Maude Sabourin was once a mean stepmother. Really mean. She is now a loving mother, a benevolent fairy.
Originally from Terrebonne, she danced abroad for a long time, mainly with the Ballets de Monte-Carlo. She notably interpreted the stepmother and the two wicked sisters-in-law of Cinderella. Over the next few days, she will play Cinderella’s mother and fairy godmother in the brand new production of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, alternating with Anya Nesvitaylo.
“In Jean-Christophe Maillot’s version [of the Ballets de Monte-Carlo], I was completely on the other side,” says the dancer, whom she met a few days before the grand premiere of Cinderella. They were characters who were very mean, but it’s great fun to do characters who are not very likable on stage. »
She explains that it’s all in the gestures, the looks, the attack, the dynamics used to move.
“It’s drier, sharper, it’s not lyrical. »
This time it will be softer. Especially given the version concocted by Australian choreographer Jayne Smeulders for Les Grands Ballets. Because in this version, inspired by the Cinderella of the Brothers Grimm rather than that of Charles Perrault, the fairy godmother is in fact the dead mother of little Cinderella.
“It’s the same person,” comments Maude Sabourin. I find it quite nice as a connection. There is something more intimate in the relationship, there are gestures that recur throughout the ballet, it is the spirit of his mother in the fairy godmother who reminds him not to lose hope, to have kindness, love. »
Jayne Smeulders created her vision of Cinderella in 2011 for the West Australian Ballet, under the artistic direction of Ivan Cavallari. She liked the Brothers Grimm version, especially because it used birds, a beautiful source of inspiration.
“Also, the sisters-in-law were portrayed as very beautiful on the outside, but very ugly on the inside, and that’s what I wanted,” says Jayne Smeulders. I had a lot of fun with them. Sometimes I think the ballet should be called Les Belles-sœurs rather than Cendrillon. »
Ivan Cavallari, now artistic director of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, asked Jayne Smeulders to stage Cendrillon again for the Montreal company.
She notably added additional roles in the magic garden scene.
“Everything looks very different because it’s new sets and new costumes,” she continues. The sets and costumes of the original production were tied to a specific era. Here, the ballet is not anchored in a specific period, the 1930s or 1940s. It is rather timeless, magical. »
It is a Quebecer from Sept-Îles, Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt, who designed the costumes for this new Cinderella.
She trained in fashion design before studying at the Quebec Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in scenography.
“In third year, we had a guest teacher named Robert Lepage,” she says. Before I even got out of school, he approached me to do a costume design for him at the NAC [National Arts Center in Ottawa]. »
There was the Old Lady’s Visit, then The Seven Branches of the Ōta River.
“My collaboration with Robert brought us to Cirque du Soleil for Kâ,” she continues. I loved this experience because I create well under constraint, whether it is physical or technical constraints. »
Cinderella is her first classical ballet.
This is how she questioned the famous wand of the fairy godmother.
“When you see her coming, there’s already a magic because of her costume, you don’t have to go there with a wand. »
She is delighted that Les Grands Ballets is calling on designers from Quebec, like her and the scenographer Simon Guilbault.
“I hope it will become a tradition to have at least one production per year drawn here, created here. »
Maude Sabourin is delighted to dance this classic in Quebec, at home.
“There are people coming who haven’t seen me dance since I was little,” she says. When there’s someone you know in the room, it’s not the same. »