École de danse contemporaine de Montréal
The arrival of independent choreographers and freelance dancers on Québec's artistic landscape led dance teacher and choreographer Linda Rabin and dancer-teacher Candace Loubert to found l'École Linda Rabin Danse Moderne in 1981 in the large Édifice Belgo, on Montréal's Sainte-Catherine Street.
Using a multi-faceted approach based on physical training, somatic techniques and the creative process, Rabin and Loubert offered instruction in a variety of methods, including Graham, Limon, Alexander, Summers, Thiele, Pochinko, Dowd and Skinner.
The establishment of the school was perfectly timed. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Montréal experienced a dance boom despite a dearth of well-trained dancers to inspire choreographers. School graduates were destined to help fill this void.
Incorporated in 1984 and formally known as Les Ateliers de danse Moderns de Montréal Inc (LADMMI), the school was mandated by Quebec's Ministère des Affaires culturelles (Quebec's cultural ministry) to develop a professional contemporary dance training program.
Aided by international guest teachers in what has become an ongoing policy, the new professional program began as an intensive, six-month pilot project in 1985. It was soon extended to 2 years in recognition of a need for more in-depth training.
In 1991, the Quebec education ministry recognized LADMMI as a professional (post-secondary) college and its training program was extended to 3 years with additional classes in technique, anatomy, performance, choreographic workshops and more.
Linda Rabin departed in 1994 and Candace Loubert remained as director until 1996, when Tassy Teekman, a choreographer and high-profile performer, was named LADMMI's artistic director.
By 1997, the first inter-school exchange with the School of Toronto Dance Theatre was in place, as was continuing participation in Pépinières européennes, a program in which the school offers a biennial residency to European choreographers who create dances for students.
Two years later, LADMMI was accredited by Quebec's Ministère de l'Education, du Loisir et du Sport and affiliated with a Montréal college, Cégep du Vieux Montréal. Under a three-year program, academic and dance training shared the curriculum, leading to a diploma of collegial studies (DEC). This achievement crowned 15 years of effort by the school's administration to offer future dancers a balanced, quality education and prepare them for the realities of the dance profession.
Robin Colyer took over as pedagogical director on an interim basis when Teekman took a leave of absence in 2003. In 2005, Lucie Boissinot, a dancer, choreographer and teacher of wide experience, was appointed artistic director and head of pedagogy.
École de danse contemporaine de Montréal
On its 30th anniversary in 2012, the school changed its name to the École de danse contemporaine de Montréal in keeping with its mandate to reflect changes in technical and creative training. The same year it introduced a new certificate of college training in contemporary dance instruction. This program was created in collaboration with the Cégep du Vieux Montréal and 2 other schools to meet a growing demand for qualified dance instructors.
Throughout its history, the school has aimed to prepare students for professional careers and to this end it has focused on the transition from student to professional. Resource and networking programs are numerous: for example, in 2004, the school initiated creative collaborations with students from the School of Toronto Dance Theatre, Winnipeg's Contemporary Dancers, the École de danse du Québec, Ottawa's School of Dance and Vancouver's now defunct Maindance. Fruits of this work - new works or remounting of older pieces - are shown at the bi-annual Canada Dance Festival in Ottawa.
The school has also instigated a program to assist transition from school to the professional milieu; recent graduates and professional choreographers create and produce dances presented both inside and outside the school environment.
All students audition for admittance to the school. However, in 2009, the Mise en niveau program was initiated to encourage those not yet ready to enter the government-subsidized DEC. The program allows these students to study privately at the school while following academic courses until they can audition again the following year.
Part of the general curriculum exposes students to all aspects of professional dance, including the many Montréal performances and rehearsals by visiting and local artists. Students also visit studios and schools and make cultural visits to New York City.
This progressive approach to training focused on state-of-the-art teaching and integration into the professional milieu has paid off. L'École de danse contemporaine de Montréal graduates now dance in companies across Canada and around the world.