Grand Continental (Le)
Renowned for his refined style and precise movement, Montreal-based choreographer Sylvain Émard must have surprised some when he presented Le Grand Continental at the Festival TransAmériques in 2009. This unique show, a 30 minutes hybrid of contemporary dance and line dancing, included some sixty amateur dancers of varying ages and backgrounds. To the rhythms of country, techno, disco, waltzes and R&B music, they danced as one and had the entire Montreal downtown neighborhood rocking to their dynamic vibes. Back by popular demand, the cast doubled in 2010 for Le Très Grand Continental at the FTA, which proved as popular as the original, as was El Gran Continental, the version presented at the Festival de México in March 2011 and based on Latin social dancing.
In 2011, the concept further expanded by featuring 200 non-professional dancers in a whole new piece : Le Continental XL, and kicked off the 5th Festival TransAmériques, at Place des Festivals in the heart of Montreal. For this occasion, Sylvain Émard was named Personality of the Week by La Presse/Radio-Canada.
In 2014, Le Grand Continental closed the 75th season of the Celebrity Series of Boston and received the People’s Choice Award in the Best Nonprofit Event Concept category at the 2014 BizBash National Event Style Awards in New York. The annual American rendezvous of event professionals, BizBash honoured the best event-related ideas, strategies, products and venues across North America.
Since the first presentation of Le Grand Continental, the concept has gone on to tour extensively, from Mexico to South Korea, the U.S. and New Zealand. Almost 2000 dancers participated in one or more of those 13 editions, which attracted close to 85,000 spectators.
An unexpected blend
Mix popular tradition and contemporary art. Combine highly festive line dancing with the fluidity and expressiveness of contemporary dance. Who would have believed that Sylvain Émard would rely on the authenticity and brio of amateur dancers to galvanize audiences? Yet his fascination for line dancing goes back a long way. It is rooted in his childhood, in the basement of his parish church where he discovered the pleasures of social dancing. He was soon captivated by the concentration required, by the trance-like state it provoked among the dancers and by their enthusiasm for the form. Many years later it coloured some of his pieces: one can find implied references to it in Mensonge Variations (1998), Scènes d’intérieur (2001) or Wave (2008). With Le Grand Continental, Sylvain Émard is returning to his first love in strikingly original fashion.
Source: Sylvain Émard Danse
Le Continental XL at the Festival TransAmériques 2011
A Sylvain Émard Danse and Festival TransAmériques co-production, co-presented by Quartier des spectacles of Montreal
CHOREOGRAPH Sylvain Émard
PROFESSIONAL DANCERS Nathalie Blanchet, Maryse Carrier, Mark Eden-Towle, Geneviève Gauvreau, Jean-François Légaré, Alexandre Parenteau, Julie Siméon, Catherine Viau
MUSIC Martin Tétreault, Dj Mini, El Instituto Mexicano del Sonido
LIVE MUSIC Dj Mini
LIGHTING DESIGN Bruno Rafie
A prolific and internationally respected artist, Sylvain Émard created his own dance company Sylvain Émard Danse in 1990, quickly establishing a reputation for a very original style. Highly theatrical at first, his work soon evolved into a more formal approach to dance. From his first solo piece « Ozone, Ozone » (1987) to his most recent work « Ce n'est pas la fin du monde » (2013), he has been exploring the territory of human nature through the force and strength of the body. His repertoire now includes some thirty original pieces that have had a resounding impact all over the world.
Renowned for his refined style and precise movement, his presentation in 2009 of « Le Grand Continental » at the Festival TransAmériques must have come to some as a surprise. Inspired by line dancing, this unique piece has featured 2000 non-dancers in several performances across Canada, the United States, Mexico, South Korea and New Zealand, attracting some 85,000 spectators.
Sylvain Émard’s unique style has led to invitations to work as guest choreographer in theatre, opera and cinema. These collaborations include his joining forces with Robert Lepage in 2005 to work on the opera 1984 by Lorin Maazel, presented namely at Covent Garden in London and at La Scala in Milan.
Source: Sylvain Emard 's website