Jean Grand-Maître, the artistic director of the Alberta Ballet, was amazed when he received a call from Elton's road manager, inviting him to a Calgary concert last autumn backstage pass included. He accepted, along with six of his dancers in tow.
"Elton is a very gracious gentleman," says Grand-Maître. "He dedicated a song to us at the concert and met all of us backstage. He told us that he had had dinner with Joni Mitchell the week before. She raved about her experience creating The Fiddle and The Drum with Alberta Ballet, which made him interested in working with us."
According to Xtra.ca, Grand-Maître is devouring biographies and documentaries about Elton's life and occasionally flying to meet the man in person in order to get to know him better.
"I think this is going to be a cabaret/spectacle more than a ballet," Jean muses. "It will be the most homosexually themed ballet I have done, delving into Elton's struggles with his sexual orientation, his addictions and his triumphs."
Elton, which has been billed as a ''semi-contemporary semi-abstract ballet,'' will premiere in Calgary and Edmonton in May 2010.
Grand-Maître says, "It is going to be successful and not something audiences will be expecting to see. I also want to break a lot of prejudices with respect to contemporary ballet. It is not a 'dumbing down' of classical ballet high art and pop culture have been interacting for centuries."