A World Premiere by Vanesa G. R. Montoya
by Caroline Dickie
August 6, 2021

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Vanesa G. R. Montoya. Photo by Michael Slobodian.

The National Ballet of Canada’s summer engagement at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre includes an exciting new work by Vanesa G. R. Montoya, who is making her choreographic debut with the company. As Principal Dancer with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, Vanesa performs a wide range of classical and contemporary works, and her choreographic style reflects her versatility as a performer.

“I consider myself more of a contemporary dancer than a ballet dancer, although I have a strong school in both styles. That’s why I like to mix both when I choreograph. I really like the athleticism of contemporary dance, the feeling of being strong and grounded, but with the elegance and lyricism of ballet technique.”

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Vanesa G. R. Montoya in Reflexion. Photo by Matthew Richardson.

Vanesa was born in Madrid and completed her dance studies in Spain before joining Compañía Nacional de Danza 2. She danced briefly with Ballet de l’Opéra du Rhin in France, where she met her husband – a Canadian – and joined Les Grands Ballets in 2006.

This is Vanesa’s first creation for the National Ballet, but she collaborated previously with three of the company’s dancers, Principal Dancers Sonia Rodriguez and Piotr Stancyzk, and First Soloist Spencer Hack, on a new piece for Fall for Dance North 2020, Poema Ibérico.

“I was totally amazed by these incredible artists and their beauty,” Vanesa says. “Karen Kain and Christopher Stowell saw the piece and seemed to like it, and by the end of the fall they had offered me this wonderful opportunity.”

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Vanesa G. R. Montoya. Photo by Michael Slobodian.

The inspiration for her new work, titled Crepuscular (meaning "occurring or active during twilight") comes from her observations of moonlight. “I’m inspired by the spirituality and enigmatic side of night and the emotions it elicits – peace, solitude, fear, reflection. I experienced many of these during the pandemic, going through lockdowns and spending endless nights trying to take it all in.”

The piece is set to the music of Chopin, including parts of his dreamy Nocturnes. A self-described “fan of classical music,” Vanesa chose the music for its emotion, lyricism and power, to reflect the movement quality she seeks. “The piece is going to be very romantic, that’s for sure!”

Learn more about Sharing the Stage at Harbourfront Centre >

Hear from Vanesa as she speaks about her new work on Monday, August 9 at 6:30 pm at Harbourfront Centre. Sharing the Stage Conversations >

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