“You can quit tomorrow but for today, keep going” – Gérard Théorêt
Our guest today was born in a mining town in the North of Canada. He started his dance career rather late – but that didn’t stop him from going far. He worked as a soloist for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, as an actor and dance captain at the Stratford Festival, and as Associate Artistic Director for the Phantom of the Opera. For the Cirque du Soleil he worked both on stage as a performer as well as off stage as Artistic Director for many years. He also was a professor at Cornish College of the Arts for over 10 years and he has choreographed over 25 ballets and musicals. And in case you need a certified stage fight director, you guessed it, he can do that as well. Please welcome Gérard Théorêt!
Please find below the transcript of our conversation:
dance, ballet, people, moved, artistic director, stratford festival, royal winnipeg ballet, cirque de soleil, hal prince, cornish college, jerry lewis, actor, auditioned, teaching, arts, seattle, canada
Harald Krytinar, Gérard Théorêt
Gérard Théorêt 00:00
Oh, I read something recently that was so wonderful. It said if the past calls, let it go to voicemail, it has nothing new to say. Hi,
Harald Krytinar 00:16 and welcome to the mean 10 years podcast. I’m Harald and I bring to you stories from dances and stage artists who share their experiences about career transition. Our guest today was born in a mining town in the north of Canada. He started his dance career rather late, but that didn’t stop him from going far. He worked as a soloist for the Royal Winnipeg ballet as an actor and dance Captain at the Stratford Festival and as associate Artistic Director for the Phantom of the Opera. For the Cirque du Soleil. He worked both onstage as a performer as well as offstage as Artistic Director for many years. He also was a professor at Cornish College of the Arts for over 10 years, and he has choreographed over 25 ballets. And there’s one more thing in case you need a certified stage fight director, well, you guessed it, he can do that as well. Please welcome, Gérard Théorêt!
Gérard Théorêt 01:12
It’s great. It’s great to be here.
Harald Krytinar 01:14
Tell me, where are you located? We’re not quite next door to each other, it seems…
Gérard Théorêt 01:20
We’re not. I’m in Seattle, Washington in the northwest in the US of A and I’m in a part of town that’s called Queen and there are seven pills in Seattle. And I’m on Queen n on the side of the hill. And only because of COVID. I’ve discovered how beautiful it is here because I’ve taken so many walks.
Harald Krytinar 01:40
Yes, exactly. Everybody’s walking everywhere and trying to get outside. Yes, but this is actually not where you grew up. And I’d be really interested actually to find out where did you see the first light in your life? And where did you do your first walks?
Gérard Théorêt 01:55
Well, I, I was born in the mining town in northern Ontario in Canada, French Canadian. But to my basically my family waited for me to be born to move to Ottawa. So two weeks after I was born, we moved to Ottawa. And I think probably about two years later, we moved to Alexandria, Ontario, small, small town. And that’s where I basically grew up till I moved out at 17. To go to the big city to go to Ottawa. But yeah, growing up on a farm, there was not a lot to see in the arts. Television was it and it was black and white. I remember when that first screen came out, I don’t know if you know of this, but there was a piece of plastic that you put on the front of your screen. And it had a yellow, and a blue and a green stripe so that your television looked like it was in color. But it was really black and white. And my name is Gérard. But I used to get friends to call me Jerry because as a kid I wanted to be Jerry Lewis, which the French are very familiar with, well a certain age are familiar with. Because though I didn’t understand English very well, I understood his comedy because it was so physical. So that was my first aspiration in the arts was becoming Jerry Lewis. But of course, I didn’t speak English.
Harald Krytinar 03:27
That’s such coincident because I was a big fan of Jerry Lewis when I was little actually. I really liked him, it was I don’t know, like the window to the big world, you know, to the toward the dreams that existed only in other in faraway countries. It seems that when I was young, but tell me about Jerry Lewis, because you’re right. He’s a very physical artist/actor I guess. But I mean, it’s really more around artists the way he sees comedy and his way of interacting and, you know, presenting himself on stage or in front of a camera work. Is this how you discovered the arts and dance eventually? How did it all open up for you? How did you get interested in the arts? You said you grew up on a farm. And you had a black and white TV? How did the arts come into all of that for you?
