The dancer and artistic director Louis Robitaille was born in Montreal in 1957. In 1974 at the age of 16, Louis Robitaille joined the Compagnie de danse Eddy Toussaint (later known as the Ballet de Montréal), where he performed and studied dance under the tutelage of a wide range of ballet masters. His incarnation of the legendary character Alexis le Trotteur turned him into an icon of Quebec dance. At the initiative of Madam Chiriaeff, whom he viewed as a mentor, the young dancer was recruited by the Grands Ballets Canadiens in 1978. As part of the GBC's 20th anniversary program, he was chosen for the title role in Lucas Hoving's modern dance classic Icarus. Rudy Bryans, the principal dancer with the Ballet National de Marseille made a big impact on Louis Robitaille, as he became a source of inspiration and a guide who greatly influenced his dancing and his artistic path. Louis Robitaille joined the Grands Ballets Canadiens as a principal dancer in 1989-98. In 1994 Louis Robitaille became artistic director of the Jeune Ballet du Québec, where he explored new dance forms. Encouraged by the response to his work, he established a small chamber ballet group, Bande à Part, and also founded Danse-Théâtre de Montréal. He continued to dance and was appointed artistic director of BJM in 1998, where he redefined the company's artistic approach without abandoning its unique nature. Louis Robitaille is the recipient of the Order of Canada, the Ordre national du Québec and the Jacqueline Lemieux Prize. He has received numerous grants from the Quebec Ministry of Culture, and he and his company were awarded the Prix Rideau Hommage in addition to the Montreal Arts Council's Prix de reconnaissance.
Andonis Foniadakis grew up in city of Ierapetra, in the south part of the island of Crete, in Greece. He began his dance training with Niki Papadaki at the local dance school, in his hometown. He studied at the State Dance School of Athens and before his graduation he received the prestigious Maria Callas scholarship to continue his studies in Rudra Bejart Lausanne, in Switzerland until 1994. As a freelance choreographer he has collaborated with The Royal New Zealand Ballet, Geneva Ballet Switzerland, Lyon Opera Ballet (France), Bern Ballet (Switzerland), Ballet de Lorraine (France) Luzern Ballet (Switzerland) Gauthier Dance Company (Germany), Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal (Canada) and more. He has been director of the Greek National Ballet for the season 2016- 2017 and has programmed the seasons 2016-17 and 2017-18. He is currently the resident choreographer of the Greek National Ballet. Foniadakis has choreographed for 3 operas: The Theatre des Champs Elysees - Castor et Pollux, Opera National du Rhin - Les boreades by Rameau GRAME Lyon - Il canto de la pelle by Claudio Ambrosini. He collaborated as moving coordinator for the film NOAH by Darren Aronofsky. In 2012 he received the Danza and Danza Award for the “Best Choreographer 2012” in Italy, for the creation Les Noces in Maggio Danza- Florence Ballet. As well he has collaborated with Palais de Tokyo as Choreographic Curator for the exhibition Prec(ar)ious Collectives that took place in Athens Greece as parallel event of the Documenta 14, in 2017. In addition to creating and performing, Andonis is teaching seminars based on his personal dance technique. He has been teaching in the State Dance School of Greece, DAN.C.CE studios and Baile de Barrio in Athens, DOCK11 in Berlin, CND and CNSMD in Lyon, Dansgroep Amsterdam, Henny Jurriens.
Annabelle Lopez Ochoa
The Colombian-Belgian Annabelle Lopez Ochoa completed her dance education at the Royal Ballet School of Flanders in Belgium. After a 12-year long dance career, where she danced as a soloist with the Scapino Ballet, she decided in 2003 to focus her energies solely on choreography. Annabelle is an award-winning and sought-after choreographer who has created works for more than 40 companies around the world such as the Scapino Ballet Rotterdam, Dutch National Ballet, English National Ballet, Ballet Black, New York City Ballet and more. Ms. Lopez Ochoa is a versatile choreographer who creates also for theater, opera, musical theater and for fashion events such as for the celebrated Dutch fashion designers Viktor & Rolf’s project in the Van Gogh Museum. She belongs to the Theater-Dance collective “De Fantasten” with whom she co-directed successfully five full-length productions and which have been performed in numerous theaters and festivals throughout the Netherlands. In 2009, she created for BJM, Zip Zap Zoom which is included in the 10 best dance moments of the year by the Pittsburg Gazette, Boston Globe and the Montreal Gazette and was included in the list of 10 best dance highlights of the year in San Diego and Chicago. Her work was several times awarded. In 2007 Annabelle was elected to participate with the prestigious New York City Ballet Choreographic Institute. In 2002, Replay received the first prize and public’s prize at the Bornem Choreographers Competition and in 2001 Clair/Obscur had the third prize at the Hannover choreographer’s competition.
