Jean-Pierre Perreault (1947-2002)

2002 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Dance)

In a career spanning over three decades, Jean-Pierre Perreault was one of the most influential and respected creative forces in Canadian dance, thanks largely to the numerous activities of his company, the Fondation Jean-Pierre Perreault, which he established in 1984. His work is characterized by an interdisciplinary approach to creation, visually and structurally imposing sets, and the investigation of the relationship between sound and the body, interpreted by dancers of great artistic maturity. In works ranging from conventional dance performances to choreographic installations, Mr. Perreault explored a wide range of forms of expression.

Acclaimed at prestigious international dance festivals around the world, the Fondation Jean-Pierre Perreault is also familiar to thousands of television viewers thanks to the screen adaptation of JOE, which remains a veritable cult classic of the contemporary dance repertoire and one of the most widely performed of the 50-odd works Mr. Perreault created.

Born in Montreal on February 16, 1947, Jean-Pierre Perreault began his career as a dancer with Le Groupe de la Place Royale, where he made his choreographic debut in 1971; that same year he was appointed Co–Artistic Director (with Peter Boneham). During this period he choreographed over 20 works for the company, several of which toured across Canada and in the United States, Mexico and Europe.

In 1981 he left Le Groupe to pursue a freelance career as a choreographer and guest teacher in Canada and Europe. He returned to Montreal in 1984 and joined the faculty of the Dance Department of the Université du Québec à Montréal, where he taught until 1991.

Over the next few years, while continuing to create new works for his own company and for Sweden's Cullberg Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada, Mr. Perreault dedicated himself to the fulfilment of a long-held dream, which became reality in March 2001 with the inauguration of the Fondation Jean-Pierre Perreault's Espace chorégraphique. With the opening of this centre for creation and production, the Fondation became the first dance company in Quebec to have its own dedicated workspace.

An accomplished artist and designer, Mr. Perreault visualized and designed the sets, costumes and lighting (and occasionally composed the music) for his works before adding the human/choreographic element. His drawings have been shown in solo exhibitions in Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, New York, Antwerp (Belgium), Glasgow, Edinburgh and Stockholm.

Two books have been written about Mr. Perreault and his work: Jean-Pierre Perreault, Chorégraphe/Choreographer, published in French and English (Montreal: Les Herbes Rouges, 1991); and Jean-Pierre Perreault: Regard pluriel (Montreal: Les heures bleues, 2001).

Awards and honours include the Montreal Urban Community Arts Council's Grand Prize for Artistic Excellence (1999, for L'Exil-L'Oubli) and Grand Acknowledgment Prize in Dance (1991 and 1993); the Jean A. Chalmers Award for Lifetime Achievement in Choreography (1996); and the Jean A. Chalmers Award for Choreography (1990).

Jean-Pierre Perrault died in Montreal in December 2002.