|What happens with a lot of singers is they have done so much in their lives that at the age of 60 it is not about money or profile anymore. It is about doing things they have never done — and the idea of a ballet being created to their music or a play is novel and just wonderful,” says Grand-Maître.
In their conversations, John told Grand-
Maître that ballet is less censored than the entertainment industry and so could get closer to the truth. “So he basically gave me carte blanche. It took some time to even listen to the entire anthology of his music. He is like the Johann Sebastian Bach of pop music.”
Less intense than his collaboration with Mitchell, the meetings with John are few and far
between, although email exchanges are frequent. Grand-Maître adds, “I have a feeling he’s going to show up [for the premiere May 6, 2010, in Calgary] and we will have quite an event.”
Grand-Maître is just as excited about the actual work in progress. “He sent me some music that has never been released. He has offered me his artwork and his photo collections. Anything I need to create set designs or themes. He’s an amazing man.”
Grand-Maître went to Las Vegas to meet with John about the ballet. Based on his experience with Mitchell who had her own ideas about the storyline, Grand-Maître surmised that preparing a script would be a waste of time and in fact might be insulting to John. The night before their meeting, one of John’s managers told Grand-Maître that the renowned composer “couldn’t wait to hear my pitch. So I spent the night preparing for the
following afternoon meeting. That next day we met and I outlined the concept.”
What he plans to present begins in an abandoned theatre where a child on a tricycle is spinning in an endless circle under one small light. “It is inspired by a photo of John on a tricycle when he was six. We are recreating the tricycle and the same little costume,” he says.
“Then the soundscape will start and carry every sound that child will live — bits of music — most of songs that will be heard throughout the ballet. Then we will hear voices on the radio: John Lennon was shot; Princess Diana dies in the tunnel; all the incredible things this little boy will live through. All these sounds will echo and one song will pop out of it and we will do a number on it.”