Montreal·Point of View

How 375 dancers put the finishing touches on tonight's performance at Place des Festivals

This is the fifth and final of Anna Asimakopulos's chronicles of the path to opening night of Super Méga Continental tonight at Place des Festivals. She has been sharing her story and those of fellow dancers.

Free performances get underway tonight for city's birthday bash

Super Méga Continental choreographer Sylvain Émard has pulled out all the stops, treating all participants like professional dancers. (Courtesy of Jean-Paul Acco)

This is the fifth and final of Anna Asimakopulos's chronicles of the path to opening night on Friday, Sept. 15. She has been sharing her story and those of fellow dancers.

The free performances of Super Méga Continental will be Sept. 15, 16, and 17 at Place des Festivals. 


After weeks in a church basement and as many in the bowels of the Olympic Stadium, hundreds of dancers are galloping across Montreal's Place des Festivals.

We are down to our final rehearsals for the Super Méga Continental ahead of Friday night's premiere in front of an audience potentially numbering in the thousands.

There is a sense of wonder to it all.

Our choreographer Sylvain Émard has pulled out all the stops, treating us like professional dancers.
Sylvain Émard, the choreographer behind the Super Méga Continental, is excited for opening night. (Courtesy of Jean-Paul Acco)

There are the vast array of lights, the live DJ, and fountains, which will spout on cue for one section of the 30-minute performance.

"It's like the conclusion of this whole process is really getting real. When you rehearse for so many weeks, now it's real," Émard said after our first onsite rehearsal.

It's also mind-boggling to think that, in the space of just 12 weeks, 375 untrained dancers have so thoroughly learned a 30-minute choreography, it's become almost instinctual.
Exactly 375 dancers will take over Montreal's Place des Festivals this weekend. (Courtesy of Jean-Paul Acco)

"It's really exciting and rewarding to see people's faces when they get it. It's a great, great feeling," he said.

We've made it this far thanks to Émard's determination and vision. He has combined his twin loves — line dancing with his longstanding affinity for large numbers of people dancing and having fun.

For years, whenever he would cross people dancing in a park, he would stand there and watch them for hours.

"There is something in it that really touches me," he said. "That they love to dance and that they love to be together."
Montrealers have been practising in a church basement for 12 weeks leading up to the Super Méga Continental. (Courtesy of Jean-Paul Acco)

It's why, for all the challenges of teaching us and training us, the rewards have been many.

There's the Chinese Montrealer who told Émard he now feels he's part of of a "big family."

There are the new friendships that have developed along the rows and rows of dancers.

And there is the joy of watching all these Montrealers dance the steps he's created to celebrate the city's 375th anniversary.
Super Méga Continental is on for free at Place des Festivals on Sept. 15, 16 and 17. (Courtesy of Jean-Paul Acco)

"This is my work and there are so many people involved in it and they are really enthusiastic about it, and they want to do their best, it's an honour actually."

The lights catch our triumphantly raised arms as we successfully make it to the end of our final rehearsal, and it's clear that honour goes both ways.

Read more of Anna Asimakopulos's chronicles of the path to Super Méga Continental:

The show at Place des Festivals is free and open to the public. (Courtesy of Jean-Paul Acco)

About the Author

CBC's Anna Asimakopulos covered Montreal's arts and culture scene for longer than she can remember.

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