Maude Fortier, Montreal born and bred, is happy to represent the French Canadian contingent here at the School of TDT: “I grew up in Montreal and never really left my family home until I came to train at the School. When I was about three, my mom saw an ad for kids’ dance classes in the newspaper. I remember getting into a little bodysuit (which I still have!) and entering the studio for the first time. One of the main things that made dance classes so much fun for me was responding to music and moving with the rhythm. Dance has always been a great way of making friends too – it still is to this day!”
Maude went on to train further during her high school years, attending Collège Jean-Eudes, where she trained under Marie-Josée Hardy, director of the dance program: “The high school I went to had many arts programs in different disciplines, including a great dance program. It was mostly focused on ballet, but later on we were introduced to modern, jazz, flamenco, and other styles, so it was pretty well-rounded. I want to give a shout out to the fabulous teachers I learnt from at Collège Jean-Eudes – Christine Cyr, Chantale Desgroseilliers, Nadia Genois, Jacinthe Normandeau, Marie Parisella, and Liisa Saario.”
While at high school, Maude wanted to explore ballet more deeply, so she started training at Montreal’s Académie du Ballet Métropolitaine where, under the direction of Alexis Simonot, she trained on the weekends and tried her hand at classical ballet repertoire.
When it came to choosing professional training options, Maude’s mentor at Collège Jean-Eudes, Chantale Desgroseilliers, coached her about available training programs and suggested that she take a look at the School of TDT. Chantale had worked with the School’s senior faculty member and Resident Choreographer Darryl Tracy previously, and thought the Professional Training Program would be a good fit for Maude: “I came here for a visit, met Darryl, watched a couple of classes, walked through the building to feel out the vibe… et voilà! I attended the summer intensive program two summers in a row and auditioned for the PTP the second time I was here.”
Maude makes it a point to recommend the School to young dancers she meets back home in Montreal, and she is happy to advertise the supportive community and the bustling dance scene Toronto has to offer. This has yielded results already – one of Maude’s Montreal friends and schoolmates, Tanveer Alam, is now about to complete his first year of our PTP: “I think our program appeals to dancers of varied backgrounds, looking to hone their instruments and gain performance experience. My advice to new students is to be open and ready to jump into new things, because when you are open, you can learn more than you can possibly imagine.”
Now at the tail end of her training here, Maude reflects on the challenges and high points of her three years at the School: “Moving to Toronto – having never left Montreal for long before – was a big thing. Settling in, living by yourself away from home, and diving into very intense training head-on was super challenging. At all times, however, I’ve felt support from the faculty and my classmates, easing me through the difficult times. The fact that we have all gone this far is extremely gratifying. I am very proud to say that I will be a School of TDT graduate. I think I kind of found myself during my time at the School – which is a big statement, I know! The School gave me very strong technical and performance training, boosted my confidence immensely, and prepared me to take on whatever the future throws at me.”
Maude and her classmates are currently busy getting ready for ACCELERATION 2017, our third year show, on stage March 22-25, where she will be performing in a new work by Peggy Baker and a remount of Christopher House’s challenging quartet Colder Ink. In the coming months, along with getting ready to graduate from the School, Maude is planning to actively audition for training opportunities and dance projects in Toronto, Montreal, and beyond.