A dancer and purveyor of grace and talent, meet Cirque du Soleil's Nicole Montagne

Nicole Lamontagne,  a classical and contemporary dancer from Montreal, has been with the world famous Cirque du Soleil since 2006. She conducts auditions and conferences all over the world to recruit the best dancers for the continuous casting need of Cirque du Soleil. Prior to working for Cirque, Nicole was a Principal Dancer for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens for seven years, soloist for Ballet British Columbia for four years, and a soloist for Les Ballet Jazz de Montreal for three years. She also has her college certification in administration and accounting, has worked with directors on high priority reports, and is at ease managing tight schedules and heavy workloads.

Her musical sensitivity along with her acute sense of quality of movements are part of the elements that explain why so many choreographers and collaborators have chosen to work with Nicole in dance as well as other various disciplines like artistic skaters and contortionists. Nicole studied music from the age of six. During her career, Nicole explored many dance styles: classical dance, jazz, modern dance, tango, and folk dance. While in college, she trained in theatre. She collaborated in many television shows and operas, which gave her opportunities to work with multi-disciplined artists.

Who… or what in particular… was the biggest inspiration for you as a dancer/artist?

Actually, I can not say that one event, person played that kind of role for me. I truly met incredible people along my path and got to work with amazing choreographers. My inspiration came from them being inspired by my dance. Of course I have certain dancers that I looked up but that did not play a role in my desire to dance.

Have you faced resistance in your career for advancement, or do you cultural resistance for being a woman taking the stage? (If so how do you deal with it)?

Actually, in my country there is no such resistance. We have a strong need to take our place and work hard to stay there. It is more the place of the woman then the man actually in the world of Classical ballet. What was difficult at the beginning for me is that I was trained in the school attached to the dance company I worked for and since I was there from a young age, it was hard to be looked at as an adult. They saw me even at 25 as the little child.

Did you find the pressures of working in your industry significant with regard to feeling the need to have a “perfect” body?

Not at all. I was fortunate to never have a weight problem. I never dieted. I saw many dancers around me with that struggle. I felt bad for them but I can't say that there was such dramatic pressure. It is just common sense to be healthy when you are doing such hard physical work. And not even that, everyone should eat healthy just for the sake of it.

How do you find a work-life balance — what are keys to balance?

That is hard still today for me. My brains is constantly chattering. As a dancer, I often went into difficult periods because I felt my career was stopping me from having a normal stable life. Twice I retired and had said it was over but soon I would realize that breathing was harder when I was not dancing. It was what I was born to do and could not escape my destiny. I soon realized that my concept of balance in my life was based on the "Cinderella" syndrome and that if you ask me now I know that that kind of life I was dreaming of would have made me a very unhappy person. 

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