Les Feux Follets started as an amateur group. They became professional in 1964 and reached their apogee during the 1967 World Exhibition in Montreal where, for the six months that lasted the Exhibition, they performed daily in the Canadian Government Pavilion.
While they were still an amateur group, the Company's repertoire was already representative of « the cultural diversity of Canadians and Neo-Canadians, with over one hundred dances and some 300 costumes ».
At that time, Les Sortilèges were still amateurs and just initiating their first steps. They were quickly to become one of the finest gems of Quebec's dance world and to move therefrom to the professional stage.
For many years, the amateur Company, in partnership with Quebec's State Secretariat and the Ministry of Immigration, implemented cultural exchanges with our cultural communities, through the organization of performances, festivals, workshops and exhibitions.
When it was founded in 1966, 45 dancers, all high school students, formed the core of the Company. In 1977, along with a few dancers - all high school and Cegep students interested in research and teaching - Jimmy Di Genova founded the Marius-Barbeau Documentation Center.
From the very beginning, the Center benefited from a double inheritance Michel Cartier's Feux Follets archives as well as those kept by Jimmy Di Genova.
Les Sortilèges have performed at Expo '67; for the opening ceremony of the 1976 Olympic Games; the Vancouver Expo in '86; The Calgary Olympics in '88, the Seville Expo in 1992 …and in Canada, the United-States, Mexico, Martinique, Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, England, Bulgaria, Turkey, Israel, Malaysia and Japan.
Following Michel Cartier's departure in 1968, Les Feux Follets attempted to survive but the Company finally dismantled at the beginning of the Seventies.
On the occasion of its 20th Anniversary in 1986, Les Sortilèges became the Ensemble National de Folklore Les Sortilèges In 1993, the Company was comprised of 24 professional dancers – without mentioning the students - and of more than 2000 costumes. Jimmy Di Genova went into retirement after 33 years as Director General and Artistic Director of the Company. He nevertheless kept on helping and cooperating with the Company until 2001. Since then, the Company has been calling itself Les Sortilèges Danses du Monde and is comprised of six to eight dancers.
Montreal's bilingualism and cultural multiplicity have no doubt contributed in the emergence of unique cultural phenomenons that have enriched both Quebec and Canada.As a matter of fact, Montreal has the highest preservation rate, in all of Canada, of both its original languages.It should therefore come as no surprise that the city gave birth to two exceptional dance companies, both intent on developing a cultural dialogue,here as well as abroad.
Each, in its own way, acted as forerunner to our cultural renewal.In spite of the poverty of funding, they gave folklore – as popular art and inexhaustible source of inspiration for various other forms of art - its place in the sun as an art of the stage.
In its very personal way and according to its director's artistic sensibility, each company contributed in bringing out Quebecois tradition by translating it into scenic language. They also helped in diffusing the knowledge of that tradition throughout Canada and abroad, while reflecting Montreal's and Canada's mosaic in all of its splendid diversity.