Ihsan Rustem was born in London, where he trained at the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. Rustem began his professional career at the age of 17, joining Matthew Bourne’s Adventures in Motion Pictures, followed by engagements with the Ballett Theater Munich (Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz) and Introdans in The Netherlands. In 2007 Ihsan moved to Switzerland as a Soloist with the Bern Ballet and later a founding member of the Tanz Luzerner Theater. In 2010 Sarah Slipper invited Ihsan to Portland, Oregon USA, where he created ‘State of Matter’ for the Northwest Dance Project, a piece which went on to win both the 2012 Sadler’s Wells Global Dance Contest and the Audience Choice Award at the 25th International Competition for Choreographers Hannover. In 2015 Ihsan was appointed Resident Choreographer for NWDP and continues in this position today. He is the former Artistic Director of the Dance Art Studio Balletschule Luzern, Switzerland and currently serves as its Artistic Advisor. Rustem was the 2014 recipient of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s International Commissioning Project and a winner of Whim W’him’s inaugural Choreographic Shindig in 2015. His sixth original work for the NW Dance Project, ‘Carmen’, won Dance Magazine’s 2017 Readers’ Choice Award for Best Collaboration. He was a featured choreographer for Russia’s TV show ‘The Bolshoi Ballet’.
Brandi began her dance training studying a variety of disciplines. Earlier on in her career she focused more on the commercial industry and this took her to California where she signed to her agency. After some time there her passion brought her to Vancouver where she started training at Arts Umbrella under the guidance of Artemis Gordon. During this time she has been fortunate enough to have performed works by Cayetano Soto, Compagnie Marie Chouinard, Mauro Astolfi, Fernando Magadan, Aszure Barton, Crystal Pite, Sharon Eyal, Jirí Kylián, William Forsythe, Gioconda Barbuto, James Kudelka, Leslie Telford, Wen Wei Wang and Mats Ek. After two years at Arts Umbrella she joined BJM in 2017.
Yosmell Calderon (Principal Artist)
Born in Russia, Yosmell graduated as a dancer and teacher of contemporary dance and folk dance from Cuba's National School of Dance (ENA) in Havana in 2005, and also received a diploma from the University of Arts (ISA) in 2014. Yosmell has collaborated with outstanding figures in the world of dance such as Rafael Bonachela, Mats Ek, Itzik Galili, Carlos Junior Acosta, Jan Linkens, Juan Cuz and Ana Laguna. He has performed as a principal dancer of Danza Contemporanea de Cuba in Pal Frenak Company, in more than 22 works by Cuban and foreign choreographers, touring important festivals and theatre venues around the world. He is a choreographer for the Cuban National Ballet School and its performances at the International Ballet Festival of Havana and, thanks to his background in Olympic gymnastics, he also choreographs for circus performances. He joined BJM in July 2016 and was promoted to principal artist in 2019.
Céline Cassone (Principal Artist)
Born in France, Céline began studying dance as a child at the Conservatoire National de Danse d’Avignon. In 1993, she joined the Deutsch Oper Berlin for one year and the following season, the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe for four years. She then enrolled in the Béjart Ballet Lausanne, under the direction of Maurice Béjart, where she performed many solo roles. It was also as a soloist that she joined, in 1999, the Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève. Céline has had the opportunity to take part in many innovative contemporary productions while also working with internationally renowned choreographers. She performed in several international galas and was the recipient, in 2006, of the « Étoile de Ballet 2000 » dance award and in 2010, she received the «Premio Asti Danza» dance award. Deciding to acquire the freedom to accept a variety of new challenges, Céline became an independent artist in 2008. She was part of Morphoses, Christopher Wheeldon’s company, and she worked with choreographer Benjamin Millepied (Dances Concertantes). She joined BJM in 2008 as the principal artist and additionally became artistic coordinator in 2009.
