A Ballet Love Story•
Posted on February 14 2021
Hi you guys!
In time for Valentines day, I wanted to share and give the stage to Maude Sabourin (aka @thefitballerina) to take us through her ballet love story, with her husband Melih Mertel (@melihmertel). They have the most beautiful love story and they are such a power couple, as well as beautiful people and dancers. Enjoy the read! N
Melih Mertel (L) Maude Sabourin (R) both pictures by Sasha Onyshchenko
I gave a lot of thought on how I would start this article. What to say about the loves of my life, my husband and dance. I asked myself, how come they blend together so smoothly. Mixing personal life and professional life isn’t a good idea some might say. I say, it is our biggest strength. Melih and I come from very different cultures. He was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey and I, in Terrebonne, Canada. As he grew up there, his mom decided to sign him up for ballet lessons. Eleven years old, an innocent boy trying it out to see if the shoe fits, and it did! He was immediately bit by the ballet bug! Unfortunately, ballet lessons are costly and his parents, having four kids, couldnt afford more lessons for him. Melih took it upon himslef to solve that problem and decided to sell rice in the streets of Istanbul to make enough money to pay for the extra lessons. Working during the nights so he could dance during the day. He was noticed as a very talented boy. He started his career at 21 years old and he became a big star in Turkey. I noticed first hand how he was praised by the public and valued by his collegues. At some point in his career, he decided to go abroad and dance internationally. First Washington DC, then Monaco, where he would meet his future wife… me! :) For my part, I come from a family of dancers. My parents were both ballroom dancers and they’ve danced together since the age of 15 years old. I got the dancer gene from them for sure! Whenever there is a wedding in the familly, my dad is the attraction of the night! All the ladies dance with him, but he always saves the last dance for my mother! I love when I get to see them dance, It’s so beautiful and instinctive. So I started dancing when I was very little. Three years old to be exact. I remember my first time on stage vividly… I stopped in the middle of the stage and cried… I was mortified. I hated it! Who would have thought in that moment that I would actually have a career! So as you can see, I continued dancing. I loved it more and more. I loved the freedom it gave me. I still do. From little competitions to professional ballet school to professional ballet company, I followed my path with one goal in mind, becoming the best artist I can be. At the age of 18 years old, I moved to Monaco to start dancing for the famous company Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo. I was so excited to start my jourmey there, and grow there. Little did I know that I would meet the most fabulous man and that he would one day, become my husband. Melih arrived in Monte-Carlo in 2015, as he was taking a sabbatical year from his permanent position in Istanbul. It was already my 9th season with the company. I remember the very first day at work. I always arrive early to hangout in the studio, and there he was, in my favoutite corner. This prime real estate of the studio, where the morning sunshine gently warms your face up. He was listening to music, as he always does, and he said hello with this huge smile! The biggest smile you’ve ever seen! At that time, I wasn’t available to date, so we grew apart for a while. Later in the season, as I became available, Melih started to show his interest. I have to say that at that moment, I wasn’t interested, but he was persistent and very convicing! So we did end up goig on a date. Unfortnunately for us, Melih found out that he was forced to go back to Turkey at the end of the current season if he didnt want to loose his permanent position. Dating suddenly became complicated because I knew that he would be gone at the end of the season. We saw each other anyway and what I thought to be more of a casual dating situation became a true love story! We fell deeply in love with one another. Our goodbyes were heartbreaking… I didnt know when we could see eachother again. No matter the distance, We flew between countries whenever we could to spend a bit of time together! He somtimes joined me on tour. I sometimes went for only two days just to hold him in my arms. I think this period was probably the most romantic of my life! All the precious moments together were so intense. Our love kept growing and growing!
Evidently, after 2 years, distance takes its toll on a relationship. We decided that we wanted to be together and that we wanted to make it work. We flew one summer to Montreal so that we could try to get a position in the company together. He met my family, he proposed to me… We were on cloud nine! We didn’t know what the future had in store for us but we knew that for sure, we would go through it holding hands. We jumped together in the unknown because we knew that we were a team. We share the same passion for life and the same commitment to what we love. We’ve been living in Montreal for now two years and a half. We are happy here. We both got a job in the company, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. We make our way through life as a team… it’s like a life long pas de deux… When you trust your partner, you can really let go and be yourself and you know that the other will be there no matter what happens. I said in the begining that I thought being together in and out of stage was our biggest strength because, as artists, we feel intensly, we live unappologetically, we commit wholeheartedly and having someone by your side that needs no explanation for it is the biggest gift we found!
Melin Mertel & Maude Sabourin, photo by Sasha Onyshchenko
Happy Valentines Day to the happy couple! It’s funny how we think we know where life and love are taking us but I guess the universe turns us in unexpected directions. Thanks for sharing your story. It was a long read for Instagram but well worth it!