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INTERVIEW WITH MARIE CHANTALE VAILLANCOURT: COSTUME DESIGNER FOR VANISHING MÉLODIES

Updated: Nov 7, 2023



VANISHING MÉLODIES brings together multiple talented creators and artists to tell a powerful story in unison, using their respective art forms to transport the audience. We spoke with costume designer Marie Chantale Vaillancourt, who invites us to dive into her world and discover what inspires her for this creation.

What is your process for creating costumes from scratch for a work?


It usually starts with a meeting or call with the director and/or choreographer to discuss the show’s artistic direction and our own inspirations. I always need to see the dancers move at the beginning of the process; being able to follow the evolution of the choreographic work really inspires me. It lets me identify the right intention to steer my image research for my inspiration boards, which feed the costume sketches I present to the artistic team.


The rest flows from there: choice of fabrics, meetings with the artisans who will make the costumes, fittings, validations and then costume rehearsals and adjustments as needed until the premiere!

What things do you need to take into consideration when creating costumes for dance?


Movement, movement and… movement! The costume obviously needs to let the dancer move freely without constraint. It has to be technically adapted to the work – neither too slippery nor too sticky – and especially not too hot. It should also sublimate the body and amplify the expression and subtleties of the choreography.

What are the most important qualities in a good costume designer?


Beyond imagination and technical knowledge, you need to enjoy working with bodies in motion. They are the raw materials we use to create characters – long before fabrics come into play. You also have to be humble. You are at the service of the work, so you have to listen to its needs. Good dialogue between the costume designer, the choreographers and the director in this particular case on the one hand, and with the dancers on the other hand, is essential.

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


Fluid, enveloping, poetic

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


I admire Patrick Watson’s work immensely and have had the pleasure of seeing him perform on several occasions. When I draw, his music is always on my playlist. I like the intimacy and intensity of his universe. It draws me in.

What does it mean to design costumes for BJM?


It means I not only have the pleasure of creating for BJM, but I get to do so at the invitation of Eric Jean for a show inspired by music that touches me deeply. It’s an honour I couldn’t refuse!

What are your aspirations for VANISHING MÉLODIES and for your future as a costume designer?


I hope VANISHING MÉLODIES will touch the audience just as deeply as Patrick Watson’s music does, by plunging us in an evocative universe swimming with dreamy emotions.


As for me, I hope to continue working on other stimulating projects like these with dream teams for a long time to come… what more could you ask for?

As you know, the Company is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Any wishes for BJM for the next 50 years?


I wish BJM recognition and continuity, as well as the means to match the quality of its complex and sought-after yet always accessible creations. May its works be appreciated by loyal and growing audiences, curious about and touched by the rich worlds the Company explores.


I wish it many wonderful years of creation punctuated by success on the road to its 100th anniversary: here’s to a long and creative life to BJM, and to a festive 50th!


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