Going behind the scene of one of the most appreciated ballets of all time

Christmas is all about traditions, and some of them are more magical than others. I remember the first time I saw a performance of the Nutcracker during the holidays as a ten-year-old girl who was proudly wearing a puffy sweater. I wasn’t sure if I would have been able to watch people dancing to classical music for hours without dashing towards the closest exit. Within the first few minutes of the show I began to realize how much I enjoyed it. The mixture of colorful costumes and joyful expressions on the faces of the performers was truly captivating.

When the Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal offered us the chance to tour the backstage area a few minutes before the general opening, it was a no brainer. Trying to make us as invisible as possible, we followed their charming publicist, Aléna, into an abyss of extravagant decoration. It’s hard to describe how impressive it is to be on the main stage while looking at the empty seats waiting to be filed. During this time, we were able to hear the ballerinas practicing behind us, while feeling like we were spies stationed in a privileged bubble.  While heading deeper behind the scenes, we arrived at the spot where the younger dancers were preparing for the premiere. One of them, Pierre-Émile Lemieux-Venne, is performing for the fourth time.  “I still feel very excited and a little bit nervous before getting on stage. The adrenaline rush helps me focus on getting better each time”, he said. “All the dancers are very close. We’re like a big family and everybody works in harmony – from the performers to the costumes designers and the technicians. It is very important for us that the magic of The Nutcracker can be felt each night during production.”

Talking about costumes, they are one of the most important elements of The Nutcracker. Created by François Barbeau, a Quebec designer and Emmy Award recipient, they are so magical that you can almost imagine the whole performance by taking a glimpse at them. “The people working in the costume department finished their work two days ago and now they don’t know what to do with themselves.  The adrenaline rush is gone”, explained Aléna.  It is almost time for the show to start and for us to leave. Just one last look at the nutcracker lying on a table backstage before letting the magic happen.


The Nutcracker at Place des Arts, December 11th to 30th

Photos by Christelle Saint-Julien


About The Author

Marie-Ève Venne
Lifestyle Director

Marie-Ève is a little person who still secretly wishes she was one of the Olsens twins. You can catch her running from event to event, a coffee bigger than her face in one hand and her cell phone glued to the other. At Dress To Kill, she is the one writing about the newest musician you need to discover and that trendy bar that makes the best damn cocktails in the city.

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