Born and raised in Riviera Beach, Florida, he began his preliminary training at the Palm Beach Ballet Center, under the direction of Joan Miller for 6 years. While training, he worked and performed with members of Ballet Florida as well as other companies around the country. Jeremy spent 2 years training full-time with Ballet Florida where he performed full-length ballets such as The Nutcracker, Copellia, and Cleopatra, as well as appearing as a dancer in the Palm Beach Opera’s production of La Traviata in 2007. He studied under the direction of Heather Lescaille and Tina Martin at the Florida Dance Conservatory in 2009 and graduated from the Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts in 2011 and became a finalist in the YoungArts National Foundation for Advancement of the Arts (NFAA) competition. Jeremy worked with performers and choreographers such as Desmond Richardson, Aubrey Lynch, Camille A. Brown, and Bill T. Jones. Jeremy graduated The Juilliard School with a BFA in dance and started the adventure with BJM in 2015.
Born in Ottawa, Kennedy started studying dance at Ecole superieure de ballet du Quebec when she was 14 years old. For the next six years she had the opportunity of working with many internationally renowned choreographers and dancers, such as Roberto Campanella, James Gregg, Eric Beauchesne and many others. In 2013, Kennedy won second place for her contemporary solo at the Youth American Grand Prix competition. She has also performed classical roles such as the Four Swans in Swan Lake and the grand pas de deux of Les Sylphides. Kennedy has worked with the company since May 2014.
Shanna Irwin, USA, grew up in New Jersey where she began training as a competitive dancer. She switched her focus towards ballet when she was accepted into The New Jersey Dance Theatre Ensemble, under the direction of Nancy Turano. She spent summers training with World Dance Movement- Italy, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and The Vancouver Arts Umbrella. Irwin went on to continue her studies at Marymount Manhattan College, under the direction of Katie Langan. She began touring with Complexions Contemporary Ballet during her senior year and graduated with a BFA in Dance in May 2014. She completed five seasons with Complexions, and in 2019 accepted a position with Ballets Jazz de Montréal. Recent recognition includes the following quote from Dance Teacher Magazine “Shanna Irwin has been dazzling audiences with her undeniable strength, full-bodied performances, and eternally lengthened lines.”
Terra Kell was raised in Calgary, Alberta, where she attended Drewitz Dance Productions and EDGE School for Athletes. She continued her dance training at the University of Arizona, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance, Summa Cum Laude. Upon graduating, Terra attended Springboard Danse Montreal, through which she auditioned for and joined Visceral Dance Chicago. With Visceral, Terra had the opportunity to perform at the Harris Theatre and take part in collaboration with the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra. Terra has had the great pleasure of dancing works by Ohad Naharin, Jerome Robbins, Lesley Telford, and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, among others. In 2015, Terra was the recipient of the Maria C. Mandel Memorial Ballet Scholarship. Terra joined les Ballets Jazz de Montréal in 2018.
Elijah Labay, born in Victoria, British Columbia, started training at Ballet Arts Academy in Spokane, Washington. In 2004, Elijah joined Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet Professional Division and later attended the Fellowship Program at The Alvin Ailey School on full scholarship. Elijah received a Professional Advancement Award at Jacob’s Pillow to work with Aszure Barton, Helen Pickett, and Tero Saarinen. In 2009, he joined Florida Dance Theatre, dircected by Carol Erkes. In 2010, Elijah joined NW Dance Project, where he danced original works created by Sarah Slipper, Patrick Delcroix, Ihsan Rustem, Lucas Crandall, Jiri Pokorny, Pedro Dias, Danielle Agami, Yin Yue, Gregory Dolbashian, André Mesquita, Wen Wei Wang, James Gregg, Felix Lander, Alex Soares, Loni Landon, Olivier Wevers, Noam Gagnon, and others. Elijah joined BJM in 2018.
Marcel Mejia is originally from Miami, Florida. He graduated from New World School of the Arts and later attended George Mason University’s School of Dance under the directoin of Susan Shields. He has performed works from world-renowned choreographers such as Lar Lubovitch, Nacho Duato, Andonis Foniadakis, Ivan Perez and Alejandro Cerrudo. Mr. Mejia has also attended summer dance programs such as Springboard Danse Montreal in Canada – where he performed works by Johannes Wieland and Rachel Erdos – and the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, dancing original works by Tom Weinberger, Alex Ketley, and excerpts of Ohad Naharin’s repertory. Marcel has served on the faculty of the Thomas Armour Youth Ballet and as a volunteer dance instructor at the Lotus House Shelter in Miami, Florida. He joins BJM in 2019 as an apprentice.
