BJM – Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal returns to the NAC with a triumphant triple-bill on March 21-22

Internationally-renowned company BJM – Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal  returns to the NAC in the midst of celebrating its milestone 40th anniversary season. Under the artistic direction of Louis Robitaille, the troupe presents a mixed bill of contemporary works from three contemporary choreographers: Closer by France’s Benjamin Millepied; Night Box by Chinese-Canadian Wen Wei Wang; and Harry by Israeli-American Barak Marshall. Each dance maker brings a distinctive vocabulary to the program, showcasing the extreme physicality and depth of emotion evoked by the exquisite dancers. BJM performs in the Theatre of the National Arts Centre on Thursday March 21 and Friday March 22, 2013 at 7:30 p.m.

Harry (2012) is a co-production of BJM with the National Arts Centre, as well as The Joyce Theater Foundation (New York), Segal Centre for Performing Arts (Montreal), and the City of Montauban during Danse en Places Festival.

BJM celebrates 40 years of captivating dance throughout 2013, with works ranging in influence from classic, to contemporary, to urban-beat. “I felt that, yes, of course it’s an anniversary and it was time to make some reference to the past, but my theme was also the present and future,” explains Louis Robitaille, who has led the company since 1998.

Closer (2006)
Choreographer: Benjamin Millepied

Closer is an intense, physically dynamic yet subtle male-female pas de deux by French-born choreographer Benjamin Millepied. Formerly a principal dancer with New York City Ballet, Millepied has choreographed for that company as well as for Darren Aronofsky’s 2010 film Black Swan, starring his wife, Natalie Portman.  Closer is performed to a composition entitled Mad Rush by Philip Glass. With magnificent aplomb, the female lead in Closer is held aloft for nearly two minutes by her male partner– perhaps conveying an interesting commentary about the elevation of women. Millepied created Closer in France in 2006 for French dance star Céline Cassone (who joined BJM in 2008) and New York City Ballet principal Sébastien Marcovici. Partnered here with Alexander Hille, Ms. Cassone is very much at ease with the piece and is exquisite to watch. She moves freely, playing with, but not teasing, Hille’s attentive lover. The evocative lighting in pastel colours gives a hopeful and uplifting ambience to this magnificent piece.

Closer is an ideal vehicle for BJM’s unofficial prima, Celine Cassone, securely partnered through the choreography’s complex twists and lifts and turns by Alexander Hille … a do-or-die spirit …infuses the dancing with visceral excitement.”
Michael Crabb, The Toronto Star


Night Box (2012)

Choreography: Wen Wei Wang
In creating this new piece for Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal, Wen Wei Wang was inspired by urban street life, especially as it unfolds at night. Evoking the city through sounds, rhythms, music and an incessant blinking of lights, Night Box is a high-voltage work in which love, loss, sexuality, and joy are intertwined. In a state of slinky, weightless, perpetual movement, it combines contemporary ballet with street dance in alternating sequences for group, trio, duet and solo. Wang says, “This work is about people and everyday life through body language, energy, relationships and emotions, reflecting the world in which we are living."

Wang’s fascinating imaginary world of burgeoning manhood and confused desire…It’s all brilliantly theatrical, in turns witty, poignant and unsettling …."
Michael Crabb, The National Post


Harry (2012)
Choreography: Barak Marshall
Co-production: BJM with the National Arts Centre, The Joyce Theater Foundation (New York), Segal Centre for Performing Arts (Montreal), and the City of Montauban during Danse en PlaceS Festival.
This new creation – an NAC co-production – is made-to-measure for the BJM dancers, as Israeli-American choreographer Barak Marshall was inspired by the inner turmoil and battles we all wage. “Life is a constant struggle,” he says, “in which we are continually faced with conflicts with regard to culture, gender, species.” Between men and women, in particular, compromises must be made to achieve balance and harmony. This piece revolves around the character of Harry, who struggles to overcome forces both physical and existential. Teeming with energy, the work creates a vibrant onstage universe that is delicate, yet boisterous -- where each movement is of a rare intensity. Set to a score subtly combining jazz, Israeli folksongs, and traditional music, this new opus is imbued with hope and humour, alternating group sequences, trios, and duets in a fabulous extravaganza of fluid, dynamic and humourous dance.


"The dancers must also give meaning to the movement, so that the piece can meticulously portray relations between human beings. With superb imagery and elaborate, sophisticated choreography, Harry is a perfect match for the undeniable talent of Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal. A magnificent work!"
Sophie Lesort, Danser magazine (France)

Meet the Artistic Director for a Post-Performance Chat
Thursday, March 21, 2013

Join Louis Louis Robitaille, Artistic Director for BJM after the show on Thursday, March 21 for a special post-performance chat to share your experience of the performance. The 20 minute chat will take place in the NAC Theatre right after the show.

Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal Master Class
Saturday, March 23, 2013 10am to 12 noon

Offering pieces from the company's repertoire, this is a unique opportunity to encounter the ideas of young creators who are well on their way to become the leading choreographers of tomorrow. Open to intermediate and advanced dancers.

  • The deadline for registration is Wednesday, March 20, 2013. Email Kirsten Andersen, Dance Outreach Coordinator at
  • For dancers and students, aged 14 and up
  • Location: Rehearsal Hall B, National Arts Centre, 53 Elgin Street, Ottawa (enter by stage door)
  • Cost: $25 payable on site

BJM – Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal

An internationally renowned contemporary dance company, BJM - Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal is a repertory company that presents a hybrid form of dance that combines the aesthetics of classical ballet and embraces many other different styles of dance.

BJM is one of Canada’s most popular dance companies. It has presented more than 2,000 performances in 65 countries to more than 2 million spectators, and is a veritable ambassador of Quebec and Canadian culture worldwide.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, BJM has achieved a level of maturity and organizational stability while remaining open to the ever-evolving form that is contemporary dance. Its pieces are marked by dynamic physicality, virtuosity and the strong personalities of its performers, all of which contribute to the company’s unique signature. BJM has the remarkable ability to speak clearly to audiences through energetic presentations of strong, expressive and demanding dance.

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Clara Wicke, Marketing and Communications Officer, NAC Dance
613-947-7000, ext. 379