Montréal’s Les Grands Ballet Gets Ready to Party

Élise Sauvé is a lawyer and Manager of Business Development and Practice Optimization at Stikeman Elliott. She is also co-president of the Jeunes gouverneurs des Grands Ballets.

Founded in 2012, the Jeunes gouverneurs des Grands Ballets (the “JGGB”) committee is made up of young professionals whose mission is to educate a new generation about philanthropy and to create networking opportunities, while making the ballet accessible to an increasing number of people of different ages and from diverse backgrounds by creating fundraising events and campaigns. Since 2012, more than six events per year are organized and have raised over $280,000. We are lucky to be able to rely on the support of a major institutional partner, National Bank. This partnership allows us to have a bigger impact and to increase the reach of our efforts.

Three types of events are organized throughout the season: the annual fundraising event (the “Soirée JGGB”), networking cocktails and ballet classes. Everything around the events features ballet, usually a ballet performance from Les Grands Ballets, it’s not just a party. What’s more, Les Grands Ballets dancers come to the Soirée JGGB (April 1 this year, save the date!) and you get to talk and celebrate with them.


The committee also organizes ballet classes given by Les Grands Ballets solists, which makes us realize how much effort goes into a show and allows us to better understand their art.

Through this experience, members of the JGGB gain valuable experience in preparing, implementing and promoting fundraising events, while developing their skills in seeking funding. On the other hand, participants who attend our events meet new people, contribute to a good cause, see a ballet and discover this art. Our events are simultaneously a cultural, artistic, philanthropic and social experience.

Within four years, more than 1,400 young professionals attended a ballet show. This is strong evidence of the fact that we have managed to increase the interest of young professionals towards Les Grands Ballets, a cultural institution that plays a key role in Montreal as well as on the international scene.


What advice would you give to others looking to get involved in Philanthropy?
Start now, innovate and have fun! There are so many possible ways of getting involved out there. If you are unsure about where to start, I would suggest attending events to better identify the organization(s) that most appeal to you. Attending events is also a great way to show your support and have an impact.

When getting involved, follow-through and passion are important as well. Those who perform best think outside the box, innovate and give their 100%.

Both the institution and the young professional gain from these relationships. They have an impact and the connections and skills acquired are worth the time commitment.

How is Les Grands Ballet unique? What makes it so special?
Les Grands Ballets has been communicating its passion for dance and igniting the imagination of audiences worldwide. This widely acclaimed company is devoted to developing ballet in all its forms, while remaining faithful to the spirit of classical ballet.

The company is strongly committed to the local community. Since 1997, The Nutcracker Fund for Children has given thousands of children from disadvantaged communities an unforgettable holiday season, with educational workshops and a free performance of The Nutcracker.

Les Grands Ballets will relocate to its new location, the Éspace Danse, in the heart of Montreal’s Quartiér des Spectacles, a unique creative crossroads. All of these initiatives have one goal: to move the world, differently.

The 2017-2018 season will be very special, as it is Ivan Cavallari’s first season as Artistic Director. The JGGB were present at the unveiling of the season, where we learned that seven shows will be presented next season. These shows are inspired by music and spirituality putting the spotlight on young choreographers and creations from the world over.

What are the best ways for young professionals to get involved in charitable giving like Les Grands Ballets?
Come to our events! Our objective is not only to fundraise, but also to introduce young professionals to the art.

How is this philanthropic involvement fitting with your day to day job?
We share responsibilities and try to be as efficient as possible by meeting once a month. We alternate between meetings and phone calls, which empowers us to balance social time and efficiency.

We’re a team of 18 young professionals (some of us have been members since the inception of the committee) and, since we organize so many events, we are able to really get to know each other and have a lot of fun. We are in contact with JGGB alumni who help us with certain sponsorships or ideas, it’s a fantastic community.

How do you see your committee differentiating itself?
Our main focus is to make ballet accessible to a broader group and create a new generation of ballet lovers, while raising funds for Les Grands Ballets. We meet this goal by packaging the Soirée with a ballet, and having ballet dancers from the Grand Ballets as guests for attendees to socialize with. We want the ticket price to be affordable, which is quite unique.

This year, we want to innovate and have decided to create a crowdfunding campaign in order to contribute to the new Éspace Danse in the Wilder Building. Our goal is to raise $30,000.