Andrew Mikhaiel is originally from Mississauga, Ontario. He earned a BFA at Marymount Manhattan College in 2017, under the direction of Katie Langan. During his tenure at MMC, he danced in works choreographed by Paul Taylor, Aszure Barton, Alexandra Damiani, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Norbert De La Cruz III, Adam Barruch, Larry Keigwin, and Jo Strømgren. He performed at The Joyce Theater for the Martha Graham Company’s University Partners Showcase, at the 92nd Street Y’s Fridays at Noon Series, and for the American Dance Guild. In his senior year, Andrew directed and organized a dance outreach program for NYC public schools, serving 240 3rd-5th graders. He was accepted to and attended Springboard Danse Montreal in the summer of 2016. Andrew joined Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal in 2017.
Born in Germany, Ben trained at The Royal Ballet School White Lodge and the Upper School. He completed his last year of training at Elmhurst School where he performed with The Birmingham Royal Ballet. Upon graduating in 2007, he joined The Northern Ballet, where he performed many leading roles and worked with choreographers such as Wayne McGregor, Hanz van Manen and Cathy Marston. In 2013, he was named the critics’ choice 'Outstanding Male Dancer' in Dance Europe. After leaving from Northern Ballet in 2013, he joined the Deborah Colker Dance Company in Rio de Janeiro, where he performed in and around South America and participated in the FIFA World Cup final draw performance. In 2014, Ben joined Phoenix Dance Theatre where he danced for twp years. As a teacher and assistant, he has taught and set works on companies and schools in the United Kingdom and the United States. Ben joined BJM in 2016.
Saskya PAUZÉ-BÉGIN studied at the École Supérieure de Ballet du Québec from 2011 to 2014. She spent the last two summers between semesters at the Arts Umbrella summer Intensive workshop in Vancouver, and attended summer ballet classes in Berlin taught by William Forsythe, learning the repertoire of The Nutcracker - Claude Caron, Swan Lake - Taïna Morales, Balanchine (Diamonds and Episodes ) - Josyanne Sidimus, Seascape - Judith Marcuse, M.O.R. - Gioconda Barbuto, Hommage - Sophie Estel. She began her first season with BJM in 2014 as the second recipient of the Eva von Gencsy Scholarship, which supports emerging young dancers in Quebec.
Julia Radick was born and raised in New York City. She trained at LaGuardia Arts High School and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts with honours from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Julia spent six seasons with NW Dance Project in Portland, Oregon, USA, where she danced original roles by Ihsan Rustem, Sarah Slipper, Cayetano Soto, Patrick Delcroix, Felix Landerer, Lucas Crandall, Jiri Pokorny, Wen Wei Wang, Danielle Agami, Yin Yue, and others. She joined BJM in 2019.
Born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario, Madeleine Salhany is a recent BFA graduate from the conservatory of dance at SUNY Purchase. Madeleine began her training at Canterbury High School of the Arts and Greta Leeming Studio of Dance. During this time she was given the opportunity to dance with the Kirov Ballet in La Bayadère and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens’ The Nutcracker at Ottawa’a National Arts Centre. Throughout her four years at Purchase, she was fortunate enough to work with Ana Maria Lucaciu, Loni Landon, Sidra Bell, and Ohad Naharin (Decadance). Madeleine was also given the opportunity to study abroad at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) during her third year. She has had the privilege of attending several summer programs and workshops including Arts Umbrella, Movement Invention Project NYC, the Pina Bausch Workshop at WAAPA and Nederlands Dans Theater Summer Intensive. Madeleine is excited to be joining BJM this season.
Ermanno Sbezzo trained at BalletO di Toscana School in Florence, Italy before graduating from École supérieure de Cannes Rosella Hightower in Cannes, France. His professional career began at Ballet Pforzeim (Germany) and continued on to Pfalztheater Kaiserslautern (Germany), both under the direction of James Sutherland. Sbezzo has performed works by Jean-Christophe Maillot, Jiri Kylian, James Sutherland, Davide Bombana, George Balanchine and Francesco Nappa. In 2014 he attended the Nederlands Dans Theater summer intensive where he worked with Sol Leon and Paul Lightfoot, Crystal Pite, and Marco Goecke. In 2019, he joined BJM - Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal.