ABOUT US

OUR MISSION:

 

Ballet Creole exists to create, preserve, and present dance works that testify to the rich heritage of African and Caribbean cultures as they interface with European traditions. 

Featuring the artistic creation of notable choreographers, including Patrick Parson, founder of Ballet Creole, the repertoire of the Company endeavors to create a dance legacy in Canada through performance and educational projects.

 

OUR MANDATE:

 

Ballet Creole is committed to:

  • Preserve and perpetuate traditional and contemporary African culture and increase awareness of the rich African culture that exists in Canada.
  • Establish a dynamic new Canadian artistic tradition based on a fusion of diverse dance and music traditions.
  • Promote multicultural understanding through education and quality entertainment to national and international audiences.

 

OUR STORY

Established in August 1990, Ballet Creole comprises both a professional ensemble of dancers and musicians, as well as a Professional School of Performing Arts.  With an emphasis on the disciplines of the Caribbean and Africa, Ballet Creole focuses on traditional and contemporary dance while infusing music from around the world. Ballet Creole is at the forefront of Contemporary Afro-Caribbean dance and has been labeled as the forerunner of Blacks in Dance in Canada.  

Ballet Creole was founded by Trinidadian-born dancer, choreographer, drummer and educator, Patrick Parson (Masters in Dance Ethnology, BFA in Dance).  Combining traditional Caribbean and African aesthetics with the Katherine Dunham modern technique, he has produced a technically strong and versatile professional dance company unlike any other in Canada.  Ballet Creole explores the power of drums and rhythms as a means of communicating between people and communities and aspires through the Arts to show their central philosophy that “Harmony in Diversity Creates a New Energy”

“Ballet Creole, is a vibrant company melding the vocabulary of modern and ballet with exuberant African and Caribbean dance styles.”  Judy Stoffman; The Toronto Star

Ballet Creole consists of a professional ensemble of dancers and musicians that provide a culturally dynamic forum for professional artists.  It is the first dance company of its kind, to offer a recognized Professional Training Program and School of Performing Arts to young, aspiring dancers in Canada and abroad.  The company presents two, main-stage productions as part of their Annual Dance Season with exclusive performances held at Harbourfront Centre’s Fleck Dance Theatre in Toronto.  Signature pieces include dance works of the Artistic Director, Patrick Parson, Associate Choreographer, Gabby Kamino and other notable guest choreographers like Milton Myers(Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre) and Danny Grossman.

Ballet Creole is a non-profit charitable organization. In accordance with its constitution and is governed by a ten member Board of Directors.

ORIGIN OF OUR NAME

“Ballet” is a specialized type of dance, originating in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century French courts, used in social settings and used by the people to tell their stories through movement.  This dance form was further developed in England, Italy, and Russia as a concert dance form.

The term "creole", meaning "native to the locality", refers to people born and raised in the Caribbean, but of mixed European and African descent. The term also refers to the Creole language which developed in the African diaspora as a common language for inhabitants coming from so many different linguistic and cultural groups. 

Similarly, the Ballet Creole repertoire reflects the multicultural fusion characteristic of Caribbean culture for centuries.  Indeed, Ballet Creole represents the forging of a new language, a unique blending of dance traditions from the old world and the new world. For the past twenty years the Company has sought to bring forth old traditions, nurturing their evolution in this North American "new world" thereby establishing a dynamic new artistic tradition in Canada. The result is a continuous creation of new energy through dance.

OUR HISTORY

Ballet Creole has been active on the Canadian dance scene since August 1990. Comprised of both a professional ensemble of dancers and drummers (the Company) and a School of Performing Arts (the School), Ballet Creole focuses on the process of “creolization”, a fusion of diverse traditional and contemporary Caribbean and African dance and music. On the Canadian landscape the result has been both innovative and dynamic.

For the past twenty years, under the artistic direction of dancer/choreographer/percussionist Patrick Anthony Parson, Ballet Creole has consistently provided a forum for choreographers, dancers and musicians to practice their art.

On stage, the exuberant dialogue between the drummers and dancers of Ballet Creole generates enthusiastic responses. As a fledgling company, Ballet Creole performed to an audience of 5,000 at the 1991 WOMAD Festival in Toronto, where the company "drew thunderous applause" for its performances in which the "energy and brilliance of Caribbean and contemporary African cultures are portrayed".

Ballet Creole held its first dance season in 1992 at the Winchester Street Theatre. The Company quickly established itself in the mainstream dance world through its participation in the CIBC 1992/93 Dance Season at the Premiere Dance Theatre, Harbourfront, where it performed to sell-out audiences with an extra show added to accommodate demand. Since 1994, the company has presented its annual dance season performances at Harbourfront's duMaurier and Premiere Dance (now known as Fleck Dance) Theatres in Toronto, as well as theatres in St.Catharines and Hamilton.

In the summer of 1993 Ballet Creole expanded its touring to the northern USA, appearing in Columbus, Ohio and Oswego, New York.

Through its daily classes and summer school programming, the Ballet Creole School of Performing Arts offers an innovative mix of Afrocentric percussion and contemporary African, Caribbean and modern dance for adults, children, beginners, amateurs, and professionals wishing to develop their technique and performance skills. An apprenticeship program is available in dance and music for professional level dancers and youth wishing to delve intensively in these art forms.

Ballet Creole is a non-profit charitable organization governed by a Board of Directors.

OUR MUSICIANS: CREOLE DRUMMATIX

A separate but equally important entity, Creole Drummatix is an ensemble of world beat musicians offering a smorgasbord of music from the Caribbean, Latin America, and West Africa using the instruments and languages of those regions. Through audience participation, the ensemble demonstrates the djembes, bembes, congas, balaphones and steel pan while relating each instrument to geography and culture. Tantalizing the senses through music, Creole Drummatix fuses popular and contemporary songs with traditional African and Caribbean drumming to bring together an eclectic mix of exotic sounds. On stage, the exuberant dialogue between the drummers elicits enthusiastic responses with performances that are exemplary of the energy and brilliance of Diasporic cultures. 

Under the direction of well-known educator Patrick Parson, this ensemble of professional musicians creatively and effectively tailor performances to their audiences - whether children, youth or adults.

Creole Drummatix can also be booked for engagements using our BOOKING INQUIRY FORM

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