The Dance Current
Persisting through an apprenticeship full of obstacles
IT’S EVERY YOUNG DANCER’S DREAM: TO GRADUATE DANCE SCHOOL and join a professional company.
But for Tatiana Lerebours, realizing that dream came earlier than expected. While still a student at L’École supérieure de ballet du Québec, she performed in The Nutcracker with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal. Hearing that Artistic Director Ivan Cavallari was pleased with her performance, Lerebours says she approached him for constructive notes “so that when I graduated, I might be ready to join the company,” she says. It turns out she already was. The next summer, in July 2019, she joined the company as an apprentice, a year before completing her training. >>
It was a season of firsts: her first company contract, her first tour and her first time in Europe – the tour took her to Barcelona in September 2019. She’s had the opportunity to dance roles that she’s always imagined performing. And then, something completely unexpected happened: COVID-19 temporarily shuttered Les Grands Ballets, along with theatres around the world.
It’s been disappointing, Lerebours acknowledges. An apprenticeship is a pivotal transition from student to professional: a year of growth, exposure to established dancers and an opportunity to earn a future spot in the company’s corps. She says she was excited to perform Sleeping Beauty at the end of her first season, but the show has now been pushed to 2021.
Unfortunately, the pandemic isn’t the first obstacle Lerebours encountered during her apprenticeship. With the excitement of joining the company came additional pressures and rigours, and she ended up spraining her ankle during her first week. She unfortunately missed the first production of her apprenticeship, but she soon recovered and continued to feel fully welcomed by the company. “I have insecurities about my dancing, of course,” she says, “but I’ve never felt judged,” or as though company members questioned whether she was too young or inexperienced, she adds. Joining Les Grands Ballets with three friends from L’École supérieure also provided extra camaraderie and support.
After the rocky start to her apprentice year, Lerebours chooses to stay positive in light of the unexpected changes we’ve all had to face. The company is in close contact with dancers and quickly sent out dance mats to facilitate at-home training. In April, she taught her first-ever ballet class through Les Grands Ballets’ Instagram account. She remains motivated by the creativity of dancers around the world and how they’re staying performance-ready during an unprecedented ballet season. Knowing that everyone is in the same position “makes it a little easier,” she says.
Despite the interruption, Lerebours is constantly learning and growing as a dancer, and she has an exacting memory for feedback that she intends to work on. “I’ve been told I use every muscle I have to do a tendu, which isn’t necessary; it’s a source of pain and injury. That really stuck with me,” she says. During COVID-19, she’s refining her bodily understanding to dance more efficiently. She’s eager to absorb as much information as possible, and she enjoys learning from her peers, which currently means watching performance videos and interviews and applying comments to improve her own dancing. Whether in studio or at home, Lerebours is taking advantage of every available resource to develop her craft – the perfect mindset for a promising apprentice.