Gérard Théorêt 04:14
Well, actually the in the small town and the population I think was 1200 people when I was growing up. In fact, I remember the sign on the city limits that said 1295 people population 1295. But there was a small School of Dance. Well, it was actually a woman who taught dance in her home. And my older sister used to go for tap lessons. My sister, my sister studied tap. And I wanted to take dance lessons as well. I was five years younger. And it was just not possible. I remember asking my mother, if I could take dance lessons and she said, you know next year it will happen by them. I think I was 11 years old and next year, we’ll get you – in fact, you’re so good on the ice because I could skate, we may have you in my younger sister, take figure skating lessons, and I was so excited about that. But my mother died when I was 12. She died of lung cancer, even though she had never smoked today in her life. But that’s another story. So that didn’t happen. In fact, it wasn’t until I left the farm and moved to the big city. And I believe I saw a dance concert. One of the first companies I saw actually was a French company. And I can’t remember their names, but it was, it blew me away. But the I think the centerpiece that got me going was the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, they performed at the National Art Center in Ottawa. And I’m skipping ahead of myself here because I took a dance class at the YMCA, in Ottawa, and it was a jazz class and the teacher was from New York. And I was so excited to take this class and to, to work on walking in opposition, just which was a challenge at that time. But after the class, I went to the teacher and I said, I love this, I want to do this, I want this to be what I do. By this time, again, I’m skipping ahead myself, I had applied for a course or a program at the Carleton University in Ottawa, to become a librarian, because I thought, I’d love to be a teacher, but that’s too long. So that was like four years of education to become a teacher, it was only two years to become a librarian. And I went, that’s it, that’s what I’m going to do. But when, when I applied the, the program was apparently full, so I did not get in. So I took a job in Ottawa. First at a little service center, I was a cashier and receptionist or something like that, which is very odd. And then I told him, I wasn’t happy with that. So they moved me to the bookkeeping department. And I did data, whatever data processing, I suppose. And then I got a job at the Governor General’s residence, which is Rideau Hall, and it worked for the Order of Canada, who gives awards to – there are several categories, I believe – but of course, I was focused on the arts and my job was basically keeping the scrapbook of the Governor General, up to date with with articles that came in from Reuters, or whoever, about these artists. So that was that. And at the time, I had a girlfriend, who I think was still in high school. And she told me she, because I told her I was interested in dance. And she said, there’s a program in Toronto that accepts students based on potential rather than experience because clearly, other than my jazz class at the YMCA, and I took, also took a class at the dance center in Ottawa. But it was a total beginner. So I was in a ballet one class, by this time, it was 19. And the other students were six and seven. And even at that, I didn’t know that you had to count the music, I thought they just all need to move together. It was really, really quite basic. But I did audition for Ryerson University in Toronto. The department was the Canadian College of dance, run by two British ladies, Mason McPhee and Sonia Chamberlain, and John Marshall, who was an examiner for the Royal Academy of Dance. And they accepted me, because I think in those days, it was hard, as it is still today, to get men to dance. So I got into that program. And it was basically today’s associate degree because it was only three years. And it was in pedagogy. Basically, I was studying to become a dance teacher, even though I was just starting to dance. But before I graduated, the one of the teachers John Marshall said, you know, you don’t have to go teach, you should dance, you should start auditioning for companies. And I didn’t know really how to do that. But I auditioned for the National Ballet of Canada, which is the big company, the largest company in Canada. And they said, Well, you know, you’re, you’re a little old. By this time, I think it was 23 years old. So they said, but we have a great teacher program, perhaps you’d like to go into our teacher’s program. And I thought, well, I’ve already just graduated from the teacher’s program. No, thank you very much. Then there’s some for Grannds Ballet de Canada in Montreal, and they accepted me in the school as a, I guess, at the apprentice level with the full scholarship. But my heart was set really on the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Because here’s the story started telling earlier and interrupted myself. I’d seen the Royal Winnipeg Ballet at the National Art Center in Ottawa, and there was a piece on the program called “Moncayo One” with one man and three women. And the man, I remember, was a principal dancer with Winnipeg Ballet, Terry Thomas, and he could turn he could jump, he could lift the women about and the piece was so fast. It was run, run, run, run, run, run, jump, jump, jump, jump, turn, turn, turn, turn, lift, run off stage, run back on. And I remember turning to the person, the people who were with me, and I said, If I could ever do this, I would say I, I’ve made it. I’ve succeeded in my quest to be a dancer. And so I was accepted that their own big ballet, not on full scholarship, but there was a small scholarship. And right up the beginning, we were auditioned for the second company, which is the concert, our ballet, which tours mostly local schools, but also went out of the province for performances. And the first piece that went up on the board, the casting went up on the board. And I was cast as the boy in “Moncayo”. So I had made it before I even got to the company, I’d succeeded that piece eventually got into the company, I was in the professional program. I also then was accepted into the company and then became a soloist. And that was the bulk of my dance career, which took me to I think, only 30 or 31. By the time I decided it was too hard on my body, we did so much touring. And I’ve skipped all the parts here about how there were days where I would go home and cry and think I don’t have it, I’m never gonna make it. It’s too hard. My body’s not ready. And all that. But I danced some amazing roles, worked with some amazing choreographers saw amazing parts of the world. And so that was great. But at, I guess, 30, I started thinking, well, it’s hurt. It hurts too much. And what else would I be interested in? Then I thought, I want it to be Jerry Lewis, remember. Then I applied to a theater school, a theater program. First in California, the Drama Studio in Berkeley, California. And they accepted me to the summer program. While I was at the Summer Program, that summer, they there’s another school in London. So this school in London, and the one in California, switched teachers, the American teachers were teaching in England, and vice versa. And at the last week, we all had interviews with the faculty. And the faculty convinced me to go to London for the full year rather than stay in California. And I applied for a Canada Council grant for the arts and I got a full grant. And so I got free tuition and I moved to London, and learn so much, including Received Pronunciation because I still had a French accent. And I wanted to be an actor. I wanted to be a classical actor. But it was wonderful living in London and graduating from there. I graduated with honors, because I had the dedication. I was probably the oldest student in school because it was the postgraduate program. Most of them had just gotten out of college and are now focusing on acting. Came back to Canada with my acting training. And as much as I could, I took all dance off of my resume, because I wanted to be seen as a serious actor. And so I auditioned for the Stratford Festival, which is sort of the epitome of classical Theatre in Canada. And I was accepted because they were doing a musical back here they were doing. It was Cabaret, I believe in the first year. And so I was dance captain, in other words, assistant to the director, although that was already an assistant to the director, and choreographer. But that, to me, it was like, again, I’m at the Stratford Festival when my theatrical agent from my agent called me to say, you’ve got a position in Stratford, I burst into tears. Because, again, I guess I always had low expectations of myself. But that was an amazing, again, I saw it not so much as a fit a complete, but an opportunity to immerse myself into more classical theater and keep learning and, and see where that takes me. And that was great. But after the first season, I thought, you know, maybe, maybe I should look at film now. You know, Jerry Lewis again. So I moved to LA and started studying there and did some projects, some plays. I was there I think, November till April. And in the last two weeks, My car broke down, like three times. My watch broke. And then I bought a cheap watch. And within a week it broke. And then I borrowed my roommates, I was living with two people, a girl I danced with and her husband, and he loaned me his watch, and it broke. So it was like, I think there’s a message here. This is not the time to be here, maybe. So I basically got into my car, and it broke on the way too. But I drove to Seattle, because I had a friend from theatre school who lived here and stayed with her for a little bit. And though we had toured to Seattle with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and I remember loving it at that time, when I visit my friend visited my friend, Shelley. Again, I fell in love with Seattle. Moved but I couldn’t stay in the US, I was Canadian. So I moved to Vancouver, which was sort of the closest way to come from LA, and started doing some extra work on film. And because I joined the unions, when I was in the ballet, I got really good pay for doing extra work. I remember one film, “We’re No Angels” with Sean Penn, Robert De Niro and Demi Moore. So I was great, you know, getting to hang out with these people. In fact, at one point, Robert