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Government of New Brunswick

Olga Petiteau

Olga Petiteau, Atlantic Ballet Atlantique Canada

Olga Petiteau trained at the Académie américaine de danse de Paris in France. She joined Ballet Cymru in 2009, where she performed on national and international tours. She has also been involved in the creation and inception of many neoclassical and contemporary pieces. Olga danced with Vienna Festival Ballet and Les Ballets classiques de Paris. She brilliantly interpreted the role of Edith Piaf in Atlantic Ballet Canada’s original production of Piaf. She has also performed in Ghosts of Violence, Phantom of the Opera, Iceman, Carmen, Don Juan, and Figaro with the Company.

What led you to become a dance artist?

At a very young age I came up with an idea that I wanted to become a ballerina; following that my mother enrolled me in ballet classes at la Salle Pleyel in Paris. From that first day in the studio, my love for dancing kept growing and I never doubted that I wanted to pursue a career as a professional ballet dancer.

How did your training and experience help you to create and innovate in your artistic practice?

I was very fortunate to be living in Paris, France, where there are many dance schools and where Art is part of the culture.

I have been taking dance classes since the young age of 2.5 years old.

At around 10-11 years old, I was advised to audition for pre-professional ballet schools where you are trained in dance as much as you also go to school. At 12- 13 years old, I had the chance to audition for a pre-professional dance school which was at the time called “Académie Americaine de danse de Paris”. This school had a different philosophy and approach, very much leaning towards forming dancers to dance internationally. We had many guests’ teachers and choreographers from everywhere in the world, which opened my eyes, my mind and made my passion grow stronger. Throughout this training I feel I have learned to adapt to different styles and to “change hats” and to mould in when required, helping me to discover myself with all my strengths and weaknesses, and knowing how to use it all to my advantage.

Once I had my first professional ballet contract back in 2009, I believe I started to learn who I was as a professional dancer and kept growing to the dancer and artist I am today. Every experience, depending on the country, the cultures, the dance styles, and the environment shapes you and offer you the chance to learn and better yourself, which I feel I was lucky enough to understand and embrace. I faced many challenges, which at the time were not easy to face, but I now know that it shaped me and helped better myself.

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Olga Petiteau, Atlantic Ballet Atlantique Canada

What stimulates you most about your practice?

I feel the stimulation changed over the years.

When I was younger in my career, it was the athletic side of the practice. Pushing my body to its limits to achieve every dance movement to its best and at my bests. Being able to achieve the technical elements was a big stimulation, as well as building stage stamina.

Later, I feel I started to be more stimulated by the rehearsal process. Learning so many ballets, a lot of choreography, finding the right musicality and movement qualities. As well as performing and sharing emotions to and with the publics.

Nowadays, I am more stimulated by being and staying in tune with myself. Being in the moment as I am being in the studio rehearsing, or on stage performing. I appreciate feeling and breathing the music through the movement. I am stimulated by achieving the choreography while expressing the meaning of the movement.

How has living and working in New Brunswick helped and/or inspired you on your journey?

Before moving to New Brunswick, I have been most of my time in big cities, where the way of life is very hectic at times. New Brunswick has a much slower pace of life. I believe being so much surrounded by nature, in a friendly community helped me relax in certain ways and by that helped me in my artistic journey. Living in an environment where you feel you can easily retrieve in nature helped me to be able let it go and to be in the moment, which is very important to feel inspired.

What is your long-term vision and what do you hope to achieve?

As I am retiring from my dancer’s career, I am finishing a major chapter of my life. I have been a dancer my whole life and it has been my main vision for most of the years. It is difficult to express a long-term vision, as I feel I first need to discover the individual in me who is going to be in a major professional transition with a completely different lifestyle.

For now, I am looking forward to keeping growing as an individual and to be able to offer my knowledge, my time to the Art community and the province which had welcomed me and made me feel safe since I came over, 11 years ago.

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Olga Petiteau; Piaf, Atlantic Ballet Atlantique Canada

Why do you think it’s important to make art and pursue an artistic career?

Art is a very strong way to express ourselves. It can be more powerful than words, especially since technology is now so advanced. Art is all about the basic of expression. There is so much culture, so much history and so much strength in Art. It also developed many senses which I believe is vital to the harmony of individuals in the world. Art makes you feel, makes you dream and makes you be in the moment present with all your senses involved. It is vital, in my opinion!

An artistic career is a choice of life, all artists have their own story to share and tell, which is one of the reasons I believe it is important to pursue an artistic career if the will is there. People that pursue an artistic career usually want to share their passion and they know it will bring people together, it will help people in a different way. To have Art and to have creativity, our society needs artists who pursue their dreams. It’s a circle of life.

What have you learned about yourself and New Brunswick’s artistic community through your work?

Coming to New Brunswick, I have met so many artists that are very enthusiastic about their work and the community.

In the Company Atlantic Ballet Atlantique Canada, where I have worked since 2013, I have the chance to collaborate with artists that come from all over the world. Sometimes with a language barrier, sometimes possible culture clashes. However, we all work so hard to achieve what we love the most. We have so much respect, so much tolerance that we all get united in our work. It always comes together which dedication, commitment, and respect.

What do you think is the impact of artists work on communities and the province as a whole?

I feel the younger generation is one of the biggest impacts of artists work on communities and the province. The younger generation wants to learn and to discover what the world has to offer. They “sponge” and embrace what they see and feel. It helps and will help them to discover their likes and dislikes and hopefully offer them the opportunity to discover their critical mind.

What advice would you give to people who want to pursue a career as a dance artist?

Some of my advice would be:

  • Follow your heart and give all of you have. Success comes with hard work.
  • You must be honest with yourself to be able to truly make the audience feel what you try to express.
  • Try to have a healthy lifestyle, as dancers, you must protect your body, so it works at its best and for as long as you require.
  • Help your colleagues. Dancers are selfish when they work on their own body, but dancers are also part of a team, and it is so important to be a team player.
  • Don’t be afraid to be your true self and live in the moment.

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