Frame by Frame

Frame by Frame


Under the inspired direction of Robert Lepage, the legendary Québécois playwright, actor, film and stage director, 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 offers a series of vignettes about McLaren’s life and work, interspersed with footage from his groundbreaking films.

Frame by Frame Who's Who

Five Things to Know
  1. 1Frame by Frame is the result of a close collaboration between two of Canada’s most esteemed artists: Robert Lepage and Guillaume Côté. The concept was several years in the making, and evolved in a series of workshops with Lepage’s multidisciplinary production company, Ex Machina. Frame by Frame will tour internationally to London and Paris in April 2021.
  2. 2Norman McLaren is widely recognized for the ingenuity and aesthetic brilliance of his short films, which often aired between programs on Canadian television. Among his many awards are an Oscar for Best Short Documentary in 1952 for Neighbours and a 1969 BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film for Pas de deux.
  3. 3Frame by Frame brings McLaren’s films to life with a unique blend of dance and technology, including live camera work. Key figures and episodes from McLaren’s life move through this visual landscape, including his relationship with National Film Board producer Guy Glover and his work with fellow animation pioneer, Evelyn Lambart.
  4. 4Norman McLaren loved ballet and created several dance films, including the 1968 short Pas de deux, reenacted beautifully and on an enormous scale in Frame by Frame. Guillaume Côté, who provided the choreography for Frame by Frame, is also fascinated by dance and film, and created two popular dance shorts: Lost in Motion I and II.  
  5. 5Lepage cites McLaren as a creative influence, saying, “There is something very pure about his vocabulary and very accessible and very universal. I’ve always related to that because I am desperately looking for simple things, resources, ideas that can speak to a universal or international audience.”

Frame by Frame

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 and Le Petit Prince, his first full-length ballet. Mr. Côté is also 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.


“Guillaume Côté and Robert Lepage have succeeded in creating an exceptional work for The National Ballet of Canada rich in its choreographic voice and profound in showcasing McLaren’s personal passions for dance, his relationships with his collaborators and the love of his life, Guy Glover.” — Chroniques de Danse

“Haunting beauty… an example of how film and dance can blend on stage in magically fruitful way it is an altogether remarkable piece of work.” — Dancing Times

Frame by Frame is a work of genius… a tour-de-force of astonishment… one of the greatest ballets ever made in Canada/fait au Canada. It is a masterpiece.” — Ludwig van


Directed by:
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

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.

The Producers’ Circle: Gail & Mark Appel, John & Claudine Bailey, Inger Bartlett & Marshal Stearns, Susanne Boyce & Brendan Mullen, Gail Drummond & Bob Dorrance, The Thor E. and Nicole Eaton Family Charitable Foundation, Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan, Kevin Garland & Roger Garland, C.M., Emmanuelle Gattuso, C.M. and Allan Slaight, C.M., Ira Gluskin & Maxine Granovsky Gluskin, The William & Nona Heaslip Foundation, Rosamond Ivey, Hal Jackman Foundation, Anna McCowan Johnson & Donald K. Johnson, O.C., Judy Korthals & Peter Irwin, Judith & Robert Lawrie, Mona & Harvey Levenstein, Jerry & Joan Lozinski, The Honourable Margaret Norrie McCain, C.C., Julie Medland, Sandra Pitblado & Jim Pitblado, C.M., Lynda & Jonas Prince, Susan Scace & Arthur Scace, C.M., Q.C., Gerald Sheff & Shanitha Kachan, Sandra Simpson and Noreen Taylor, C.M. & David Staines, C.M., O.Ont.

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