De Niro was talking to the director and said, Well, what do you want me to do? And I was standing right there. And he grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and said, you want me to lift them up like this. And I was like, Oh, my God, Robert De Niro is holding me by the shirt by the neck. But I think that was a month of extra work. So background work. And I think I made $5,000 in one month, because we would start we’d get into makeup, like at 6am. And this was an hour, an hour and a half drive, I think, from Vancouver. And then we would work sometimes overtime, the production was a mess. We work until midnight. So I made a lot of money. But you know, that wasn’t it. And then my agent in Toronto, so called and said, Hey, I think I just cast you in a role. Is it you cast me in a role? He said, Yeah, they were looking for someone. And I told them, you’re the guy. And so come on back. So I drove across the country, and then did a musical because though I want it to be a classical actor. Everyone’s at Oh, you can dance? Oh, you can sing Oh, we’ll put you in the musical. And you’ve been a dance captain. Let’s have you be dance captain of this one, which was usually extra pay. So that was great. So again, at 30 I thought I had left to dance, it was off my resume. But it got me so much work for the rest of my career the rest of my life. But anyways, out of that, so there was that production in Toronto. And then I auditioned for the Stratford Festival again, I went back to the Stratford Festival, again, same kind of story worked with some amazing people. And out of that, I’m trying to think of the sequence of events, but not that it matters. A friend said, they’re starting a new production of the Phantom of the Opera. And they’re doing auditions in Toronto, and you should audition. There’s a part just for you. So I audition for Phantom with Hal Prince and Jillian Lynn’s assistant took me aside and she said Mr. Prince loves your work, but you’re just too slight for the part because it was the slave masters You know, it goes shirtless in a kilt and he’s all muscular and I’ve always been rather trim. So I didn’t get the part, but she said I’ll be in touch. Within a week or two of the Stratford Festival season, finishing, she called me in for an interview and said, we’re starting new production, because by then that was the production that happens in Toronto, and I did not get in. But she said, we’re starting a whole new production for the road, it’s going to tour all over Canada. And I’d like you to be my assistant. But you’ll have to sell yourself to Garth Stravinsky, who was the producer, so I was terrified of that, had an interview with him. And I made it so I became at the time assistant artistic director. But I was on the road alone. So eventually, and that was for six years. Eventually, in I parlayed my contract into becoming an Associate Director, even again, as I was alone on the road. And in fact, the last production took a break at some point, and I remounted the new production that went to Hong Kong into Alaska. Oh, and we went to Hawaii with Phantom of the Opera. I was director and I met up with the mother of one of my housemates when I was in theater school in London. She was the director of the dance program at the University of Hawaii. And I was looking to hire someone to teach ballet classes to our ballerinas from Phantom of the Opera. So we had lunch. And I was telling her that, you know, I’ve been doing this for a while now. And maybe it was time for me to do something else. And I would love to go back to school. And she said, Do you know about Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, so they’ll give you they’ll give you credits just for your experience as a director. So this was in November, I wrote a letter to the chair of the dance department at Cornish. And on January 11th, I started as a student at Cornish College of the Arts. Because the program, as I said, in at the Canadian college dance in Toronto, was an associate degree. So by going to Cornish, I would get a full BFA in the arts. So I did that in a year. And then the Royal Winnipeg Ballet called and said, you know what, we have one of our main teachers who’s going off on maternity leave, would you come back to Winnipeg and at the time, I had no other plans. So that? Sure. So I moved back to Winnipeg across the country in my car again, and started teaching in the what’s recreational department, so I was teaching musical theater and jazz and beginner ballet. And it was great. It was a lot of work. But I loved it. And then my paycheck came in with this can’t be real, can it? So I went and talked to the manager, I had negotiated over the phone with this woman who was the manager of the school, and the first salary she’d offered, I said, but that’s ridiculous. I can’t move back for that amount. So we agreed on a salary. I don’t even remember what it was. But when my paycheck came, it was completely ridiculous. So I went to the company manager of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. And by the way, that woman was relieved of her duties. She was fired the week after I arrived, but we had not signed any contract. It was all verbal agreement. So the manager, I told him