Dancers rehearsing at Lachine Canal ahead of Quartiers Danses festival

·2 min read
Two dancers gather at the Gédéon-de-Catalogne park along the Lachine Canal. (Kwabena Oduro/CBC - image credit)
Two dancers gather at the Gédéon-de-Catalogne park along the Lachine Canal. (Kwabena Oduro/CBC - image credit)

A local dance festival is once again using a park along the Lachine Canal in Saint-Henri to bring the art closer to the public.

After a successful pilot project at Gédéon-de-Catalogne park last year the rehearsals are now here to stay.

Choreographers and dance companies will be rehearsing in the park every week in preparation for the Festival Quartiers Danses running from Sept. 7 and 18.

Pauline Gervais, a contemporary dancer, was rehearsing at the park alongside her dance partner on Saturday.

"It's the best feeling in the world, it's my passion, it's what I need to do to express myself," said Gervais, a graduate of the École supérieure de ballet du Québec.

The pilot project last summer was born out of the pandemic, when there were limits on gathering indoors, she said. It was tough for the dancer of over 20 years.

"For a while we weren't able to do what we love and for us that was devastating," said Gervais, who also owns her own dance company.

"Festival Quartiers Danses giving us the opportunity to dance, do our passion, show it to the public, just be ourselves… It's just such a privilege."

Kwabena Oduro/CBC
Kwabena Oduro/CBC

The executive and artistic director of the festival says his aim is to democratize dance by making it more accessible to the public through free shows and modestly priced tickets.

"We needed to have a platform to put in the light the dancers and choreographers," Rafik Hubert Sabbagh said.

Fifteen Quebec choreographers and companies will be showcasing their talents, with the opening ballet show at the Maisonneuve theater at Place des Arts costing only $20, he said.

It's Sophia El-Iraki's second year performing at the festival.

"It's a really beautiful thing to be able to dance in public because dance is all about sharing," she said.

Kwabena Oduro/CBC
Kwabena Oduro/CBC

El-Iraki's originally from Morocco but fell in love with Bollywood dancing when she was approached by Veils of Bollywood, a dance company based in Montreal.

"I feel there's some similarities in the culture, in the music, in the dance and I feel the connection deep inside," El-Iraki said.

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