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Updated: Nov 7, 2023


n this third week of the residency working on VANISHING MÉLODIES, we spoke with ballet master Jeremy Raïa, who has been involved in all phases of the work. Who better to shed insights on this exciting project? Jeremy also discusses his creative vision and role in the work and at BJM.

In your view, what is the purpose of a residency at this point in the creative process?

At this point of the creation, the residency will be the time when we put everything together to create the production. It’s now that all the creatives put their work in the same pot to finish the beautiful recipe. The Creative Director, choreographers, lighting and costume designers and, most importantly, the dancers, alongside countless others, have worked together, but mostly separately to refine their ingredients.

What does a typical day in a creative residency look like?

A typical day during the residency, will include spacing the artists on the scene, building the lights, working and evolving the choreography to make sure it showcases the artists and suits the dramaturgy of the show. It’s not necessarily the most glamorous part, but it is one of the most important time periods of the process.

Can you explain your role in the creation of VANISHING MÉLODIES, from the very beginning in the studio on a daily basis as well as during this residency?

In the beginning, I am there to help the choreographers work with our dancers. This includes everything from playing the music, taking dancers separately to work on steps that were just made, create counts for the steps etc. This then expands in to rehearsing the dancers in what was created, training them to be able to do the choreography in the best way they can, coaching them to keep or find the intention the choreographer wants. My goal, and probably favourite thing, is to get the dancers to a place where they have the freedom to find their own journey to come to the place the creators want, which, in turn, inspires evolution in the creation. As we continue to the second part of building the production, I add other elements to my work. Making sure the dancers are in the right lighting and spacing, making sure they are aware of any changes choreographically and then learning these elements myself for staging when we tour the production. I also will be a representative for the dancers if there are elements that come up during the construction that, perhaps, don’t allow them to do the choreography in the best way etc.

In your opinion, what qualities are essential for a good ballet master?

In my opinion, the most important qualities of a ballet master are…a good listener, a good conductor, passionate, honest and humble.

If you had to describe your costumes in 3 words, what would they be?

The creation, so far, in 3 words…different, theatrical, textured.

Were you familiar with Patrick Watson’s work before VANISHING MÉLODIES? What about his work inspires you?

Of course, I knew the work of Patrick Watson before. There’s a playlist I made years ago still on my phone entitled “warm-up/choreography/improv”. It includes a few of Patrick’s songs. His music lends itself very well to dance and emotionally it can take you so many places. I would get lost in it before a performance to prepare me for the journey I was about to go on. I think it’s so special that the Artists of BJM get to have it as one of the narratives for the actual journey on stage.

As you know, the company is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. What do you hope the next 50 years will hold?

As BJM turns 50, I think VANISHING MÉLODIES is a beautiful way, not only to celebrate those past 50 years, but also start the adventure towards the next 50. Together with the music of a Montrealer, a new Artistic Directress, who danced in BJM and the versatile artists of the company, I think there is something to really look forward to. I am glad to be a part of it and will try my best to use my experience to help everyone find their wings.



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