what we had agreed on, he said, Oh, no, no, no, no, we don’t pay that well here. So I basically then gave my notice immediately. But I wanted to give them time. So I gave them two months’ notice to say you have to find a new teacher, this is not going to work for me. And one of the students in the professional program, said, Did you do you know people at the University of Alberta because they’re looking for a professor? That sounds like it’s just you because it’s someone to who has movement background, but it’s teaching actors. So I suppose they had a finger in both pies. And I applied and they went Yes, you’re exactly who we need. Exactly we want so I stayed in Winnipeg a little longer. And in September started teaching at the University of Alberta. And that was a wonderful experience. I got to direct shows and choreograph create new projects for the actors. It was quite fabulous. But I didn’t care for the city. It’s northern Canada. It’s very cool. I remember being there on tour back in the 80s, thinking, How can people live here? It’s so freezing. It’s so cold. It’s so desolate, which it’s not. It’s a rich city, but it was very cold. And so coincidentally, things have just fallen into my lap, who, incidentally, the chair at Cornish made contact and said, we have a position open, would you like to come back to Seattle to teach and the college? So I said, Yes, Yes, I would. I had to submit a video and I didn’t get it right away. But I resubmitted lighter, and then got the position. So I became at first an associate professor at Cornish. And then I applied and became a full professor at Cornish. And then I’ve been teaching there. Seven years, I think, when I asked the Chair, if I could take a leave of absence, I need to take a break. And I thought, I’ve never lived in New York, I want to go to New York and experience that I’ll just go spend a couple of months in New York. And the chairs said, Well, I would let you go except that I’m taking a sabbatical. So if you want to chair or co-chair, the department with this other faculty member, then you’ll get a break when I come back. So my last semester at Corniche, at that time, I co-chaired the department. And in the middle of that out of nowhere, I got a phone call from someone who had seen that I had known he was a student of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet when I was a soloist. So we have that age difference. But he was an artistic director by now of Cirque de Soleil, and he said, I’m being promoted to a new position. And I’m thinking, I’ve seen what you’ve done at Phantom of the Opera, you’d be perfect for this show. It’s very theatrical. So again, I was recruiting for Cornish in California, where that show was playing. I went and saw the show. I was in tears. I fell in love with the show is so amazing. And so the director said, well, let’s go speak to the manager right now. I want her to meet you. So we came into her office, and she said, Oh, is this the person? And so then I had another interview with my superior on zoom with all these people. It wasn’t him at the time of Skype sitting around a conference table, and I couldn’t see them, but they could see me. Well, I could see there were people there. But there were so tiny. You know, there were probably five people interviewing me. But anyways, I got that job. And so I told the chair at Cornish. Yes, I’m ready for that leave now. So I was really just on a leave from Cornish when I took the job at Cirque de Soleil. And that was very challenging, but also mind blowing. It was so amazing. The Yeah, amazing people, the we call ourselves a traveling family. And I think we had 17 nationalities in our show. And we were touring all over. So partway through that, I guess about when it was nearing my year of absence of leave of absence, the chair called and said, Are you ready to come back? I’m sensing maybe you’re not quite ready. By the way that it happened earlier at the University of Alberta as well. I took a leave and that’s how I came to Cornish. But that’s another story too. I have so many other stories. That so touring with tip today as artistic director was fantastic. I took I told the chair at corners eventually. No, I want to follow this. So I stayed as artistic director. And then like got burnt out because I was putting in pretty much 70 hours a week. I had when we were in Japan for eight months I think and I love Japan I’d go back anymore. The It was very hard just work. We did 10 shows a week I was I think I had 71 artists under my guard and a staff of 17 from head of medicine, physiotherapy, head of wardrobe, head coach, associate coaches and captains, an assistant director, it was our stage managers, senior stage managers. So that ended after about two and a half years and then it was like I need a break, I moved to California, a friend had just lost their husband and said, please come stay with. So I moved to California to stay with this friend. And within I think five weeks. The guy who used to be a student at the Ron take ballet and had been the artistic director without a replace that solei was now a senior artistic director overlooking several shows. He said, No, it wasn’t him, he had someone contact me from casting to say, I think the rod would