Trailblazers honours the work of Canadian innovators with excerpts from Guillaume Côté's moving collaboration with Robert Lepage, Frame by Frame, Aszure Barton’s mesmerizing ballet Watch her and Marie Chouinard’s refreshing 24 Preludes by Chopin. All were created or acquired during Karen Kain’s tenure as Artistic Director, part of her commitment to expand the repertoire to include exciting new work by Canadian artists. The live performance footage in this film was captured before the pandemic.

Frame by Frame

Heather Ogden in Frame by Frame. Photo by Karolina Kuras.

Frame by Frame

Under the direction of Robert Lepage, Frame by Frame pays homage to Canadian filmmaker Norman McLaren, whose pioneering advancements in animation led to a prolific career with the National Film Board of Canada and influenced filmmakers worldwide. With choreography by Principal Dancer and Choreographic Associate Guillaume Côté, Frame by Frame premiered in 2018 as a series of vignettes on McLaren’s life and work, interspersed with footage from his ground-breaking films.

Things to Know
The Creators

Robert Lepage is one of Canada’s most versatile and esteemed theatre artists. His original approach to theatre has won him international acclaim, particularly for his use of new technologies. He is the recipient of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement and was made a Companion of the Order of Canada.

Guillaume Côté joined The National Ballet of Canada in 1998. He became a Principal Dancer in 2004 and was appointed Choreographic Associate in 2013. His choreographic works include Fractals, Being and Nothingness, Le Petit Prince and the short film, Lulu. Guillaume is Artistic Director of the Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur.

The Composer

Antoine Bédard is a Canadian musician specializing in electronic music, which he records under the name Montag. He has released several albums, toured internationally and collaborated with theatre directors and choreographers including Robert Lepage, Chris Abraham and Dana Michel.

Watch her

Jenna Savella and Jonathan Renna in Watch her. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

Watch her

A large cast of dancers performs this rich and haunting work by Edmonton-born Aszure Barton, created for The National Ballet of Canada in 2009. From the singular experiences of watching and being observed, Watch her spirals out to encompass gothic-like themes of obsession, miscommunication, mystery and fear. With tailored, monochrome costumes by Yannik Larivée and music by Lera Auerbach, Watch her externalizes the psychology of watching in a choreographic language that is detailed, arresting and complex.

Things to Know
The Choreographer

Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Aszure Barton is a graduate of Canada’s National Ballet School. Barton tours globally with her international dance project, Aszure Barton & Artists. As a choreographer she has created works for Mikhail Baryshnikov, American Ballet Theatre, Teatro alla Scala, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, English National Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater among many others. As an educator, Barton has taught at the Juilliard School, Harvard University and is currently a faculty member at the Glorya Kaufman School of Dance at the University of Southern California.

The Composer

A renaissance artist for modern times, Russian-born Lera Auerbach is a widely recognized conductor, pianist, and composer. She is also a published poet and an exhibited visual artist. Auerbach has become one of today’s most sought after and exciting creative voices. Her performances and music are featured on the world’s leading stages – from Vienna’s Musikverein and London’s Royal Albert Hall to New York’s Carnegie Hall and Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center. In 2007, The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland selected her as a Young Global Leader and since 2014, she serves as a Cultural Leader.

24 Preludes

Sonia Rodriguez with Artists of the Ballet in 24 Preludes by Chopin. Photo by Bruce Zinger.

24 Preludes by Chopin

One of the world’s great innovators in contemporary ballet, Montréal’s Marie Chouinard created 24 Preludes by Chopin in 1999 as a response to Frédéric Chopin’s famous cycle of 24 Preludes for solo piano, Opus 28. By turns playful and melancholic, and imbued with a punk aesthetic, 24 Preludes by Chopin evokes the spirit of Chopin’s music in a series of solos, duets and ensemble pieces combining lyricism, humour, solemnity and strength. The National Ballet of Canada first performed an expanded version of 24 Preludes by Chopin in 2008.

Things to Know
The Choreographer

Solo performer and choreographer Marie Chouinard is the Executive and Artistic Director of Compagnie Marie Chouinard, which performs her bold, iconoclastic works all over the world. Among her many honours and awards are the Ordre national du Québec in 2015 and The Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement in 2016.

The Composer

Romantic composer Frédéric Chopin wrote some of the greatest piano music of the 19th century. Born in Poland in 1810, he later moved to Paris where he composed almost exclusively for piano. His nocturnes for solo piano are among his most famous works.


