Ludmilla Chiriaeff (1924-1996)

1993 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Dance)

Destiny, Ludmilla Chiriaeff believes, led her to be a dancer, to survive the loss of her family of brilliant Russian intellectuals and the ravages of a wartime concentration camp, and brought her to Montreal in the early fifties.

Survival gave a profound sense of purpose to her life and Canada has been the fortunate recipient of all she had to offer. In 1956 she began presenting dance to Quebecers through CBC French television. Her ballet productions galvanized the cultural community. Soon Montreal's Mayor Drapeau invited her to create a professional company to rival Toronto's National Ballet, and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens was born.

A dance school to train young Quebec dancers followed, later to become Quebec's École supérieure de danse. Her work eventually became the foundation of classical dance education at all levels in the province.

Throughout, her tireless attitude and her singular determination, driven by her sense of mission, overcame all obstacles. The highest honours, including the Companion of the Order of Canada and Quebec's Prix Denise-Pelletier for the performing arts, have saluted her work.