be right for this role. So it was a principal role, in “Saltimbanco” the role of the Baron. And so I had to provide a videotape, I had to memorize this amazingly difficult at the time, to me, a couple of pages of gibberish that had to fit within a musical score. And But anyways, I provided my video. And as soon as I sent it, I thought, Oh, how embarrassing, they must be laughing their heads off. And then the phone rang. And they said, We want you to take the parts. So within a few months, I went to Montreal for training. And I joined the company in Brussels, and toured for two years to probably 40 countries, we did a new country every week. And that, love that role. I loved being an artist again, because you show up, you do your makeup, you do your show, you go home, you’re done, as opposed to managing people and thinking of budget and all of that. So I was back to performing which was great. But the show had already been on the road for more than 20 years now. So the show closed. So I moved back to Seattle, which was home, I still had a home here, my condominium. And I let people know that I was in town. And Cornish called and said, Well, we have an opening. It’s temporary, but would you like to take it and I did. And so I was back to being a professor at Cornish College of the Arts. And I stayed there with you aside 2012 2012 I finish Saltimbanco in Montreal. So it’s the beginning of 2013. I was back in town. I did some choreography at Cornish then it became a part time and then I went full time. And then I became an instructor which was a step down. And I kept saying I’m on. I’m working towards janitor, because I wanted to experience everything. But anyways, all of that took me to the beginning of COVID. I’ve told you my whole life story in such a short time, the beginning of COVID I was teaching in the theater department and in the dance department. And so the last six weeks of the semester, the spring semester of 2020 a year ago, I was teaching out of my living room on Zoom. And oh my goodness, that was difficult. Because there were at the time, I think Zoom wasn’t that actually wasn’t even Zoom. We were doing it on Google Meet, because that’s the contract but the college had. And so I was trying to give people corrections, as I was observing them on my small screen one at a time with a time delay. So I think it was frustrating for everyone. And I told the chair that I would take the fall off. And so I did last fall, and now we’re into spring and I haven’t and I don’t think I’m going back because I’ve discovered coactive life coaching and in fact I started life coaching or coaching, studying coaching. In 2018 I attended one of those long weekend workshops from CTI – Coaches Training Institute and quite loved that and right away the leaders said start coaching it’s the best way to get your practice so I was giving away coaching to friends to practice and then I assisted one of those weekends again in Seattle probably a year or so later. And one of the leaders of time said you know you should go into the leadership program which is a different it’s still CTI, but it’s a different program. And I went to that and loved that as well. And that’s a one-year program. It’s, I think, very expensive. It’s four retreats in California, which is beautiful. But the day that we finished our training in California, basically the city of San Francisco, closed down because of COVID. So the program has been put on hold until 2022. But in the meantime, I discovered positive intelligence, Shirzad Chamine. So I’ve been taking courses in that by video, and I’ve dedicated myself strictly to coaching and studying that. So I’ve got a few clients now. And I’m absolutely loving the experience. I do not miss teaching, I do not miss dance, I miss seeing all of it. And then I was speaking to a friend who used to be a performer as well, just a couple of days ago, who said that he really missed performing. And I thought, you know, if the Baron and Saltimbanco came back up, I would jump at it, because such a fantastic role. And well, I guess I enjoy touring. But I also enjoy being home. And I said enough.
Harald Krytinar 36:06
Well, enough is not the right word. But I think it’s so fascinating. There was you said at some point, though, I don’t let you ask any questions. And I’m just thinking, well, there was no need to ask any I think you made it seem so smooth. And yeah, it was very captivating the way you presented in the world. Sounded like a big movie. What came to my mind? Actually, you know, because the question is always about career development. This is what I’m trying to angle it. But when I hear you It sounds so one thing flowing into the next. And I just wonder is that because it’s now in hindsight, that’s how it seems. I mean, you know, now looking back, it seems like, you know, something that adds up. But looking into the future, I mean, didn’t seem all that clear for you. I had a hard time actually guessing if, if you if you just got lucky and tumbled into your luck, or if it was like, you know, strategy and trying to calculate what was coming next. What was it I had a hard time actually putting my finger on it? How much luck? How much planning how much? I don’t know, just working for it?
