Frame by Frame
Robert Lepage and Guillaume Côté

Frame by Frame
Robert Lepage and Guillaume Côté

Please Note: Strobe-like lighting effects are used in several scenes in this production.


A truly multi-disciplinary experience, Frame by Frame sees legendary theatre director Robert Lepage collaborating with choreographer Guillaume Côté in an exceptional work that explores the life of 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. Frame by Frame brings McLaren’s films to life with a riveting mix of dance and technology, including live camera work, interspersed with footage from his ground-breaking films.

Frame by Frame Trailer

Five Things to Know
  1. 1Frame by Frame is the result of a close collaboration between two of Canada’s most esteemed artists: Guillaume Côté and Robert Lepage. The concept was several years in the making and evolved in a series of workshops with Lepage’s multidisciplinary production company, Ex Machina.
  2. 2McLaren is celebrated for the ingenuity and aesthetic brilliance of his short films. He won an Oscar for Best Short Documentary in 1952 for Neighbours and a 1969 BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film for Pas de deux.
  3. 3Lepage has said of McLaren: “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.”
  4. 4Frame by Frame brings McLaren’s films to life with a riveting mix of dance and technology, including live camera work. Key episodes from McLaren’s life move through this visual landscape, such as his relationship with National Film Board producer Guy Glover and his work with fellow animation pioneer, Evelyn Lambart.
  5. 5McLaren loved ballet and produced several dance films. Côté also experiments with dance and technology and, in 2020, his film Lulu won Best International Short Film at the Milan International Film Festival. In 2021, Côté created Touch, an immersive dance experience fusing multimedia projections with original choreography in a 360 degree interactive performance space.
Watch and Explore

Frame by Frame: Choreographer Guillaume Côté

Frame by Frame: Director Robert Lepage

Frame by Frame: Who Was Norman McLaren?

Ballet Moments: Frame by Frame

Frame by Frame View Gallery

Read: The Art of Frame by Frame

Read: The Life and Works of Norman McLaren

The Creators

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 FractalsBeing and Nothingness and Le Petit Prince, his first full-length ballet. Côté is also Artistic Director of the Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur.

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.

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 such as 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 a 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 

Running Time

  • Act I 1h
  • Intermission 20m
  • Act II 1h
  • Total (approx) 2h 20m


Robert Lepage

Guillaume Côté

Creative Direction and Design:
Steve Blanchet

Assistant Director:
Adèle Saint-Amand

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 / Mirari

Props Design:
Claudia Gendreau

World Premiere: The National Ballet of Canada, Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto, 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.

The 2023 restaging of Frame by Frame is generously supported by Valerie and Hunter Thompson in honour of Kiki Delaney.

The Producers’ Circle (2018): 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 Lozinski, O.C. & Joan Lozinski, O.C., The Honourable Margaret Norrie McCain, C.C., Julie Medland, Sandra Pitblado, C.M. & 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. 

The National Ballet of Canada gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the following:

Running Time

  • Act I 1h
  • Intermission 20m
  • Act II 1h
  • Total (approx) 2h 20m

Email Newsletter

Be the first to know when casting is announced by signing up for Ballet News.

Sign Up Today

Delve Deeper

Visit our News Hub for a more in-depth look at all of our productions.

Visit News Hub

Ballet Talks

The National Ballet invites you to attend the Ballet Talk 45 minutes before every performance in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.