Harold Rhéaume, choregrapher

As a kid growing up in suburban Quebec, Harold’s nickname is Dennis the Menace. Only one thing can make him sit still: a musical on TV, especially one with Fred Astaire (who will heavily influence his subsequent work). Harold’s interest in dance comes about just like that: simply and naturally. But the road ahead is full of curves.

Only much later, after singing in a choir, managing a credit union and failing several auditions as an actor will he undertake a career in dance. At 20 he enrols at the École de danse de Québec.

He graduates in 1989, apprentices at Danse Partout (Quebec City), then joins the prestigious Groupe Dance Lab in Ottawa. Working under Peter Boneham is a crash course in professional creation, performance and choreography. Harold earns his stripes. His first shows are presented at the Canada Dance Festival (Ottawa), the Winnipeg Dance Festival and the New Moves Festival in Glasgow, Scotland. The Ottawa Citizen predicts “(…) his works will become an important contribution to this country’s performance arts.” Rhéaume has only been out of dance school 3 years.

1993 takes Rhéaume to Montreal, where he dances with panache for Louise Bédard, Danièle Desnoyers, Estelle Clareton, Hélène Blackburn, Isabelle VanGrimde, Daniel Soulières and Sarah Bild. In 1997 La Presse gushes: “(…) when he dances, Harold Rhéaume’s intensity makes him seem enormous (…) he dances to say something, to move you.”

Montreal also gives Rhéaume his big break as an independent choreographer: Lucie Boissinot, known for her work with Jean-Pierre Perreault, commissions him to create Ses propres ailes. Rhéaume is now a known commodity. In 1994, he creates Falaise for The Dance Collective Company (Winnipeg). The same year, Fatras (co-produced with Danse-Cité) makes waves at the Canada Dance Festival (Ottawa), followed by Troïka (1996) and Hybride (1997) with Tangente (Montreal). Another highlight of 1997 is his work with with video-artist Katrina McPherson to create Picture Show in Scotland.

After 1998’s Fresk (Agora de la danse, Montreal; Betty Oliphant Theatre, Toronto), Rhéaume makes his premiere at Montreal’s Place des Arts with Les dix commandements. The critics rave: “Right on!” writes La Presse, while The Gazette proclaims “Les dix exceeds all expectations (…) Just plain brilliant.”

In 1999 Rhéaume starts working under the name Le Fils d’Adrien: first taking part in the Festival international de nouvelle danse (FIND) with Épitaphe, then producing his final show as a Montreal-based artist with his friends Catherine Tardif and Jacques Moisan. Trinité is an off-the-wall success that takes le fils d’Adrien to Burlington, USA. The time is now ripe for Harold to go back to his hometown. His career is in full flight.