Dancer Q&A: Matthieu Pagès

By Caroline Dickie
November 1, 2023

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Matthieu Pagès. Photo by Andreas Zihler.

The National Ballet of Canada is pleased to welcome Matthieu Pagès to the Corps de Ballet in the 2023/24 season. Born in Annecy, France, Matthieu trained at the Paris Opéra Ballet School and Tanz Akademie Zürich before joining the Junior Ballett Zürich after graduation. Learn more about this talented young artist in our 20 Questions series!

What inspired you to come to The National Ballet of Canada?

I’ve always been really attracted by the excellence of The National Ballet of Canada, both in the repertoire and the dancers. Many ballets in the company repertoire are on my bucket list of pieces I dream of dancing one day.

What would you have done as a career if you hadn’t pursued ballet?

I’ve always been a creative person so I probably would have stuck to the artistic field. Maybe interior design or fashion, which are two big passions in my life.

What is your work philosophy?

The harder you work, the greater the reward.

What’s the best thing about being a dancer?

There are so many things. You get to travel a lot and every day is different. But most importantly, I don’t have to go to work every day because my passion is my job.

What’s the worst?

Having the feeling that you disappointed someone even though you tried your best.

What is your favourite ballet?

I have a lot of favorite ballets for sure, but if I had to choose one, I’d pick Angels’ Atlas by Crystal Pite. Everything in this piece is just so powerful and emotional. This ballet moved me in so many ways as a student. I got the amazing chance to work on it when I joined the Junior Ballett Zürich, and I’m even more excited knowing that I’ll perform it again with the National Ballet when we tour to Ottawa in February.

What cheers you up on a bad day?

I will usually go on a walk, listen to my music, watch a movie at home, maybe call my friends or hang out with them. I just do things that make me feel safe and comfortable.

Adage or allegro?

I’m definitely more of an adage person. Even though I love big jumps, small allegro is an area I still need to improve.

What is your favorite onstage memory?

So far, my favorite onstage memory was my graduation performance. Dancing with my friends and classmates for the last time as students before starting our professional careers was definitely a memory I’ll hold in my heart forever

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Matthieu Pagès. Photo by Andreas Zihler.

Where would you like to travel but haven’t yet?

I dream of visiting Peru and Bolivia one day. The landscapes and history of these countries is so interesting to me and I really want to discover them.

What is your perfect meal?

You definitely won’t disappoint me if you offer me sushi!

What do you want to be remembered for?

I hope one day to be remembered for the work I create as a choreographer.

What’s the top item on your bucket list?

At the moment, I dream of ice skating on Lake Ontario in winter.

Have you ever had an embarrassing moment on stage?

I once had a costume issue which resulted in me dancing with my costume falling off and me tripping over it. For now, that’s the most embarrassing yet funniest moment I’ve experienced on stage...

How do you handle criticism?

I always try to make the best out of criticism. It’s a big part of our job to be corrected and pushed to be better… as long as it stays constructive and not abusive of course.

What music are you listening to right now?

I listen to a wide range of music, anything from a Shostakovich piano concerto to hard techno music. But right now, I’m enjoying the music of Hozier.

Do you have any habits you're working on breaking?

I’ve been biting my nails since I was a kid, so it is deeply ingrained. I’m trying my best to stop now because I don’t like the way my hands look.

Do you have any performance rituals or superstitions?

I always say a little personal prayer before going on stage. It turns my brain into performance mode and helps me to focus through the whole show.

What's the biggest risk you've taken, either personally or in your career?

So far, the biggest risk I’ve taken was five months ago when I decided to move alone across the Atlantic to join the National Ballet, leaving behind everything and everyone I know to start a new life from zero here in Toronto.

Could you name someone who has mentored or inspired you?

I’ve always had great admiration for Nicolas Le Riche. His dance and artistry inspire me in my work and I once had the amazing opportunity to work with him during the Prix de Lausanne Summer Intensive in 2019. His advice helped me so much and still does today.

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Matthieu Pagès and Artists of the Ballet in at Sharing the Stage. Photo by Karolina Kuras.

Learn More About Matthieu