Gérard Théorêt 37:23
That’s a very, very good question. I there’s no question. I think that’s so funny. I think I’ve had a blessed life, I think, but but people told me you should write a book about your life because oh, my goodness, you lost your parents when you were young. You had no money. You couldn’t even take classes in town because you lived in the country. I’ve had some injuries, and all of that. And since you asked the question, Now, the first thing that went to mind was like, Oh, yes, those years when I was an actor, after every show close, I thought I’ll never work again. And of course, that was always depressing. So yes, you’re absolutely right. Looking in hindsight, it looks so easy. One thing tumbled into the next. But it wasn’t like that. At the time I panicked. And as I said, I you know, I would cry about this, I would get depressed about this or that I would have blue days for sure. And if there’s one message I want to share about those blue days, I’ve discovered I discovered this a few years ago, and now I’m using it as a coach is when you’re blue and when you’re depressed. Just smile. And it changes everything. just smiling. Physiologically it changes your state of mind. You You can’t be angry when you’re smiling. I almost put an H in there. That’s my French, hangry, angry. But yes, no, it’s a good question. It was not that easy, of course. But looking back, I like to focus on the positive, of course.
Harald Krytinar 39:03
Well, of course, you say, of course, but it’s a choice that’s what you chose to do. I guess he could have, you know vamped up the drama as well. If you if that was your choice. I’m sure there was enough of that as well. Like you said times where it wasn’t where it was tough. You know where it was just it didn’t look, it didn’t look good. It wasn’t good. Right? And you still have to get on with it. There are two questions. Actually, I would like to ask you the first one is what made you continue despite the odds you like even when you said when he said with the first job with the company, you were clearly told: Well, actually a bit too old for this. But he didn’t walk away. He but at the same time you were realistic enough for me You managed so it seemed that there was a funny mix between not being turned down by somebody who has an opinion and obviously wasn’t some power. But secondly, it was you being determined enough with enough realism to do the work to actually get where you want to get. So I just want How did you find that balance between, you know, being intelligent about the odds?
Gérard Théorêt 40:04
Again, you ask good questions that bring up all sorts of images in my brain. I think very early on, I, I decided that I would be different. I would not be like, where I grew up. I mean, though, you know, we had a big farm. We never lacked really well, I could go on about that. But anyways, I thought I want to be different. So throughout my life, I’ve wanted to be different. I wanted to be just, I didn’t want to be the same as everyone else. So that there was that I think that spurred on the next step. But also, I don’t know where in my career or life, I decided this, but I have a motto printed back somewhere in my brain that says, you can always click tomorrow. But for today, keep going. And so I think I’ve always kept going, just till the next day. I mean, I remember. Yeah, I remember being in college, actually. And I got shin splints, like when I was starting to dance. And that was, so I couldn’t I was told I had to stop for a week. And I basically, I was living in a house with rooms, so I only had a room, a kitchenette room. And I did not talk to anyone. And the college got quite nervous and sent someone looking after me. Yeah, those were hard times. So I’m not sure what brought me back. I think I just spoke to myself and shut myself up and go, go on one more day. You can quit tomorrow, but do today. So I think there’s been some of that throughout. And then I guess there is the if I look back. So well. I never thought that I would even move to Toronto, I mean, even like moving to Toronto, to go to college. And it was dance and theater. And we had to read a Shakespeare play every week, every two weeks. So they ended up and I barely understood the language, a friend still makes fun of me. She said, when I first got to college, she’s she rambled. She talks fast. And she rambled off a sentence to me. And I said, Can you say that again, more slow. That’s my level of English. So So there were challenges. So I would read Shakespeare and I would just read through and say, I’ll get what I get out of it. I can’t analyze every word it would take a year. But it was Yeah, consistency and just go on.
