Alberta Ballet School, where she completed her Advanced 2 Cecchetti Exam and was selected to compete in the Cecchetti International Classical Ballet Competition. She danced with New York Theatre Ballet in New York City before returning to Calgary where she is happy to be dancing in her hometown.
Taree, Australia / Australie | Second season
Zacharie received his early training in his hometown of Taree, NSW. He trained with the Australian Ballet School and National College of Dance before moving to Brisbane to accept a scholarship with Queensland Ballet’s Pre-Professional Program. Zacharie later joined the Queensland Ballet before being promoted into Queensland Ballet’s prestigious Jette Parker Young Artist Program.
Huntington Beach, CA | Third season
Melissa Eguchi began training at the age of three at California’s Huntington Academy of Dance under the direction of Marnell Himes-Ushijima, and has been privately coached by artist Jayne Persch. She furthered her training at the School of Alberta Ballet. She has received numerous scholarships and was winner of the CICB Audience Choice Award 2014.
Calgary, AB | Tenth season
Alexandra Gibson was born in Toronto and moved to Calgary where she trained at the Alberta Ballet school. This is Alexandra’s tenth season with the company. She has performed the role of Myrtha in Giselle, the Sugar Plum Fairy and Klara in The Nutcracker, the Lover in Balletlujah!, and Fairy Godmother in Cinderella.
Calgary, AB | Tenth season
Born in Toronto, Jennifer Gibson moved to Calgary with her family and received 12 years of training at the Alberta Ballet school. Now in her tenth year there, she has performed a variety of roles, including Cinderella in last season’s world premiere of Cinderella, and as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Klara in The Nutcracker.
Edmonton, AB | Ninth season
Garrett Groat trained at Edmonton’s Dance Unlimited in various styles, and at 17 was awarded a scholarship to the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre. His favourite roles with Alberta Ballet include Puss in Boots in The Sleeping Beauty, The Elton Fan in Love Lies Bleeding, and Escamillo in Yukichi Hattori’s Carmen.
Havana, Cuba | Ninth season
Hayna Gutierrez trained at the Cuban National Ballet School and was a principal dancer with the Ballet National de Cuba. She has been a guest principal dancer in multiples countries around the world. In 2013, she won the Miami Life Award for Best Hispanic Female Dancer.
Akron, OH | First season
Scotto Hamed-Ramos began his ballet training at Nan Klinger’s Excellence in Dance Studio at the age of four, and continued training with Houston Ballet Academy. He joined the Houston Ballet second company (HBII) in 2018. Scotto received The Royal Ballet Achievement Award for two consecutive years with The Royal Ballet School, Covent Garden.
Fukuoka, Japan | Fourth season
Seira Iwamoto received her training at Fukuoka City Kawazoe Ballet Academy, école de l’Alberta Ballet, and The Dutch National Ballet Academy. In 2013–2014, she performed with the Dutch National Ballet in Sir Peter Wright’s Sleeping Beauty, as well as in the live stream project in Assemblée Internationale.
Hiroshima, Japan | Twelfth season
Mariko Kondo trained at Canada’s National Ballet School and danced professionally with Leipzig Ballet in Germany and Opera Atelier in Toronto before joining Alberta Ballet. Mariko’s repertoire includes Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Desdemona in Othello, the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, and Giselle in Giselle.
Harbin, China | Third season
Lang (Alan) Ma trained at the LiaoNing Ballet of China Academy and continued in Vancouver at the Goh Ballet Academy before joining the Washington School of Ballet. Alan has won numerous prestigious awards, including a Gold Medal in the 2014 World Ballet Competition and the 2012 China Tao Li Bei Competition First Place.
Edmonton, AB | Seventeenth season
Kelley trained with Dance Alberta and The Banff Centre, subsequently performing with DanceArts Vancouver, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, and The Banff Centre’s Festival of Dance. In 2015, he was Guest Principal Artist in David Nixon’s Madame Butterfly with the Northern Ballet in the UK.
Eatonville, WA | Eleventh season
Reilley trained at Pacific Northwest Ballet School and Canada’s National Ballet School. Since joining Alberta Ballet, her favourite pieces to dance include Jean Grand-Maître’s Winter Room, Wen Wei Wang’s Futureland, and the roles of Queen Anne in David Nixon’s The Three Musketeers, and Tourvel in Jean Grand-Maître’s Dangerous Liaisons.
Chiba, Japan | Second season
Sayuri Nakanii started training at age eight at Tanaka Ballet Studio, eventually moving to Canada in 2015 to begin training at Alberta Ballet School. Sayuri has danced in Alberta Ballet’s productions of Dracula, The Nutcracker, Alice in Wonderland, Dangerous Liaisons, Cinderella, and All of Us.
Bellevue, WA | Second season
Kuu Sakuragi started his training at the Pacific Northwest Ballet School where he danced on full scholarship for 10 years. He has attended numerous summer programs, including Canada's National Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, and San Francisco Ballet. In 2016, Kuu received an award from the National Young Arts.
Niigata, Japan | Third season
Yoshiya Sakurai began training with Niigata Ballet School and later with the Royal Ballet School, John Cranko Ballet School, and Canada’s National Ballet School. He has performed several lead and soloist roles including Benno in Swan Lake, Peasant Pas de Deux in Giselle, Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Porthos in The Three Musketeers.
Kanagawa, Japan | Sixth season
Luna Sasaki received a full scholarship to the Houston Ballet Academy at 16 and continued her training at Boston Ballet. Her favourite roles include Juliet in Romeo & Juliet and Alice in Alice in Wonderland. She has also performed Svetlana in Ben Stevenson’s Dracula, and “She” in Jean Grand-Maître’s Balletlujah!.
Dallas, TX | First season
William Sheriff Jr. began his formal ballet training at 14. He attended Texas Christian University’s School for Classical and Contemporary Dance before moving to Seattle and graduating from the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Professional Division. His favourite roles include George Balanchine’s Diamonds, Stanton Welch’s Waltz of the Flowers, and Splendid Gershwin.
Lewisberry, PA | Sixth season
Heather Thomas began dancing with Pennsylvania Regional Ballet before moving to Toronto and graduating from Canada's National Ballet School. She has trained and worked with the Joffrey Academy of Dance in Chicago, Cincinnati Ballet, and BalletMet Columbus. Her favourite performances with Alberta Ballet include Ben Stevenson’s Dracula and Christopher Anderson’s Cinderella.
Calgary, AB | Seventh season
Laura trained in Calgary and in 2010 was a recipient of the RAD Solo Seal Award. She has furthered her studies training at the Alberta Ballet School, The Banff Centre and Arts Umbrella. Her most memorable performances with Alberta Ballet include Swan Lake, Forgotten Land, Happy Little Things (Waiting On a Gruff Cloud Of Wanting), and Futureland.
Seattle, WA | Supplementary dancer
Mayim Stiller began his formal training at Oregon Ballet Academy. Then went on to train with Pacific Northwest Ballet and the School of American Ballet. Stiller began his professional career with Los Angeles Ballet. In 2016, he joined Ballet San Antonio as a Corps de Ballet member and was promoted to soloist in 2017. He has performed a variety of soloist roles some of his favorites include Albrecht (Giselle), The Beast (Beauty and the Beast) and principal Round of Angels. Additionally, he has choreographed two original works that debuted at the 2017 and 2018 season’s Encore program.