In 2013, Les Grands Ballets inaugurated its National Centre for Dance Therapy (NCDT), the first initiative of its kind to be designed and implemented by a dance company. This is part of the broader vision of Les Grands Ballets to promote the benefits of dance with a view to improving individual well-being.
The NCDT is unique on the international scene because it integrates three components:
Over the past ten years, the NCDT has reached more than 3000 people from 21 marginalized and vulnerable communities. It collaborated with 74 partners, from the community, school and health sectors and ten university partners. Among these populations are elderly people, caregivers or people living with eating disorders, autism, Down's syndrome, depression, intellectual disabilities, Parkinson's disease, chronic pain, problems of mental health, and more.
These people have benefited from the positive impact of dance, whether at a cognitive, psychological, or physical level, such as the improvement of self-esteem, the reduction of the effects of anxiety and depression, slowing the loss of cognitive abilities, improving motor skills, balance, and body awareness, among others.
The NCDT is also open to the public, through a range of dance therapy and adapted dance courses: 600 participants have benefited from an offer of 28 different courses. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centre was committed to offer livestream options to maintain the connection with its beneficiaries.
With the Alternate Route, dancers and health professionals can follow a program that is part of a dance therapy certification course. It is the only training of this type in Canada and three cohorts (49 qualified professionals) have already attended it since 2014. The fourth cohort will complete its training the summer of 2024.
To accomplish its mission and promote the benefits of dance for the well-being, the National Centre for Dance Therapy also offers continuous education to professionals, practitioners, artists and educators wishing to use dance in social community or health settings. 28 workshops and training are already offered or planned.
By collaborating on about ten research projects on the benefits of dance, two of which are still in progress, the National Centre for Dance Therapy has contributed to the collection of concrete data and to the publication of scientific studies on specific communities, contexts and organizations of Quebec and Canada. Several of the NCDT's projects serve as sources for data collection for researchers and students from various universities.
The NCDT has also organised several events and activities aiming to share the benefits of dance and make the discipline more inclusive.
Two conferences made it possible to share and exchange knowledge and expertise:
The work of the NCDT has created a direct relationship between the communities it serves and the mission of Les Grands Ballets, through varied events. A collaboration with Luca Lazylegz Patuelli and his ILL-Abilities crew resulted in two NO LIMITS events, in the fall of 2018 and 2022, where dancers of all bodies and abilities shared the stage.
In the spring of 2022, the NCDT had the honour of inviting the participants of its activities to two relaxed performances of Romeo & Juliet, adapted to the needs of people with various abilities. In September of the same year, 700 marginalized or vulnerable people were also invited to the show The Four Seasons. The next relaxed performance is scheduled in June 2023 for Cinderella.
• Inauguration of the Centre
• Launch of The Alternate Route training
• First National Symposium for Dance and Well-Being
• Opening of adapted dance and dance therapy classes for the public in Les Grands Ballets' new spaces situated at 1435 rue De Bleury
• First International Symposium for Dance and Well-Being
• NO LIMITS event - ILL-Abilities 10th anniversary
• First livestream services
• Launch of the blog, with the aim of sharing news of the Centre's projects and highlighting initiatives around dance and well-being in Canada
• Start of a series of continuing education workshops and training
• Launch of a series of dance exercise videos for people with various abilities or neurocognitive disorders
• First relaxed performance, with Romeo & Juliet