Jean Grand-Maître is widely recognized as among the most successful Canadian choreographers and artistic directors of his generation.
Born in Hull, Quebec, Grand-Maître began his dance training at York University in Toronto and continued at Montreal’s L’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 this year 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 National Norwegian Ballet, the National 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.
His experience in staging multidisciplinary dance and theatre is extensive and includes special creations for film, theatre festivals, circus performers, opera, musicals, television specials and large scale outdoor events. In 2010, he was Director of Choreography 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 Encounters, 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. He has commissioned 38 one act ballets, as well as 21 full length works. He has also revived 21 one act ballets and 14 full length ballets from the company’s repertoire. All were created or revived for the Alberta Ballet by more than 35 highly established and/or emerging choreographers mainly from Canada.
Chris George is a long-time advocate for a strong arts community in Alberta. In 2007, he accepted the Managing Director position at the School of Alberta Ballet, overseeing the establishment of a private boarding school that paired strong academics with premiere dance instruction—the only one of its kind in western Canada. The School of Alberta Ballet’s academic stream today attracts students from around the world and graduates of this program have gone on to work with Hong Kong Ballet, Norwegian National Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Ballet BC, and of course, several have gone on to join Alberta Ballet.
In 2015, Chris became the Executive Director for Alberta Ballet and began work on a transformation plan for the Company. Key priorities in this vision include establishing a new core business structure with deep community relationships throughout Alberta. This vision will provide Alberta Ballet with the financial stability to grow the Company into the 21st century. The arts today face the same dynamic and shifting landscapes as the rest of the world—from the forever evolving digital frontiers to new methods of real world engagements. Within this landscape, Chris has established a strategic plan focused on creating premier live dance experiences in Canada.
Before joining Alberta Ballet, Chris spent seven years with the Canadian Red Cross as the Manager, Community Development and Organizational Capacity Building. His time there was spent building relationships with over 50 community-service organizations and working on issues as diverse as HIV prevention, disaster management, child abuse prevention and outcomes measurements.