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Dancer Guillaume Côté made an open-minded step into choreography.‘I’m just going to admit to everybody that I suck at this and I’m just going to try, and I may completely fail, and I may fail at the first two pieces, but eventually I will want to do this enough that I will work on it and achieve something,’ he says. (Sian Richards)
Dancer Guillaume Côté made an open-minded step into choreography.‘I’m just going to admit to everybody that I suck at this and I’m just going to try, and I may completely fail, and I may fail at the first two pieces, but eventually I will want to do this enough that I will work on it and achieve something,’ he says. (Sian Richards)

THE CREATIVE MIND

For dancer Guillaume Côté, creating art is a series of ‘beautiful accidents’ Add to ...

So ballet happened when?

Ballet was all day and the music was at night. I’ve always been pretty productive. I wrote a lot of music after I got away from the band thing and started writing music for dance.

Where’s the music today in your life?

Today, it’s a bit on hold. I’ve been working on just one piece for ABT in New York, which will be for [acclaimed Russian ballerina and ABT principal dancer] Diana Vishneva for a show in Tokyo. I don’t know if she’ll like what I came up with, but we’ll see what happens. The choreography is now taking up all my spare time.

What’s next for you?

In July, I’m doing a workshop with the National Ballet of Canada. I have this idea that I want to create something big for the National Ballet of Canada but I don’t want to not deliver. So I told Karen what I wanted to do but that I wasn’t sure the concept would work and she said how about giving you a couple of days and a couple of dancers to work it out. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, we don’t have to talk about it.

That’s a wonderful degree of support.

It’s incredible support, because now I can develop this idea. She’s giving me time to create at home, within a safe environment, with people I love. So that’s at the end of July. As far as dancing, we’re going to Hamburg at the end of next week, to dance for John Neumeier at his prestigious Nijinsky Gala. It’s the gala’s 40th anniversary and he asked Heather and I to star in his gala.

What will you perform?

The first pas de deux from his ballet, The Seagull.

Lovely.

Also in July, we go on tour to Saratoga [in New York state] with the company. I will dance Four Seasons and Giselle. In August, Greta [Hodgkinson, a National Ballet dancer] asked me to create a solo for her, and I will work on that. I think I’ll use some Nine Inch Nails music for that. We’ll see.

Where do you think ballet is going?

Ballet is evolving, and I think it is evolving fast. I think it is definitely our responsibility, members of my generation, to keep it cool. I think it’s incredibly thrilling to approach new audiences, to get people to discover dance for the first time. I’m not saying that we just use rock music to achieve that. It’s about grabbing their interest in any way you can, whether through a story that’s really contemporary or a look.

What is creativity to you?

Creativity is the ability to see structure within the abyss of possibilities. Essentially there’s so much you can do as a creator if you have enough imagination, but you have to create the form. Stravinsky said it right: You can be someone with no rules and do whatever you want. But ultimately it is about creating new rules and making them fit what you create.

And sorry, but I have to ask. You are a dancer wearing Nikes. Why?

I have to keep my tendons healthy.

Your tendons? Why? Have you sustained an injury?

I did three years ago, and I was off for about nine months. A stress fracture in my tibia.

Did the recovery period alter your artistry in any way?

Of course. I started doing a lot of cross training. I’ve never not danced. So it put into question everything I knew. I began to wonder if ballet is really what I want to do, because I’ve always done it, or is it dispensable? But when I couldn’t do it any more, I actually missed it. When I came back to it I was that much more grateful.

You were hungry.

Absolutely.

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