Montreal·Point of View

The ties that bind: dancing together weaves new bonds

This is the fourth of Anna Asimakopulos's chronicles of the path to opening night of the Super Méga Continental on Friday, Sept. 15. She will be sharing her story and those of fellow dancers.

Super Méga Continental performance brings together 375 Montrealers

Each dancer for the Super Méga Continental is equally important. (CBC)

This is the fourth of Anna Asimakopulos's chronicles of the path to opening night on Friday, Sept. 15. She will be sharing her story and those of fellow dancers.

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

Valérie Magnan has danced her whole life. She quickly picked up the steps to Sylvain Émard's choreography for the Super Méga Continental, performing them with ease and an assured fluidity.

She has no trouble moving through the wildly different styles of dance in our 30-minute show created to celebrate Montreal's 375th anniversary.

It's why after weeks of rehearsals, when we were invited to choose where we wanted to be placed for our performances at Place des Festivals, I made sure I was right behind her.

Actually to put it baldly, I stalked her. There are a lot of steps to remember, and this is not my forte. I depend on her.

Magnan is one of 42 people on the front line, leading the rest of us behind her, a spot that comes with a certain visibility and responsibility.

"It feels good to be able to lead the team behind me and to dance with everybody," she said.

Valérie Magnan, in purple, has danced her whole life. (CBC)

Except for the part when we're lying on the ground simulating sizzling bacon, we're mostly dancing in long rows, in all directions.

This is why each of the dancers immediately surrounding you end up being equally important — if one of you goes off galloping in the wrong direction, you don't want to lead everyone else astray.

As Fatima Azzahra, who dances behind me, puts it, she "learned about trusting people around me, and I learned that even if you trust people around you, you have to trust yourself."

You also learn about each other's strengths. Azzahra's strength especially comes through in the number called Aimer d'Amour, where her lifelong experience of belly dancing comes in handy.

Dance taught Fatima Azzahra to trust the people around her and herself. (CBC)

There's also a sense of kinship and even the buds of friendship developing as we dance alongside each other.

Marianne Carle-Marsan, who dances to my right, describes herself as "normally a solitary person." And yet, here she is dancing alongside 374 Montrealers. 

It turns out, being able to do this was on her "life list."

Back in 2010 she saw Émard's Très Grand Continental with 125 amateur dancers, and vowed to herself that one day, she would perform in one.

Marianne Carle-Marsan has wanted to dance in one of these performances since 2010. (Anna Asimakopulos/CBC)

"There is this vital energy that's created that's magic. You get your bearings from the people around you, they become so important, and you end up feeling close to each other. You rely on each other."

I've also come to rely on well-known Quebec actress Anne-Marie Cadieux, who leads the line beside me, by frequently picking up cues on where we're going next with a quick glance at her.

"I find this fantastic, because there is this kind of community that's being created," she said.

The Super Méga Continental is even bringing out some stars, like actress Anne-Marie Cadieux. (Anna Asimakopulos/CBC)

"Because we're people from all walks of life, of all ages. And because it's not our work, there are no egos involved."

It's why if at first the Super Méga Continental looks merely like a whole lot of people dancing and having fun, there is more to it. Underpinning it all are bonds that have been forged in sweat, a sense of common purpose, laughter and joy.
The opening night of Super Méga Continental is Sept. 15. (Courtesy of Jean-Marc Deschamps)

About the Author

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