In the second instalment of our week-long series, Marsha Lederman profiles some of the creators, philanthropists and visionaries who are helping turn Calgary into one of the country’s most vibrant centres for the arts.
Artistic director, Alberta Ballet
Born:Hull, Que. (now Gatineau)
Moved to Calgary:2002
Since arriving in Calgary from Montreal a decade ago, Jean Grand-Maître has created 13 ballets, eight of them full-length, including works set to the music of Joni Mitchell, Elton John, Sarah McLachlan and k.d. lang. Some may sneer at the Top 40 approach to the classic art, but Grand-Maître is laughing all the way to the box office. If the ballets don’t sell out, they come close. This year marks the longest season in the company’s history: 44 weeks, seven programs, six performances for each series (compared to four when he started). There’s also talk of launching a parallel touring company, with international interest in Love Lies Bleeding (which won approval from Elton John) and the McLachlan ballet Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. “I encourage a lot of my friends who are in those overly saturated markets out East, struggling to put on their shows and burning out, to come and live here,” said Grand-Maître last Wednesday – the 10th anniversary, to the day, of his arrival in Calgary. “I didn’t know how good it was until I got here. I meet about 10 people a week who are interested in helping us