Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal embarks on historic Middle East tour

    MONTREAL, May 25 /CNW Telbec/ - After conquering the City of Light last
summer as guests of Les Etés de la danse de Paris festival, Les Grands Ballets
Canadiens de Montréal will embark on another major tour abroad this June
featuring three different programs. The company will be visiting Tel Aviv to
join in marking the city's 100th anniversary celebrations and the 60th
anniversary of bilateral relations between Canada and the State of Israel, as
well as Jerusalem and Cairo, Egypt. The company will then fly to Europe to
perform in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and in Baden-Baden, Germany. This is a major
event for Les Grands Ballets: it is the first time since its inception that
the company will perform in the Middle East. To mark this exceptional visit,
invitations have been sent to the President of Israel, Shimon Peres, and to
the first lady of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Suzanne Mubarak.
    During its first stop, in Tel Aviv, Les Grands Ballets will give two
performances, on June 1 and 2, on the outdoor stage of the Suzanne Dellal
Centre for Dance and Theatre, as part of the Big Stage Festival. Les Grands
Ballets will perform two major pieces from its repertoire: Noces by Stijn
Celis and Cantata by Mauro Bigonzetti.
    In Noces, a highly popular piece on the company's tours, 24 dancers strut
and clash brutally at a delirious Balkan peasant wedding, expressionistic and
intense, to the haunting music of Igor Stravinsky. "Noces is extraordinary,"
said The New York Times. Exploding with vitality and passion, Cantata,
commissioned by Ballet Gulbenkian in 2001, has been part of Les Grands
repertoire for two years. Set to popular Neapolitan songs performed live by
the singers of the group Assurd, Cantata, through instinctive and visceral
dance, explores the multiple facets of relations between men and women, from
seduction to jealousy. "Cantata is an explosive work," according to the Times
of London.
    This same program will also be performed at the Jerusalem Centre for the
Performing Arts on June 5 during the Israel Festival and at the Cairo Opera
House on June 9, 10, 11 and 12.
    After touring Middle East, the company will head to Europe, where on June
16 at Cankarjev Dom in Ljubljana, it will perform a double program by Celis:
Noces and The Rite of Spring, the latter its European première. The tour will
come to a close at Festspielhaus Baden-Baden in Germany with three
performances of a program by Bigonzetti on June 19, 20 and 21. In addition to
Cantata, the company will perform Four Seasons, set to Antonio Vivaldi's
extremely well-known score. The work was commissioned by Les Grands Ballets
and premiered in May 2007 at Théâtre Maisonneuve of Place des Arts; in it,
Bigonzetti successfully carried off the challenge of innovating with music
that's been used thousands of times, drawing out "the internal seasons of man,
in all his moods and swings."


    "Unquestionably, this tour will be a milestone in our history," says
Alain Dancyger, Executive Director, Les Grands Ballets de Montréal. "The
company's historic presence in the Middle East is significant, clearly
underscoring our established international reputation."
    "I am, however, extremely upset that the Government of Canada has
abolished PROMART and Trade Routes, the only two programs that support
international tours," Mr. Dancyger continues. "The decision to cut off all
financial support for exporting and raising the visibility of our culture is
surprising in the current economic context. Foreign demand for our company's
work is at the highest level it has ever been in our history. "
    "What is particularly disappointing-and, in truth, incomprehensible," Mr.
Dancyger continues, "is the fact that the elimination of PROMART is based on
the supposed inefficiency of the program, a charge that has never been proven
and that contradicts the results of the internal audit carried out by the
government. While companies are crying famine, $25 million is immobilized in
Ottawa waiting for projects. In light of this, I question the effectiveness of
this measure at a time when, more than ever, Canada needs to marshal its
energies and resources to build its economy and its international image -
goals that the arts world has always attained with dynamism and flair.
    Les Grands Ballets has mobilized all its energies to make this tour
possible. More than 40% of its budget comes from the private sector; the
company succeeded in raising more than $400,000. It also benefited from the
significant support of the Jewish community, thanks to numerous donations from
foundations and individuals, and that of the Egyptian corporate community. But
the withdrawal of the federal government's funding nonetheless leaves us with
a gaping loss of $150,000 despite the financial support of many of our
    Mr. Dancyger concludes: "Les Grands Ballets remains one of today's most
dynamic cultural promoters on the international stage, exporting excellence,
innovation and diversity. I hold out hope that the Government of Canada will
recognize the importance of the role our company plays within the
international community and for the Canadian economy."


    The 2009 tour of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal was made
possible thanks to the special support of the Ministère de la Culture, des
Communications et de la Condition féminine du Québec, the Conseil des arts et
des lettres du Québec and the Ministère des Relations internationales du
    Les Grands Ballets would like to thank Air Canada, its official airline,
and Bombardier Aviation for its special contribution.

    For our shows in Israel

    Les Grands Ballets also thanks the Azrieli Foundation and the Azrieli
Group of Companies, Israel, the Alex and Ruth Dworkin Foundation, the
Federation CJA, and the Jewish Community Foundation of Montréal. In addition,
Les Grands Ballets would like to express its gratitude to His Excellency Jon
Allen, Ambassador of Canada to Israel, for his support of the June 1 gala, to
Michèle Séguev of the Consulate General of Israel in Montréal, and to all our
individual donors.

    For our shows in Egypt

    Les Grands Ballets would like to thank His Excellency Ferry de Kerckhove,
Ambassador of Canada to Egypt, for his unflagging support, as well as the
ARTOC Group for Investment and Development/Mohammed Shafik Gabr, Bombardier
Aviation, Suez Cement/Omar A. Mohanna, Fednav, Orascom Telecom/Naguib Sawiris,
Gharib Oil Fields, Canspect/Taha Qirbi, Ibrahim Kamel and TransGlobe/Albert
and Noura Gress for their financial support.

    Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal is supported by the Conseil des
arts et des lettres du Québec, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Conseil
des arts de Montréal.

For further information:

For further information: Isabelle Gagnon, Press Officer,
igagnon@grandsballets.com; Francine Arsenault, Director, Communications,
farsenault@grandsballets.com; (514) 849-8681, www.grandsballets.com

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