Frame by Frame

Norman McLarenPioneering animator and filmmaker
Jack Bertinshaw

Guy GloverMcLaren's life partner
Félix Paquet

Heather Ogden
Harrison James

Artists of the Ballet

Kathryn Hosier, Tanya Howard, Alexandra MacDonald, Heather Ogden, Jenna Savella, Jillian Vanstone

Margaret MercierCelebrated actress and featured dancer in McLaren’s film Pas de deux
Heather Ogden

Vincent WarrenFeatured dancer in McLaren’s film Pas de deux, collaborator on McLaren’s film Narcissus
Harrison James

The Musicians of The National Ballet of Canada Orchestra

Watch her

Sonia Rodriguez
Xiao Nan Yu
Jenna Savella

Artists of the Ballet

The Musicians of The National Ballet of Canada Orchestra

Violin Soloist
Aaron Schwebel

Viola Soloist
Angela Rudden

Marimba Soloist
Tim Francom

24 Preludes by Chopin

Guillaume Côté
Tanya Howard
Matjash Mrozewski
Marissa Parzei
Rebekah Rimsay
Brett van Sickle

Artists of the Ballet

Piano Soloist
Jean-François Latour


Frame by Frame

Robert Lepage

Guillaume Côté

Creative Direction and Design:
Steve Blanchet

Music and Sound Design:
Antoine Bédard

Set Design:
Christian Fontaine

Costume Design:
Michael Gianfrancesco

Lighting Design:
Étienne Boucher

Image Projection Concept Design:
Laurie Shawn Borzovoy

Video Design:
Thomas Payette / HUB Studio

Props Design:
Claudia Gendreau

Assistant Director:
Adèle Saint-Amand

Assistant to the Choreographer:
Anne Mueller

Ex Machina Production

Technical Consultants:
Catherine Guay and Tobie Hoswill

Technical Director:
Paul Bourque

Assistant Technical Director:
Jean-François Piché

Production Director:
Vanessa Landry-Claverie

Michel Bernatchez

National Film Board of Canada Special Project Team

Special Projects Manager:
Cecilia Ramirez

Project Coordinator:
Catherine Benoît

Special Project Advisory Committee:
René Bourdages, Marc Bertrand and Donald McWilliams

Jérôme Dufour, James Roberts and Lily Robert

World Premiere: The National Ballet of Canada, June 1, 2018

Frame by Frame is a collaboration between The National Ballet of Canada, Ex Machina and the National Film Board of Canada.

Co-produced by Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London, UK.

Lead philanthropic support for Frame by Frame is generously provided by The Walter Carsen New Creations Fund, with additional support from First Plazas Inc. in memory of Avie Bennett, The Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation, Rosamond Ivey, The Hal Jackman Foundation and The Producers’ Circle.  

Watch her

Aszure Barton

Lera Auerbach, Dialogues on Stabat Mater (after G.B Pergolesi)

Set and Costume Design:
Yannik Larivée

Lighting Design:
Christopher Dennis

Peter Ottmann and Rex Harrington

*Created in collaboration with the Artists of the Ballet

Premiere: The National Ballet of Canada, November 25, 2009

Watch her is generously supported by Walter Carsen, O.C.

24 Preludes by Chopin

Marie Chouinard, O.C.

Frédéric Chopin

Costume Design:
Liz Vandal

Make-up Design:
Jacques-Lee Pelletier

Lighting Design:
Axel Morgenthaler

Peter Ottmann

Premiere: Compagnie Marie Chouinard, TanzWochen Wien Festival, Austria, July 30,1999
The National Ballet of Canada Premiere: March 8, 2008

24 Preludes by Chopin is a gift from The Volunteer Committee, The National Ballet of Canada.

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.

The National Ballet Orchestra is supported by the TD Bank Group Orchestra Fund and by members of the Music Circle. 

The Music Circle: John & Claudine Bailey, Nani & Austin Beutel, Peter & Eleanor Daniels, Jeanie A. Davis, Indra & Rags Davloor, The Thor E. Eaton and Nicole Eaton Family Charitable Foundation, Mary & Graham Hallward, William & Ruth Herridge, Anne & Charles Morison, Sandra Pitblado & Jim Pitblado, C.M., John & Susan Rose, Gretchen Ross & Donald Ross, O.C., Noreen Taylor, C.M., & David Staines, C.M., O.Ont. and The Mary-Margaret Webb Foundation.

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