Eddy Toussaint Biography

Edouard (Eddy) Toussaint was a dancer, teacher, choreographer, and artistic director. Edouard (Eddy) Toussaint (b at Port-au-Prince, Haiti 27 Dec 1945). From the middle of the 1970s until the middle of the 1980s, Eddy Toussaint was the leader of a dance troupe based in Montréal that was known for its approachability as well as the audacity of Toussaint’s choreography. Before relocating to Montréal in 1957 with his family, Toussaint trained in ballet in Haiti under the instruction of Lavinia Williams. In addition to earning two bachelor’s degrees – one in teaching from the Université de Montréal in 1973 and another in physical education with a dance major from the Université de Québec à Montréal in 1975 – he studied classical and jazz dance in Montréal with Eva von Genscy and Zeda Zare, in New York with Matt Mattox and Luigi, and in Paris with Janine Charrat, Yvette Chauviré, Roland Petit, and Rosella Hightower. All of these instructors

Eddy Career

The early jazz work that Eddy Toussaint did with the dancer Eva VON GENCSY led to an engagement for him in 1973 at the Banff School of Fine Arts, where he was both a dancer and a teacher. After co-founding LES BALLETS JAZZ DE MONTRÉAL in 1972 with von Gencsy and Geneviève SALBAING, he parted ways with the group the following year. In 1974, he established la Compagnie de danse Eddy Toussaint, a dance company that drew inspiration from a variety of dance styles in order to advance its focus on popular culture. The company had its own school, and it had a total of seven hundred students enrolled. Up until 1978, he continued to pursue his own career as a dancer, appearing in a number of different television shows. During the same time period, he was also a board member of the Québec branch of the Féderation des Loisirs de dance, which is an organization that regulates recreational dance.

In the 1970s, Eddy Toussaint created choreography that was acrobatic, sensual, and purposefully anti-intellectual. This was in accordance with his frequently voiced belief that stage dance should both entertain and stimulate its audience. In the late 1970s, he surprised his audience by adopting a more balletic style, influenced partly by 5 years of intense schooling by ballet mistress Camila Malashenko and partly by CANADA COUNCIL funding policies that favored ballet and experimental dance. Toussaint fashioned his new image largely around the popular dancing couple of Louis ROBITAILLE and Anik BISSONNETTE, who achieved a cult following in Québec and who had been nurtured by his school and company.

Company Achievements

The Haitian government extended an invitation to the company in 1975, requesting that they put on a series of performances at the Théatre Triomphe in Port-au-Prince. The Théatre du Nouveau-Monde in Montreal played host to the city’s very first official performance.

Damballah, a piece that Toussaint had choreographed, was one of the pieces that the company performed at the Olympic Games in 1976. This year, the company was also featured on multiple television series…not to mention also having their first series of performances at Place-Des-Arts that were completely sold out.

In 1978, the company went on tour and visited 21 cities across Quebec in addition to touring for two months in South America and the Antilles. This was a banner year for the company, as it was televised by Radio-Canada for both Toussaint’s Rhythm et Pas and the Module 2027.

The company also received collaborations from Mr. Arnold Spohr, who is the artistic director of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and Michal Denard during that year (principal dancer with the Paris Opera Ballet).

The company had previously performed at Place-Des-Arts in 1979 two of Toussaint’s most famous ballets: Alexis Le Trotteur (which had been choreographed the year before), and Rose Latulipe, which were both based on the folklore of Quebec. This is the first year that the organization has participated in the Quebec City Summer Festival as well as the Complex LG2 of Baie-James.

In 1980, the company continued to tour internationally, visiting Haiti, Martinique, and Mexico in addition to other locations in Canada (Quebec, Ontario, and the Maritimes) (inaugurating the International Arts Festival in San Luis de Potosi). Even the company’s two biggest stars, Louis Robitaille and Jean-Marc Lebeau, were asked to take part in the production of Stravinsky’s “Firebird,” which went on to win numerous prestigious awards, including an Emmy Award.

In 1981, the company continued its tour across Canada and Haiti, and it also made a stop in Guadalupe for the first time. The Ballet Eddy Toussaint, however, made history by becoming the first dance company to ever perform inside the White House in Washington, District of Columbia. In addition, company dancers were invited to perform principal roles for the Ballet d’Avignon. The fact that the company would be performing for the Prime Minister of Quebec, René Lévesque, at a gala held in the St. Denis Theatre made Toussaint extremely happy.

In 1982, the band is going on more tours and performing more shows than ever before. In addition to their never-ending tour schedule in Canada, they travel to France and Belgium for a total of two months. Additionally, the government of Colombia has extended an invitation to the company to participate in the inauguration of the brand new Teatro Municipal Amira de la Rosa in Colombia.

After that, the company went on a lengthy tour through Alberta in 1983. The same year that Mr. Toussaint was honored with the title of Great Montrealer, he passed away. In addition to this, the company performed a total of fifty times at the Théâtre des iles de Montréal.