Harald Krytinar 42:58
That there was something else that picked up. And I would like to ask you about that. Because in the different elements of in the different phases of your life. And also the way one thing led to another. There was something really strongly sticking out for me, which were those personal relationships you seem to have built over the years. You moved around the North, you said all the countries, you know, in two years, 40 countries and everything. So you were on the move all the time. And yet, I have this feeling that you seem very rude today, I have a feeling that you there’s a lot of people that are I don’t maybe not physically close, but I feel that you’ve really connected with people. How do you How did you develop that? Is that right already? But what I’m perceiving Is that something you actively tried to develop? Is it something that you just naturally attract people? I don’t know, how did you manage to you know, despite this, many travels to still, you know, connect with people and such, not just on a practical level, it seems.
Gérard Théorêt 43:58 it’s interesting, because that came up in a conversation with a friend last night.
Harald Krytinar 44:02
I swear wasn’t there…
Gérard Théorêt 44:06
It was a Zoom -it was a FaceTime call, but the friend said, said you know I’m such a disagreeable person. I’m so demanding. I’m so high maintenance. I’m so I’m so I’m so but he said I can’t imagine anyone would think that of you. He said, I know there are people around the world talking about me. deprecating me right now, but I can’t imagine that about you. And I said, Oh, no, I think I could think of a few. But I think I’ve always made an effort to keep in touch with people. And I’m not sure where that came from. But recently I was emptying boxes and boxes of correspondence that I have kept for years. When I move. I move these boxes with me without opening them. And I’ve just started opening them. I have correspondence like a romantic letter from somewhere. But I don’t remember, in the 70s. So I’m a packrat, although I’m beginning to shed, so I’ve always kept in touch with people. And I’m wondering if part of it is because with my family, I have five siblings, I’m the one who moved away. They are all within an hour of each other. So I’ve always reached out to them, I’ve always been the one to write letters, the one to make the phone call the one to travel to visit with them, because they wouldn’t come this far. They have their families, etc. Also, being single, I’m more mobile, than, than my siblings who have others or significant others or family, and now they have grandkids. But yes, I’ve always made an effort to keep in touch with people. And whether that’s been letters or letters don’t happen so much anymore. Although emails do so it’s the same thing.
Harald Krytinar 46:03
I’m wondering also for you, you said, you know, early 30s, you sort of quit dance. And I just wonder if you look back at that time, you went back on stage as an artist and movement was always a very strong element in the work you did, even as an actor, you said, you know, he went into musicals and everything, so the physical aspect of your work, even later on was, was something very present. But it isn’t quite the same as being a full-time ballet dancer in that sense. But I wonder, you know, was there a moment where you felt that you retired… that you left that ballet dance behind? Or was it something that just developed with you over time? I mean, where’s the ballet dancer inside of you today?
Gérard Théorêt 46:42
You know, I think I left. I left that guy behind many, many times. And he keeps coming back. And he’s, he’s, he’s a rich guy in inexperience in discernment in artistry. What you learn as a ballet dancer, the rigorous training, the commitment, the perseverance, to dedication, I think that’s you build that in the first year of your training. So I think that has always stayed with me. And yes, I’ve always tried to run away from it. And I’m at a point now, though, which I thought would never happen. Well, I can go back just a little bit to, to that. That’s not a little bit, it’s a long bit, to leaving dance to go into acting. I thought, I will never get the high on stage that I had from dancing in principal roles or, or doing a character role. But it but it has, I’ve had some highs as an actor, or as a solo performer, as a choreographer, as a director. Maybe they’re not exactly the same. But but the they are out there. So I guess my, my message would be, don’t be afraid to turn the page and try something new. What needs to follow you will follow. But why not try something new? I mean, I’m in. I guess, now that I’ve passed the halfway mark. I’m now in my late 60s. And I’ve just discovered a new career coaching. Yeah, mental fitness, life coaching. And I tried to convince people my age – a Coach friend sent me a draft of a book is just written, and I haven’t had time to read it yet, but I love the title. It’s f Asterix ck retirement. So there’s no reason to retire. Unless that’s what you want. And no one should judge you if you want to. to retire great. For me, it was not I did not want to get a rocking chair, and sit on my balcony and watch the people walk by. So I think learning has been the greatest quest of my life, to keep learning to just keep growing. And that is hope. And you should always have hope in your life. Did I answer your question?