Beautiful Ballet Couples: Heather Ogden and Guillaume Cote (Principals with The National Ballet of Canada)
Married in 2010
Heather Ogden and Guillaume Côté met when they were just 17 and 16. Both had just joined the National Ballet of Canada and former artistic director James Kudelka quickly coupled the dancers to work together on several performances.
“There were a lot of stage moments when I felt like our relationship was deeper than what it was,” Côté, 30, says. “We have a chemistry on stage and you’d get lost in things sometimes.”
“I remember during the rehearsals for Romeo and Juliet [in 2002], I started getting a crush on her. You kind of go, ‘Well, I’m doing Romeo and maybe I’ve just blended into the character.’ I remember after performances having a hard time just letting her go.”
“He wasn’t very subtle about it either,” Ogden adds. “I could always tell.”
“He’s got that French thing going on,” Ms. Ogden teases him. “He’s not shy.” She flicks her glance to him again. “He’s a flirt.”
Regardless of Côté’s crush, a romance did not immediately bloom. The pair worked together for years. They dated others. Côté was promoted to principal dancer at the company in 2004, and Ogden the year after.
Then in the summer of 2006, something changed. Côté had been absent for periods at a time, performing with American Ballet Theatre.
“There were times when it would cross my mind having a relationship, but I would always wave it away,” Ogden says during a break from rehearsals. “When he was away somewhere I thought, ‘Why am I missing him? That’s not normal.’”
Côté then returned from a trip in New York and the pair went to a pub near Ogden’s apartment to catch up. “I think it started with a kiss. Nobody asked anyone out. It was just, ‘OK, this is happening,’ ” the Toronto-born ballerina says. “I remember thinking, ‘If we dated, it will either be disaster or we’ll get married.’ ”
Côté asked her to marry him on a bridge across from the Ponte Vecchio in Florence in 2009.
Did he get down on one knee?
“Both knees,” he says.
“It was pretty storybook romance, and Guillaume started acting really weird, ” Ms. Ogden says, giggling. “He started fumbling with his bag, and I’m like, ‘Oh my God!’”
“You people have no idea how stressful it is,” Mr. Côté explains, shaking his head; miffed at our hilarity over his engagement nerves.
“Some people have love at first sight but most people get there gradually and it’s a combination of seeing so many parts of a person,” Ogden says. “We’re so focused and concentrated [at the company] and spending downtime together, we had so much fun. We’re both kind of silly.”
Côté notes that when they were frist dating, she supported him through a stress fracture in his leg. “I was going through one of the hardest time of my career and she was there every step of the way,” he says. “It’s easy to love someone when they’re at their greatest. But it’s hard to be loyal to that love when …”
“The for better and for worst, is that what you mean?” she asks him. They laugh. “When I dance with Heather, I want to take care of her, I want to make sure that she has the greatest show she can. And she thinks the same with me. It makes for a really special performance.”
Ogden adds: “I get to kiss the person on stage that I’m with.”
Still, that doesn’t mean they don’t need to act on stage, even if they’re often portraying lovers. “The last time we didRomeo and Juliet, we were involved [romantically]and Magdalena Popa [principal artistic coach]told us we were being too familiar, too real, too smooth, and that it had to be more awkward,” says Mr. Côté. “You’re Romeo, a 15-year-old boy. You’re not Guillaume who’s a 28-year-old in love with the person he works with.”
Ms. Ogden smiles shyly again. And how old is she?
“Twenty-nine,” she says with exaggerated dismay.
“Yeah,” says Mr. Côté, just under his breath. “She’s an older woman. A cougar!”
She bats him on the knee. Laughs. “Oh, don’t get him started!”
John Lowe, 91 years old
A former prisoner of war and grandfather to 11, John decided to start taking ballet at age 79 after attending a granddaughter’s recital.
Remember it’s never too late to start enjoying the benefits of ballet!
This is an 88 year old beginner ballet dancer! He decided to start ballet after watching his grand daughter.