Born in Hull, Quebec, Jean Grand-Maître began his dance training at York University in Toronto and later graduated from Montreal’s L’École supérieure de danse du Québec. He performed with Ballet British Columbia, Theatre Ballet of Canada and with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal.
His notable career, as an internationally acclaimed dance maker, was launched in 1994 when Reid Anderson, then Artistic Director of The National Ballet of Canada commissioned a work that was later toured to Europe. Anderson later also commissioned a work for Stuttgart Ballet. In doing so, Anderson opened many doors and within a few years, Grand-Maître was receiving major commissions from Europe’s leading opera houses.
Jean Grand-Maître has been hailed as one of the most outstanding Canadian choreographer and Artistic Directors of his generation. After a decade creating contemporary ballets for such leading North American and European companies as Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, the National Ballet of Canada, the National Norwegian Ballet, the Stuttgart Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet, Ballet British Columbia, the Munich Opera Ballet, The National Ballet of Cuba and the Teatro alla Scala, he was appointed Artistic Director of Alberta Ballet in 2002.
Under his leadership Alberta Ballet has been transformed into one of Canada’s most exciting and acclaimed companies. Its repertoire has expanded to embrace not only the many new works Grand-Maître has commissioned – including his own series of highly successful ballets inspired by today’s leading popular singer/musicians – but new productions of 19th-century full-length classics and 20th-century choreographic masterworks. Regardless of the repertoire, 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.
Since 2002, Alberta Ballet has enjoyed unprecedented success. Grand-Maitre has built the company’s national and international profile while maintaining a strong financial position and securing some of the highest surpluses in the company’s history.
Under his leadership Alberta Ballet has risen to become one of the finest dance ensembles in Canada and as it evolved from a chamber company to a full-fledged ballet troupe. Now Canada’s second largest, with 30 dancers and performing more than 7 programs every season. Its annual operating budget has grown from 7 to 12 million dollars. 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, he 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. The originality of his programming combined with the passionate commitment of its dancers has earned the Alberta Ballet a strong following in its twin provincial homes, Calgary and Edmonton, and abroad.
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 46 one act ballets as well as 30 full length ballets. All were created for the Alberta Balletby highly established and/or emerging choreographers from across Canada and from around the world.
He was also appointed Director of Choreography for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Vancouver Winter Olympics. This was an extremely significant opportunity that brought Alberta Ballet to international prominence while reaching an audience of over 2 billion spectators.
In 2007, following a close 2 year collaboration with Joni Mitchell, he launched a new series of acclaimed Portrait Ballets inspired by the greatest singer-songwriters of our time. This remarkable series has become one of the most successful in the company’s history, bringing new audiences to the theatre and offering a new esthetic in ballet narrative and design. Joni Mitchell’s The Fiddle and The Drum was followed by close collaborations with Sir Elton John, k.d. lang, Sarah McLachlan, Gordon Lightfoot and The Tragically Hip.
In 2018, he was awarded the Order of Canada for his extraordinary contributions to the nation.
President & CEO
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. In 2018, the Alberta Ballet Board of Directors passed a motion to modify the leadership structure of the Ballet, at which time, Chris became the President & CEO of Alberta Ballet.
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.