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March 14th, 2024

Conversation on Ludmilla Chiriaeff

A captivating exploration of her life and legacy

The École supérieure de ballet du Québec is delighted to invite you to a special evening: an intimate conversation about Ludmilla Chiriaeff, an emblematic figure of professional dance in Quebec. In collaboration with Les Grands Ballets and in honor of International Dance Day, this event is part of the celebrations surrounding the 100th birthday of Ludmilla Chiriaeff, founder of the École supérieure and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens.

Join us for a talk hosted by Judith Ouimet, with exceptional guests who had the privilege of working with Madame Chiriaeff: Jean Grand-Maître, Katia Mead, Jacques Drapeau, Christine Williams and Anik Bissonnette. These privileged witnesses will share their memories and anecdotes, shedding light on the history, personality and vision of Ludmilla Chiriaeff as an artist and pioneer of professional dance in Quebec.

In the spirit of sharing, members of the public will also have the opportunity to take the floor to ask questions or share their own stories about the woman who we respectfully called Madame. Ludmilla Chiriaeff will forever be an icon of Quebec dance. In this year of commemoration, the École supérieure wishes to honor her memory and introduce the public to this great dance personality.

We look forward to welcoming many of you, so that her story, her courage and her passion continue to inspire us all.

Monday, April 29, 6 p.m.
At Studio-Théâtre des Grands Ballets
1435 de Bleury Street, Montreal, QC H3A 2H7
(Place-des-Arts metro station)

Practical information

The activity is free.
Please note that the conversation will be given mainly in French.

Schedule :
5:30 pm - Doors open
6 pm. - Conversation on Ludmilla Chiriaeff (approx. 1h30)

Our panel

Anik Bissonnette, O.C., C.Q., O.M.
Artistic Director, École supérieure de ballet du Québec

An iconic figure in Quebec dance, Anik Bissonnette has been one of the most accomplished and internationally acclaimed Quebec ballerinas for over 30 years. Starting her career at just 17, she quickly conquered the dance world with her impeccable technique. As principal dancer with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, she performed leading roles in some of the world's most renowned ballets. Artistic Director of the École supérieure de ballet du Québec since 2010, she continues the legacy of Ludmilla Chiriaeff, guiding and inspiring future generations of dancers. Her many honors, including the Order of Canada and the Governor General's Performing Arts Award, attest to her exceptional impact on the world of dance and culture in Quebec and beyond.

Jean Grand-Maître
Choreographer and former Artistic Director of Alberta Ballet

Jean Grand-Maître is one of the most renowned Canadian choreographers of his generation. His international reputation has been established with works for prestigious companies such as the National Ballet of Canada and the Paris Opera Ballet. Artistic Director of Alberta Ballet for two decades, he launched a series of highly successful choreographic portraits inspired by the musical universe of legendary singers (Joni Mitchell, Elton John, David Bowie, etc.). Ludmilla Chiriaeff had a major impact on Jean Grand-Maître's career. She recognized his creative potential when he was studying at the École supérieure, and encouraged him to start choreographing, playing a decisive role in the early stages of his career. Today, Jean Grand-Maître is preparing a ballet-tribute to Ludmilla Chiriaeff for the École supérieure and Les Grands Ballets.

Katia Mead
Daughter of Ludmilla Chiriaeff, consultant specializing in international cultural and diplomatic exchanges

Katia Mead is the youngest of Ludmilla Chiriaeff's five children. She was influenced by her mother's passion and dedication to the arts and the development of dance. Her career in international business is guided by the conviction that the arts are an essential pillar of society, helping to forge links across borders. A consultant specializing in international cultural and diplomatic exchanges for over 20 years, Katia Mead is also Honorary President of the Provoquez l'exceptionnel campaign from the Foundation of the École supérieure. She embodies the spirit of leadership and commitment passed on by her mother.

Christine Williams
Associate Director - Teaching Program and Regional Partnerships, École supérieure de ballet du Québec

Christine Williams has dedicated her life to dance, inspired by the vision and teachings of Ludmilla Chiriaeff. Trained at the École supérieure de danse des Grands Ballets Canadiens, she quickly embraced a career as a teacher and performer under Madame Chiriaeff's benevolent guidance. Christine Williams has played a key role in the development of dance in Quebec and Ontario. She has contributed to the development of pedagogical programs and the training of future dance teachers. Associate Director of the Teaching Program and Regional Partnerships at the École supérieure de ballet du Québec, Ms. Williams acts as an examiner and trainer for regional schools. Her dedication to the art of dance and commitment to the transmission of knowledge make her a respected figure in the artistic community.

Jacques Drapeau
Former principal dancer with Les Grands Ballets

Jacques Drapeau was profoundly influenced by Ludmilla Chiriaeff in his career as a dancer. Trained at the École supérieure des Grands Ballets Canadiens, he was encouraged by Madame Chiriaeff to go beyond technique to express his true personality through dance, and to convey emotions to the audience. A principal dancer with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens for many years, he impressed audiences with his versatility and charisma on stage. His career was marked by iconic roles in classical and contemporary ballets, earning him international recognition before his early retirement in 1988.


Judith Ouimet
Comedian and radio/television/web narrator

Ludmilla Chiriaeff guided Judith Ouimet in her dancing career by recruiting her for the Académie des Grands Ballets Canadiens. They later developed a family bond when Judith married Gleb, one of Madame's two sons. A member of the Board of Directors of the École supérieure de ballet du Québec for over 15 years, Judith Ouimet has hardly ever left the world of dance since her first steps as a performer in 1964. After her career as a dancer, she continued to promote her art by hosting Portrait Danse, one of the few radio programs devoted solely to dance, for over 12 years. She then became an actress, narrator and host, and continues to enchant audiences with her distinctive voice, affirming her place among the most remarkable talents in the business.

The École supérieure would like to thank Les Grands Ballets for hosting this event in its Studio-Théâtre.

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