Ludmilla Chiriaeff

1924-1996

Ludmilla Chiriaeff 1924-1996

1978 Cultural Cultural

Born in Riga, the capital of Latvia, Ludmilla Chiriaeff took her first dance class at the age of six.

She moved to Quebec in 1952 and formed her own dance company, Les Ballets Chiriaeff, which got off the ground thanks to 300 TV shows she collaborated on with Radio-Canada.

In 1958, Les Ballets Chiriaeff became Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. The professional training academy she founded the same year became, due to her lofty ambitions, the Académie des Grands Ballets Canadiens, with Ms. Chiriaeff at the helm.

During the 1966-67 season, at the request of Quebec’s cultural arts ministry, the Ministère des Affaires culturelles du Québec, Ms. Chiriaeff created the École supérieure de danse. A natural extension of the Académie des Grands Ballets Canadiens, the school’s purpose was to train teachers, choreographers and professional dancers.

With the two schools in place, recruiting the best dancers from across Quebec, the future of dance was assured, because any Quebec resident who met the requirements could receive their education for free.

Ms. Chiriaeff’s interest in dance went beyond teaching. From 1971 to 1976, she was the general chairperson of the dance federation the Fédération des Loisirs-Danse du Québec. She also served regularly as a jury member for the international ballet competition in Varna, Bulgaria (1972-1976). She was a frequent lecturer on dance, both in Montréal and abroad.

Ms. Chiriaeff began to receive prestigious honours and awards in 1957. In1980, she received the Prix Denise-Pelletier for performing arts, awarded by the Government of Québec. She was also made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1984.

In 1981, two projects marked the culmination of a 25-year-old dream: the May 12 opening of the Maison de la Danse, the cornerstone of a concept integrating training, creation and production, and, in October, the creation of the Ludmilla Chiriaeff Foundation to award dance scholarships. A true pioneer in dance in Quebec, Ms. Chiriaeff created a future for dance in Quebec through her tireless efforts that stretched over more than 30 years and through the choreography of over 300 works.

Ludmilla Chiriaeff was named a member of the academy of Great Montrealers in 1978.

Source: Ordre national du Québec

Photo Credit : Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal