Training full-time together at Institut National du Sport du Québec (INS-Quebec) in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, Canada’s National Artistic Swimming team is working alongside four outstanding choreographers to prepare for the upcoming season.
Leading the team choreography is Russia’s 4-time Olympic gold medalist, Anastasia Ermakova. Working with the Canadians for the first time, Ermakova was delighted to engage with a powerful team of creative and motivated athletes. Bringing her experience as an elite competitor for Russia, and a coach/choreographer with Italian, Austrian and Kazakhstan athletes, she was excited to work with a team building a vibrant future together.
Using a blend of orchestral music, the free routine theme revolves around the spectrum of time and illustrates how our lives progress through a continuum of movements. Striving to explore a unique look for the Canadian squad, the routine features dynamic movements with explosive bursts that show the height, speed and vertical positions of the team. During competition, Ermakova wants the judges to be able to clearly see the quality in every element, and she took that into account as the routine was being developed. The six highlights are a mixture of throws, rotations and lifts demonstrating flexibility, creativity and height and incorporating all of the feedback received to achieve the highest difficulty standards of the sport.
The technical routine, performed to a modern interpretation of traditional ethnic music, has been constructed to demonstrate and highlight the superior technical element skills of the team.
Ermakova’s goal, consistent with that of head coach Gábor Szauder, is to create a WOW impact from the first competition of the season through to the Pan American Games. As she says, “these are beautiful, strong athletes, and as soon as they appear, I want everybody to start talking about the Canadian team, and the level that they are at.”
With both the FINA World Championships (Gwangju, South Korea) and the Pan American Games (Lima, Peru) taking place in July, the Canadian team members are excited to see their programs taking shape. “It’s been an amazing experience working with Anastasia these past two weeks,” stated team veteran Claudia Holzner. “Her creative process is something that we have never seen before. Collaborating with her on a daily basis has been an amazing opportunity and Canada is fortunate to have such a brilliant mind working with us! In just 10 days with her, we created two stunning routines that we are extremely excited to share with the world over the next year.”
Canada’s soloists, Jacqueline Simoneau and Halle Pratt, have also been working on their programs for the upcoming season.
Jacqueline teamed up with long-time coach and choreograph Johana Vasquez, from Synchro Laval, close to Montreal. Vasquez first worked with Simoneau when she was 10 years old and was her coach when she burst onto the international scene by winning gold in solo at the 2010 Comen Cup in Greece. The pair has worked together on many successful programs since and have built a routine for the 2019 season that will be like no other free solo Simoneau has swum before.
Choreographing solo routines for Halle Pratt is Jenn Tregale, Head Coach of the Calgary Aquabelles. The two have worked together, along with other choreographers, since 2011 and over the years have created six free routines and two technical routines. After Pratt’s successful freshman season on the international senior scene in 2018, they have paired up again, with the help of Calgary’s Courtenay Grant, to rework Pratt’s technical and free routines for the 2019 season.
World-renowned Canadian choreographer and Olympic coach Denise Sauvé has also been working with the Canadian squad, bringing new life to the duet technical and free routines, slated to be performed by Claudia Holzner, Halle Pratt, and Jaqueline Simoneau. The routines have been completely revamped and brought to an entirely new level of technicality and artistry.
Sauvé, who works regularly with Cirque du Soleil, will bring her extensive acrobatic experience to build Team Canada’s brand-new highlight routine that will be presented at the 2019 FINA Artistic Swimming World Series events and the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships.
Canada Artistic Swimming thanks all the choreographers for their hard work and commitment to the team’s success in 2019.