Why The Little Prince?
In French-speaking Quebec, where I grew up,
Le Petit Prince is a very popular children’s story.
I played the prince in a ballet school production
when I was maybe 8. Then the book slipped my
mind for a while.
But obviously it returned.
Yes, when I became interested in French philoso-
phy and realized Le Petit Prince is a wonderful
philosophical book disguised as a very accessible
And it’s been adapted every which way.
Including some dance versions I’ve seen that
didn’t completely work for me. I knew it would be
a tough story to tell but I wanted that challenge.
How did you approach making a ballet out of it?
I began working on ideas at least four years ago.
Karen Kain agreed to free up some time for me to
workshop some of them. I knew I wanted experienced collaborators. I’ve been fortunate to have
the input of Adam Gopnik, a staff writer at The
New Yorker and an expert on The Little Prince.
He explained its meaning and what the characters
represent. And our designer, Michael Levine, has
so much experience not just in designing sets, but
in overall staging concepts.
What about the music?
I wanted an original orchestral score and approached Kevin Lau, a Canadian composer I
admire. I’ve studied music and even composed
some, so I had pretty clear ideas and wanted
someone who would be flexible. I have wonderful
collaborators with whom I can discuss what will
work and maybe not work.
Well, there are animal characters in the book, but
we decided against putting dancers in animal
costumes. These characters represent people
Saint-Exupéry encountered in his life, so we’re
going in a more realistic direction. Broadly, we’ve
taken a literal approach, but with some liberties,
too. Overall, we’re trying to offer a psychological
representation of what the book means.
How are you balancing being a dancer and a
Well, it’s tough. I have a lot of dancing left in me.
At the same time I believe being a choreographer
is very much a full-time job. I’m careful not to take
on more projects than I can handle. And being
a dancer, I can go into a studio on my own and
work on ideas when I have time. As it happened,
I’ve had more time to focus on this project than I
expected. I had a serious knee injury in December
2014, followed by surgery. It kept me off the stage
for almost a year. But I’m back now and still want
to keep dancing. n C o
news | 10 MINUTES WITH...
The rising choreographer premieres his first evening-length work.
BY MICHAEL CRABB
Guillaume Côté built his international reputation as an impassioned dancer, noted for intense
dramatic portrayals. Now, the National Ballet
of Canada principal dancer and choreographic
associate is quickly emerging as one of his
homeland’s most interesting dancemakers, with
classical technique that is often bold, angular and
hyper-articulate. His first evening-length work, an
adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit
Prince, opens June 4 at NBoC.
Côté working on
Le Petit Prince
with his NBoC