by Brendan Saye

by Brendan Saye


Loneliness has been called the scourge of contemporary life and is the frequent target of our collective fear and aversion. These feelings have heightened during the pandemic as we all spend more time alone. However, there is also beauty in loneliness, even serenity and power. Principal Dancer Brendan Saye explores these complexities in a new work he created specifically for film, set to the unforgettable music of Philip Glass.

Five Things to Know
  1. 1Shadowlands is a piece for 11 dancers, whom Brendan worked with in “pods” – small groups that have been training and rehearsing together safely since the dancers returned to the studio.
  2. 2Brendan creates Shadowlands specifically for film and the medium informs the choreography. He sought to involve the camera and lighting as equal participants with the dancers as they move through space.
  3. 3Shadowlands is set to a suite of music by Philip Glass that also features in the 2002 film soundtrack for The Hours, starring Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore. The soundtrack won a BAFTA Award for Best Film Music.
  4. 4Philip Glass discovered music by listening to records in his father’s radio repair shop. Today, he is one of the most influential figures in modern classical music. His oeuvre includes several pieces for dance, including In the Upper Room, choreographed by Twyla Tharp.
  5. 5Brendan’s previous works include Grey Verses, which he created for the National Ballet’s Choreographic Workshop in 2018 and toured to London, England in 2019. Grey Verses was performed by ABT Studio Company in 2019 and was filmed for release in February 2021 as part of their digital season.
Brendan Saye

Brendan Saye in rehearsal. Photo by Karolina Kuras.

The Choreographer

Born in Vancouver, Brendan Saye joined The National Ballet of Canada as an RBC Apprentice in 2008 and was promoted to Principal Dancer in 2019. He performs lead roles throughout the classical and contemporary repertoires, including the title role in Apollo and A Man in The Four Seasons. He is also establishing himself as a choreographer.

The Composer

American composer and pianist Philip Glass has had a significant impact on contemporary classical music. He is celebrated for his operas, symphonies, ensemble pieces, film scores and wide-ranging collaborations with such artists as Paul Simon, Allen Ginsberg and David Bowie.


Brendan Saye

Philip Glass

The National Ballet of Canada Wardrobe Department

Lighting Designer:
The National Ballet of Canada Production Department, Jeff Logue

Brendan Saye is sponsored through Dancers First by Robin Vaile Robinson.

World Premiere: The National Ballet of Canada, Toronto, ON

Lead philanthropic support for Spotlight Series is provided by The Walter Carsen New Creations Fund, with additional support from the Producers' Circle.

The Producers’ Circle: Gail & Mark Appel, John & Claudine Bailey, Inger Bartlett & Marshal Stearns, Laura Dinner & Richard Rooney, Gail Drummond & Bob Dorrance, The Thor E. and Nicole Eaton Family Charitable Foundation, Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan, Kevin Garland & Roger Garland, C.M., Ira Gluskin & Maxine Granovsky Gluskin, The William & Nona Heaslip Foundation, Anna McCowan Johnson & Donald K. Johnson, O.C., Judy Korthals & Peter Irwin, Mona & Harvey Levenstein, Jerry & Joan Lozinski, The Honourable Margaret Norrie McCain, C.C., Julie Medland, Sandra Pitblado & Jim Pitblado, C.M., The Harry & Lillian Seymour Family Foundation, Gerald Sheff & Shanitha Kachan and The Jack Weinbaum Family Foundation.

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