Jean-Pierre Perreault was a dancer, choreographer, artistic director, teacher and designer whose legacy boasts a large body of choreography and a career of international distinction. Although Perreault initially intended to pursue the visual arts, he began training in dance with Jeanne Renaud and Peter Boneham at the age of nineteen when Boneham noticed him in a nightclub, observing his natural affinity for movement. When Renaud formed Le Groupe de la Place Royale in 1966, both Boneham and Perreault were founding members. Perreault studied classical and modern dance, and by 1968 he was teaching at Le Groupe's school. He and Boneham became co-directors of the company when Renaud left in 1971, and the 1970s were a time of great choreographic development for Perreault. By the time he left Le Groupe in 1981, he had produced over twenty works for the company. After leaving, he worked as an independent choreographer and teacher in Canada and Europe, including Simon Fraser University, the Laban Centre and the Cullberg Ballet. He returned to Montreal in 1984 creating his own company, La Fondation Jean-Pierre Perreault, and teaching at the Université du Québec à Montréal until 1991. It was here that he mounted his signature piece Joe, a ninety-minute work for twenty-four students that has since been remounted several times and celebrated worldwide. The 1980s and 1990s saw the creation of many of Perreault's other renowned works such as Stella (1985), Nuit (1986), Les Lieux-dits (1988), Îles (1991) and Les Années de Pèlerinage (1996). Like Joe, many of Perreault's works are large-scale, visually and spatially oriented, and charged with deep echoings of humanism. They often began as drawings and paintings and, accordingly, Perreault is also well known for his designs, which have been given solo exhibitions all over the world. In addition to choreographing for his own company, Perreault created works on other artists, including Eva Naissance (1987) for Paul-André Fortier, Flykt (1991) for Cullberg Ballet, Eironos (1996) for Chrissie Parrot Dance Company, and other works for independent artists such as Marc Boivin, Lucie Boissinot and Daniel Soulières. In total, Perreault produced over forty-eight choreographic works in his lifetime. In 1990 he won the Jean A. Chalmers Award for Choreography and in 1996 the Jean A. Chalmers Award for Distinction in Choreography, an award that recognizes his entire body of work. Jean-Pierre Perreault died of cancer in 2002.
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