"Gradimir Pankov's revolution at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal continues, with breathtaking results." John Rockwell, The New York Times
Macedonia native Gradimir Pankov has been in love with dance for 50 years. He began his career as a brilliant dancer in the former Yugoslavia and in Germany, before successively taking over the artistic direction of Nederlands Dans Theater II (the Netherlands), National Ballet of Finland (Helsinki), Cullberg Ballet (Sweden), and Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève (Switzerland). He has also served as a guest instructor with the most prestigious ballet companies in the world: Paris Opera Ballet, Lyon Opera Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater, Cullberg Ballet, Gulbenkian Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre. On his road to success, he met and made lasting friendships with what are today's leading ballet figures, including Jiří Kylián, Mats Ek, Ohad Naharin, and rising stars like Didy Veldman and Stijn Celis.
A man of passion and openness, Pankov is passionate about all forms of expression. Undaunted by challenges, he aspires to make Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal into a company that stands out both in the world of ballet and that of culture in general.
Since his arrival, he has breathed new life into the Montréal company and fuelled the desire to excel through his programming choices, disciplined thinking, and deep understanding of the artists and designers he works with. Pankov is a complete professional driven to imbue the company with the distinct character of the city he adopted in 2000 and where he intends to remain for some time to come.
Margret Kaufmann was born and grew up in New York City, where she studied dance at the new Dance Group Studio, Metropolitan Opera Ballet School and American Dance Center. Her principal ballet teachers were Celine Keller, Margaret Craske and Alfredo Corvino. She also studied with Hector Zaraspe, Françoise Martinet and Robert Joffrey. As a dancer, her first professional engagements were with Maryland Ballet in Baltimore and at Radio City Music Hall in New York. She then went on to dance with several ballet companies in Germany, with the Finnish National Ballet in Helsinki and with Cullberg Ballet in Stockholm, Sweden. After finishing her dance career in 1987, Margret Kaufmann studied the Benesh Movement Notation System in London, England, receiving her choreologist's diploma in 1989. Between 1989 and 1996, she was ballet mistress and choreologist with Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève in Geneva Switzerland. She then went on to commercial studies in Geneva, receiving an executive assistant's diploma in 1997. From 1998 to 2000 she worked in New York City as personal assistant to the Artistic Director at American Ballet Theatre.
Margret Kaufmann has been working with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal since March 2001. In rehearsal, as ballet mistress, her tasks are to assist the choreographers and to function as rehersal director, notably for the repertory of Jiří Kylián and Mats Ek, both of whom she has worked with in the past. She was also assistant to the choreographer Kim Brandstrup during the creation of the ballet The Queen of Spades in 2001.
Pierre Lapointe hails from Kamouraska, Québec, and is a graduate of École supérieure de danse du Québec. His career as a dancer took flight in 1978 with Pacific Ballet Theater, now known as Ballet British Columbia. He has had the pleasure of working with great names in the dance world, including Terry Westmoreland and Benjamin Harkarvy.
He joined Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal in 1982 and danced with the company for over four years. By 1986, Pierre Lapointe's superb mastery and understanding of dance had earned him the position of Principal Ballet Master. He brings great originality and dedication to his position, as he draws from the host of talented dancers that surround him.
Among Pierre Lapointe's most fruitful partnerships were stints with Fernand Nault, Edouard Lock, Paul-André Fortier, Nacho Duato, James Kuldeka, Jiří Kylián, Mats Ek, Ohad Naharin, Stijn Celis, Didy Veldman and Kader Belarbi. He also combined forces with American Gayle Young to restage Les Noces by Irina Nijinska for Les Grands in 1989, worked with Ann Hutchinson-Guest restaging the contemporary masterpiece L'Après-midi d'un faune, and also collaborated with Anna Markard on numerous occasions to stage The Green Table by Kurt Joos.
A remarkable teacher, Pierre Lapointe has been leading student matinée program performances for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal since 1991, to the delight of some 30,000 would-be dancers. He accompanies Les Grands on tour and is regularity invited to give Master Classes across North America.
Pierre Lapointe has been an indispensable member since his first days with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal and the company is proud to call him its principal Ballet Master.
Belgian-born Steve Coutereel studied at the Royal Academy of Ballet in Antwerp.
At the age of 17, just one year before graduating, Steve Coutereel is offered a contract by The Royal Ballet of Flanders, thus becoming the company’s youngest dancer. Two years later, he leaves Belgium to join the Ballet du Nord, in France, before moving to the United States.
With the San Francisco Ballet, he perfects his Balanchine repertory. With Hubbard Street Dance Chicago he dances works by Ohad Naharin, Jiri Kylian and Nacho Duato. Eight years after moving to the United States, he leaves for Canada.
In 2002, Mr. Coutereel joined Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal and was promoted to first soloist a year later. He created roles in such works as Noces and Cinderella by Stijn Celis, a piece he will later recreate for several companies including Introdans (Holland), Semperoper (Germany) and Ballet du Capitole (France). He also collaborated with Mats Ek on his Solo for Two – an impressive 25-minute pas de deux – and Apartement.
A persistent knee injury forced him to bid farewell to the stage. Passionate about languages, he used that time to study translation at the University of McGill. In 2011, driven by his love for dance, he goes back to working in the studios, this time as a teacher at l’École supérieure. In 2013, Gradimir Pankov welcomes him in Les Grands Ballets’ artistic direction team, for the creation of Dream Away.
Since then, he’s worked with the world’s greatest contemporary choreographers, including Stijn Celis, Stephan Thos, Didy Veldman, Mats Ek and Ohad Naharin.
Patricia grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, where she received her dance training at the Alberta Ballet School and Grant MacEwan College before moving to New York to study at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance.
She danced professionally with La Compagnie Dansepartout, performing works by Jean Pierre Perreault, Ginette Laurin, Paul André Fortier, Bill James, Luc Tremblay, Lucie Boissinot, Michael Montanaro, Tedd Robinson and Benoit Lachambre.
Patricia was a teacher at the École de Danse de Québec in the professional training program for many years.
In 1999, she retired from the dance world and with the support of the Dancer Transition Resource Center, returned to university and graduated from the John Molson School of Business with a degree in Commerce, specialized in Marketing and International Business. Patricia’s dancer transition story was featured in the DTRC’s 25th anniversary book, 25 Transitions.
Armed with her business degree, Patricia went on to represent some of Quebec’s most important artists at major art exhibitions in New York, Chicago, Palm Beach and Philadelphia and later launched her own online art gallery devoted to promoting artists on the world stage.
Patricia is thrilled to return to the dance world and join the wonderful team of Les Grands Ballets as Artistic Coordinator.