Founded in 1952 by Ludmilla Chiriaeff, and incorporated in 1966 at the request of Québec's Ministry of Cultural Affairs, L’École supérieure de ballet du Québec's mission is to train students to become classical dancers of national and international calibre.
L’École supérieure de ballet du Québec sets the precedent for professional classical ballet training in Québec, and is also known as an establishment where a superior level of dance is perfected, researched and created.
The origins of L’École supérieure de ballet du Québec date back to the early 1950s and coincide with the advent of television in French Canada. It was in response to a contractual commitment with Radio-Canada (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) that Ludmilla Chiriaeff, a Berlin-trained dancer from Russia, founded a ballet company and school. Les Ballets Chiriaeff and its affiliated school opened in 1952 to provide dancers for the variety shows of North America’s first French-language television station.
The company also started to perform on stage and became incorporated under the name Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in 1957. The school catered to both amateurs and dancers aspiring to a career in ballet.
In 1966, Ms. Chiriaeff created the province’s first professional dance school: the Académie des Grands Ballets Canadiens.
In 1973, the school introduced a concentration in ballet at the Pierre Laporte Secondary School. In 1979, the Cégep du Vieux Montréal also became an academic partner of the École supérieure and started offering a three-year technical program in classical dance performance
Ludmilla Chiriaeff retired from ballet instruction in 1992. In 1997, Didier Chirpaz began introducing a series of instructional reforms and experiments. To reflect his avant-garde vision of contemporary ballet, the institution adopted the name École supérieure de ballet contemporain de Montréal in 2006.
Following Mr. Chirpaz’s retirement in 2009, the Board of Directors sought to steer the school back to its original mission of training dancers to master the classical dance technique. To fulfill this request, the Board appointed in 2010 a new Artistic Director, Anik Bissonnette, whose professional credits include being principal dancer with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens for close to seventeen years. In 2011, in order to consolidate its mission, its role in dance development in Québec and its status as a dance leader, the school was renamed L’École supérieure de ballet du Québec.
Anik Bissonnette, Artistic Director
Anik Bissonnette was principal dancer with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal for over 17 years, and her artistry has been extensively showcased both nationally and abroad. Critically acclaimed for her mastery of classical technique and her musical sensibility, Ms. Bissonnette’s involvement with classical and modern dance broadened during her six-year tenure as President of the Regroupement québécois de la danse. Ms. Bissonnette’s career has been distinguished by some of the country’s most prestigious awards, including Officer of the Order of Canada (1995), Knight of the Order of Québec (1996) and the Denise-Pelletier Award (2008). As Artistic Director of L’École supérieure de ballet du Québec since 2010, Ms. Bissonnette is fully devoted to sharing her wisdom and talent with the next generation of dancers, preparing them for a professional future with the most reputable dance companies in the country and around the world.