by Marian Sarstädt, former dancer and former artistic director
Photo Marian Sarstädt, Gérard Lemaître: Ger van Leeuwen
Gérard Lemaître. A highly cherished person. A dancer with charisma and an overwhelming stage presence. Above all, a wonderful person with a great sense of humour. Gérard was already with Nederlands Dans Theater when I joined in 1962. The company was known for its rebellious character and a challenging attitude towards notions of dance. Once, when I was putting on my pointe shoes after class, because I wanted to continue practising my classical techniques, one of the other dancers reproached me: “We don’t do that anymore.” Gérard perfectly understood that I did this anyway; that I wanted to dance barefoot, as well as on pointe.
He and I developed a special bond. I was fairly fluent in French and was able to understand his subtle and witty sense of humour. We gravitated towards each other and became inseparable. When Job Sanders retired, and Jaap Flier was winding down his career, it made sense for Gérard to become my regular partner. Our repertoire at the time contained a lot of pieces for couples, especially in the work by Hans van Manen. Alexandra and Han, and us, Marian and Gérard – we were this kind of holy quadruplicate in Hans’ choreographies. As we were always paired together, the audience also assumed we were a married couple. An idea that was quite convenient sometimes. Whenever we were on tour, Gérard would get a lot of adoring fans pursuing him, and if he wasn’t interested he could simply say: “No, no, I’m married.” When he did meet someone he fancied, I had to come and reassure: “No, we are not married, he is actually free to do what he wants.”A free man. A special man. Gérard Lemaître. A man that stays – who continues to linger through dance, memory and thoughts.