During their tour in 1984, the company visited the states of Texas and Louisiana in the United States. This year, Toussaint created the piece titled “Les Valses,” which was featured on Radio-“Les Canada’s Beaux Dimanches.” Toussaint sent his dancers to the International Ballet Competition in Helsinki, Finland in 1984, which resulted in him winning the gold medal for Best Choreography with his piece Un Simple Moment, competing against other renowned choreographers such as Roland Petit, Maurice Béjart, Norbert Vesak, and Jiri Kylian. This made 1984 an iconic year for the company. Dancers such as Bissonnette and Robitaille were invited to take part in a film called “Night Magic,” which was created by Lewis Furey and Leonard Cohen. The film featured choreography that was choreographed by Toussaint and staged by Carole Laure. This helped bring more fame and prestige to the name of Toussaint.

1985 was a banner year for the company’s touring engagements, which continued their upward trend. They went on tour to twenty different cities across the United States, as well as two provinces in Canada (Quebec and Alberta), as well as London, Brussels, and Paris. This year, Toussaint created one of his masterpieces called “Requiem,” and it had its world premiere at the Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto. Additionally, during that same year, the company was involved in the Spoleto Festival held in Charleston, South Carolina.

In 1986, the Toulouse Opera Ballet extended an invitation to the company to perform Hommage à Eddy Toussaint, which was a two-week season comprised entirely of choreography created by Toussaint. In addition, that year, Bissonnette and Robitaille were asked to perform “Un Simple Moment” once more at the 75th anniversary of the Spoleto Festival, which took place in its namesake city of Spoleto, Italy. In addition, Toussaint’s Requiem was performed for the very first time in Montreal at the Place des Arts de Montréal.

Company Relocates to Florida

In 1987, the state of Florida invited the company to make its permanent winter headquarters there; this was made possible by the state’s government. This year saw the creation of not only Toussaint’s very own futuristic Nutcracker, but also New World Symphony, which added yet another masterpiece to Toussaint’s catalog of work. The company dancers Bissonnette and Robitaille were invited abroad once more, but this time it was to perform alongside Mikhail Baryshnikov in the Gala of Stars. This was a landmark year for the École de Danse Eddy Toussaint, as well as the collaboration with M. Origène Voisine to open the Option Danse program with the Collège Jean-Eudes, which introduced company dancer and assistant director Jean-Marc Lebeau to launch the courses of this program for the youth. Additionally, this year marked the opening of the Option Danse program with the Collège Jean-Eudes.

An elegant banquet was held by the company in 1988 to commemorate the occasion of its 15th anniversary. Toussaint and his company had recently achieved recognition on a global scale, and as a result, Toussaint was in a position to negotiate an exchange of his dancers to perform with the Odessa Ballet in Ukraine. In addition, if Mr. Toussaint gave his approval, Rudolf Nureyev would join his company in performing at the Festival International de Lanaudière this year. The company maintained its location in the state of Florida.

The Ballet Eddy Toussaint changed its name to the Sarasota Ballet of Florida in the year 1990. Mr. Toussaint relocated his dance company to Florida, bringing with him his employees, costumes, and sets, as well as his years of industry experience. There, he developed the unique program known as Dance…Next Generation for children who did not have as many opportunities as other children. Children are able to continue their academic studies while receiving training in classical dance through this program that spans an instructional period of eight years, from elementary school to university level. The program is made possible through agreements with the University of South Florida. This school teaches ballet using the Vaganova method, which originated in Russia. It is known for producing dancers of a high caliber who have gone on to work for prestigious dance companies such as the National Ballet of Canada, the English National Ballet, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, and a great number of other dance companies all over the world.

Return To Canada

After having worked in Russia, the Czech Republic, and the United States, Mr. Toussaint has resumed his position within the artistic community in Canada. This comes after he had previously lived in Montreal. Places des Arts, the city of Montreal’s most important cultural hub, played host to the inauguration of the fresh new company in September of 2011.

Following his return to Quebec, the company has been on tour both within the United States and internationally, traveling through Mexico and the United States.

In 2013, the École de Danse Eddy Toussaint reopened its doors and resumed its mission of teaching the art of classical dance to all members of the population, with a particular emphasis on the younger generations. One of the most important goals of the school is to educate its students to a level that is comparable to that of a professional, with the end goal of preparing those students to dance professionally for the Ballet Eddy Toussaint.

The Ballet Eddy Toussaint and its school moved to Laval, Quebec in 2016 in order to access new segments of the market that had not previously been served.

Controversy

Laval police made the announcement on Friday that renowned choreographer Eddy Toussaint, who is also the director of a dance school in Laval that bears his name and was one of the co-founders of Ballets Jazz Montréal, is facing a charge of sexual assault in connection with offenses that allegedly occurred between the years 2015 and 2017.