Skip the navigation
  • Events
  • AI09
  • About Us
  • History
  • Alumni
  • Français
Assemblée Internationale 2009

Assemblée Internationale 09

9:00AM - 12:30PM
Currie Hall
Student Choreographic Forum
Celia Franca Centre
1:00PM - 4:30PM
Ideas Exchange/Student Forum
Betty Oliphant Theatre & Celia Franca Centre
5:30PM - 9:30PM
Reception & party
Mona Campbell Square, Celia Franca Centre

Interviews and Reports

AI09 Day 8

Interview with Mavis Staines, NBS' Artistic Director & Co-CEO
by Katharine Harris, NBS' Media Relations & Communications Officer

Did you feel the Assemblée Internationale was a success?
I absolutely feel the Assemblée Internationale was a success. The event turned out to be even more intriguing and galvanizing than I could have hoped for. It was one of those rare occasions where the reality of the event met and surpassed the dream for how well it would be executed.

Was there a particular moment that was a highlight for you?
The entire week was full of moments that I found most incredible. One of the most intense memories for me was related to the student choreography portion of the Assemblée. Throughout all the years of planning and plotting the AI, the student choreography was the area that needed the most thinking, plotting and planning, as something like this had simply never been done before. To imagine it succeeding required a leap of faith, not just on my part but on behalf of everyone involved, all the staff, students and Artistic Directors from all the participating schools. To see that all our work and guessing and logistics and planning had worked so well was extremely gratifying. The artistic momentum that exists now, and the excitement we all shared, will forever be one of my most cherished memories.

Overall I think the greatest highlight for me was the feeling of a community coming together. Everyone celebrated the process as much as the outcome, which was a wonderful experience for me to be a part of. The sense of camaraderie that was pervasive was really unique, and I just felt everyone, from the students through to the Artistic Directors were all working together effectively, supporting this impassioned and strong community of dancers.

Did the Assemblée Internationale achieve what you wanted it to achieve?
I believe it did. I wanted everyone who was here to feel their life as a dancer was enhanced, and I do think that happened.

AI09 Day 8

Gianpiero Russo, NBS Grad (1989-93)
in conversation with Joanna Gertler, NBS' Director of Marketing & Communications

It was great to be back in Toronto (from my native Italy) for a visit. Toronto was my second home in 1989 and I'm forever indebted to the School and the city that gave me the opportunity to become a professional dancer. I'm very proud of the School – especially now as it has changed greatly with better technologies and facilities. These now allow the students even greater chances for success.

The week of the AI was amazing. The NBS staff did a great job on working on an international scale in this economic situation. That my school took the initiative for this event is an incredible feat. Mavis really knows how to pull things together – she has all the right connections to do so.

Leaving Toronto and the AI09, I'll remember what a great experience it was and knowing what the next generation of professional dancers will look like!

AI09 Day 8

The A-Z for AI09: Some of What the Core Committee Covered
by Joanna Gertler, AI09 Core Committee Member

The Core committee's photo accompanies Mavis' welcome in the front of the Souvenir Program for the AI09, but you probably don't realize the breadth of expertise and roles we shared in our monthly, weekly, and finally, daily meetings.

While not usually included on the intricacies of production or artistic requirements, attending these meetings allowed me to learn of the necessities around body make-up for Swan Lake (and the proximity to water for applying this make-up), the number of  mirrors required for all performers to apply their make-up prior to performance (to say nothing of procuring them!). Staging three different performances, all with varying requirements around music, lighting and costumes – with a slew of Artistic Directors in tow, never mind the languages – proved fascinating, as were the challenges around "spacing" and giving each school and each choreographer appropriate rehearsal time on stage. Working closely with Box Office to ensure all visitors, parents, staff and donors were accommodated at our Sold Out performances provided real insight into the people skills required by front-of-house staff! This is to say nothing of the logistics and prep that went into air travel, accommodations, meal arrangements and getting the entire NBS student body with all visitors to and from The National Ballet of Canada's production of The Sleeping Beauty.

It's all over now, but I certainly hope that the lessons learnt by being a part of this incredible festival will be put to good use for the next AI!

AI09 Day 8

Melynda Jurgenson, Technical Director for the Betty Oliphant Theatre
in conversation with Joanna Gertler, NBS' Director of Marketing & Communications

Prior to the guests arriving, there was much paperwork and planning to be done in order to ensure the lighting design for each school's Existing Repertoire and Student Choreographic piece would run according to their expectations. Extra equipment was ordered – including cables and a huge rig to hang in the air. Plugging the various cables required planning as did the renting of the fog machines for Swan Lake. Scheduling the crew and facilitating last minute changes were also part of the process.

Two technicians were brought over with the group from Stuttgart – and it turned out to be a real advantage to have them with the crew all week. Initially expecting them only to work on Stuttgart's pieces, Walter and Volker were only too willing to pitch in to assist and support the crew. In fact, the crew had their own “exchange” experience and took the opportunity to share with the Germans such topics as health and safety requirements, metric v. imperial measures, and other hot technical topics!

The crew of 5 or 6 (depending on which show was running that night) worked long days – from early mornings until late at night – but the mood and attitude was totally supportive and enthusiastic. The daily tasks would vary depending on the day of the week: after load-in took place, temporary dressing-rooms needed to be assembled + an additional 12 make-up stations with mirrors. Ballet barres had to be moved into all of the studios to accommodate the extra numbers in the classes and then there were pianos to be moved (on stage, off stage, and on again).

In terms of the number of pieces being performed, each requiring its own set of lighting and sound cues – it could've caused anyone to tear their hair out – but no-one did. Every participating student and Artistic Director was totally professional and completely supportive. It was a great experience, the shows ran smoothly and the crew now have two new colleagues as a result!  

AI09 Day 8

Reflecting upon the Assemblée Internationale
by Shaun Amyot, Improvisation AI09 Choreographer

The aspect of the Assemblée Internationale that I was most involved with – and concerned about! – was the student choreographic workshop. Because I was responsible for the casting of all the works, I was quite nervous until everyone's first rehearsal. Once that had happened, and each cast had been all together in one studio, I realized that we were really on track and that this great adventure was really happening!

For me, the greatest thing about the AI was that everything worked!  Despite the injuries, illnesses and cast changes, all the performances were great. We knew that the existing repertoire would be great, but the student choreographic workshops were the big unknown – would this international casting really work? Would each cast have the time to gel and rehearse their piece and have everything come together in such a short period of time? I was so pleased when the curtain went up on the first student choreographic workshop presentation, each and every dancer on stage rose to another level. The program was one of those amazing magical moments that only live performances can bring you.

On a personal note, my work, Improvisation AI09 was a great experience for me. I had amazing dancers with whom it was a privilege to work. Although they all came from different backgrounds and different places, they came together so well and one dancer's strengths served only to highlight another's. I felt that my cast really understood the piece and were inspired by each other as we worked together – the energy in the studio was always so high and so positive. Watching my cast perform was a wonderful moment, I felt like they did everything I was hoping for and that each individual dancer shone on that stage, and I could never wish for more than that.

Day 6 in photographs

AI09 Day 8

AI09 Day 8:
Closing Reception and Party

AI09 Blog

AI09 Blog

Read our AI09 blog & check back frequently for updates.

Dear all,

Also, for every one from the Royal Conservatoire, a very successful get together in which youth and the future of dance was celebrated.

AI09 Day 8

I had already posted a thank you for everyone in the amazing building/ facilities of the NBS, but have enclosed it in case someone missed it.

Warm regards,
Wim Broeckx,
Royal Conservatory (The Hague)

Support Us
© Canadian National Ballet School 2009