Groupe Nouvelle Aire, Le
Le Groupe Nouvelle Aire (GNA) was a contemporary dance company founded in Montréal in 1968. The project was started at the physical education department at Université de Montréal by Rose-Marie Lèbe and Martine Époque, two professors originally from France. Among their collaborators was a group of students from an extra-curricular dance activity they initiated at the university.
Martine Époque quickly became the mentor of the troupe, whose mandate was to create an innovative and fundamentally "Québécois" dance vocabulary, as well as promoting its pedagogy. Within a short period of time, the GNA added a scholarship and apprentice program to support the company. It also provided open classes and workshops of a variety of styles that were welcomed by many eager Montréal dancers.
Initially, only a few of the GNA's dancers were at a professional level, and those with a formal training in classical ballet were uncommon. Most of the company members came from different backgrounds; several dancers had an academic degree in physical education, others in literature and/or theatre. This diversity stimulated them to question the creative process, and over time, GNA became a place of inspiration for a new generation of Québec dancers and choreographers. Among them were Paul-André FORTIER, Édouard LOCK, Ginette LAURIN, Louise LECAVALIER and Daniel Léveillé.
During the early years the majority of choreographies were created by Martine Époque, whose style, with its remarkable musical and rhythmic sensibility, requires excellent body control and includes difficult floor work. Later, Paul Lapointe, one of the company's dancers, also created some memorable pieces in 1972-73. In addition to its performances, and collaborations with Québec composers, artists and TV producers, GNA was active in the community. Its "Choréchanges" dance demonstrations were presented in their studios and followed by discussions with the public, and the company also performed special dance programs in schools across Québec.
Le Groupe Nouvelle Aire company members were actively involved in creative and teaching activities. In 1975 Martine Époque left the company for a sabbatical year in the United States. A noticeable esthetic change upon her return was clearly influenced by the GNA members' creative research during her absence, as well as by Époque's experiences while she was away. The new choreographies in GNA's repertory included breathing as a sound source, more visible emotion and theatrical skills.
The GNA dancers were now better trained and formed a more homogeneous group. Despite serious efforts to restructure at the end of the 1970s, the GNA unexpectedly lost the support of the CANADA COUNCIL FOR THE ARTS. The Ministry of Cultural Affairs of Quebec remained the only government-funded support for the company and the financial situation of the GNA remained fragile.
In 1980 Martine Époque left GNA to become a professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal. The company ceased its activities in 1982 and was officially dissolved in 1987.