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Tuesday, April 23 2013

Les Grands Ballets launch the National Centre for Dance Therapy

Montreal, April 23, 2013 – Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal are pleased to announce the creation of the National Centre for Dance Therapy. The first  phase of operations involves four pilot projects conducted in association with four university health centres: the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal (IUGM), the PERFORM Centre of Concordia University, the Centre hospitalier universitaire (CHU) Saint-Justine and the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM). The Centre pursues three objectives: to promote the beneficial effects of dance on the well-being of individuals, to offer new career opportunities to professional dancers in transition and to support the work of health care providers.

Part of Grands Ballets’ broader vision, this initiative will use dance to promote the health and well-being of individuals. The first project of its kind to be conceived and implemented  by a cultural company, the National Centre for Dance Therapy is also the only one in the world offering three interconnected services: dance and movement therapy, clinical research, and Canada’s first graduate-level dance therapy training program.

“By bringing together a variety of experts and leaders in their fields, the National Centre for Dance Therapy will allow Les Grands Ballets to take on an important socio-economic role, in addition to their cultural role,” affirms Christian Sénéchal, Director of the National Centre for Dance Therapy.

The first pilot project, undertaken by the IUGM research centre and PERFORM Centre of Concordia University, is supported by a $285,000 grant from Quebec’s Ministry of Health and Social Services. “This partnership will help us to identify research strategies in health, health care and intervention that are innovative, effective and appropriate for the elderly,” explains Marie-France Simard, Director General of IUGM. This collaborative project involving hundreds of elderly people will attempt to determine whether dance therapy can reduce the harmful effects of aging and improve both physical and mental health. “The research I have conducted with elderly patients has demonstrated the numerous benefits of exercise on the heart and brain,” affirms Dr. Louis Bherer, Research Director at IUGM and Scientific Director of the PERFORM Centre of Concordia University. “I am greatly looking forward to this opportunity to collaborate with Les Grands Ballets and to study the potential benefits of dance therapy on the cognitive and physiological functions of the elderly.”

An agreement in principle has been reached with CHU Sainte-Justine regarding pilot projects aimed at integrating dance/ movement therapists into multidisciplinary medical teams. The two organizations are also developing a health care protocol with the ambulatory care unit for teenagers with eating disorders. “The dance therapy projects reflect the kind of humanized, innovative and high-quality health care that lies at the heart of the various missions of CHU Sainte-Justine,”  explains Dr. Fabrice Brunet, Chief Executive Officer of the Sainte-Justine University Health Centre. “A partnership with Les Grands Ballets will allow us to remain in the vanguard of research and to make use of the best procedures in this field.”

The National Centre for Dance Therapy, together with CHUM’s Direction de la qualité, de la promotion de la santé et de l’expérience patient, are working to ascertain which groups are most likely to benefit from dance and movement therapy. “At CHUM we believe that opening the door to art is an excellent way to humanize health care,” declares Christian Paire, Chief Executive Officer of CHUM. “Which is why we are pleased to support this approach, whose aim is to better meet the overall needs of our patients, allowing them to act directly upon their own health.”

Discussions are underway with Canadian universities in order to establish the first graduate program in dance therapy in Canada. In the meantime, an agreement has been reached with the 92nd Street y – Harkness Dance Center in New York to offer a training program recognized by the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA). The first group of graduate students will be recruited in Montreal beginning in September 2013 for a three-semester program starting in July 2014 and ending in the summer of 2015.

“The National Centre for Dance Therapy will raise our public profile, while conveying our values of openness, creativity, boldness and innovation,” enthuses Alain Dancyger, Executive Director of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal. “With our broader vision, we hope to demonstrate that dance, owing to its beneficial effects on our well-being, is relevant in ways that go beyond culture.”

The launch of the National Centre for Dance Therapy will take place during the National Dance Week and the Québec Danse event. After 56 years of existence, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal are beginning a new phase of their evolution, in which dance will both transform and celebrate the individual.

For information

Sheila Skaiem
Communications Manager
(514) 849-8681 ext. 239

About Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal
Since their  foundation  in  1957, Les Grands Ballets  Canadiens de Montréal  continue  to  enrich  Montréal  with  their programming that is contemporary and at the same time faithful to the spirit of classical ballet. Gradimir Pankov’s arrival as Artistic Director in 2000 further spurred Les Grands Ballets’ evolution as a company committed to creation and dedicated to contemporary ballet. Since then, the company has toured the United States, Middle East, Europe and Asia. Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal are a hothouse for new talent, embodying innovation and daring.  Praised by critics around the world, the company offers an alternative vision of the world through dance: one that is more emotional, theatrical, and exciting than ever.

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