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LINDA STEARNS - BIOGRAPHY

Linda Stearns began her ballet studies with Bettina Byers, the first official organizer for the Royal Academy of Dancing in Canada. Along with her sister Nora, the two Stearns girls participated in many of Byers's recitals during childhood. Their interest in dance was no doubt encouraged by their mother, Helen (Richardson) Stearns, who was a friend of Byers and was a fellow student in classes taught by Alison Sutcliffe. Linda Stearns furthered her training in London, England, with a roster of teachers that included Phyllis Bedells (who had also worked with Sutcliffe and Byers), and then in New York at the School of American Ballet and in private classes with former Ballets Russes dancer Alexandra Danilova.

One of Stearns's journals indicates an interest in working with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, but it was Les Grands that took Stearns into its company in 1961. Here, Stearns's dedication to the art form came to full fruition as a performer, ballet mistress and artistic director. Within three years of her joining Les Grands, Stearns became a soloist performing lead roles in works by Fernand Nault, Anton Dolin, Eric Hyrst and Brydon Paige. She took on the job of ballet mistress in 1966 and gradually phased out her performing career over the next three years. Mentored by Nault, she continued as ballet mistress until 1984. Between 1978 and 1984, she was also a co-artistic director of the company with Daniel Jackson and Colin McIntyre. In 1985, Stearns became co-artistic director of Les Grands with Jeanne Renaud, a Montreal modern dance choreographer and the founder of Le Groupe de la Place Royale. Renaud sought to bring more contemporary dance into the company's repertoire, which was met with disapproval by audiences and Renaud left in 1987. Stearns was sole artistic director until 1989 when she announced her retirement.

Stearns continued to work as a rehearsal director for several companies including the Alberta Ballet and the Southern Ballet in Florida; she was a répétitrice for works by choreographer John Butler following his death. She coached skaters in various Ontario towns and worked with the renowned British skating duo of Christopher Dean and Jayne Torvill. She also kept busy providing assessments of their clients to the Ontario Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, and Canadian Heritage's National Arts Training Program. Linda Stearns died of cancer in 2003.

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CONTENTS

  • Photographs, newspaper clippings, house programs concerning Bettina Byers
  • Correspondence between Bettina Byers and Irina Baronova (1937-1952)
  • Correspondence between Helen Stearns and Adeline Genée (1950s)
  • Class notes and journals made by Linda Stearns during her training; RAD syllabi (late 1950s)
  • Correspondence to Linda Stearns
  • Newspaper clippings (miscellaneous dance articles, National Ballet of Canada articles)
  • Obituaries (for Linda Stearns and other dancers)
  • Newspaper clippings and/or correspondence regarding John Butler, James Kudelka, Kimberly Glasco, Ballet Jörgen, Maxine Glorsky, Christopher Dean and Jayne Torvill
  • Notes and correspondence regarding International Encyclopedia of Dance, Not Just Any Body Conference (1999), Senior Dancers/Artists Project
  • All concerning Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and Linda Stearns's relationship to the company from 1961-1989: photographs, newspaper clippings, business records, marketing records, artistic director's reports, contracts, correspondence, artistic committee minutes, speeches, press releases, tour schedules, rehearsal schedules, casting notes, teaching notes, correspondence with guest teachers, notes on ballets, correspondence regarding Linda Stearns's retirement
  • Linda Stearns's assessments for the Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, National Arts Training Program
  • Jury notes for creation/production grants
  • Recommendation letters
  • Rehearsal directing notes for Alberta Ballet, Southern Ballet (Orlando, Florida)
  • Souvenir programs: Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, National Ballet of Canada, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Sadler's Wells/Royal Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, Massine's Ballet Russe Highlights, Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, Danish Ballet, Leningrad-Kirov Ballet, Stratford Festival
  • House programs: Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, National Ballet of Canada, Sadler's Wells/Royal Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, Leningrad-Kirov Ballet, Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, New York City Ballet, Festival of Ballet (London, England, includes Celia Franca), Peggy Baker, Montréal Danse, Banff Festival, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Ballet British Columbia, Stratford Festival, music, theatre, opera
  • Dancing Times (1958-1964), Dance Magazine (1963), Dance and Dancers, Performing Arts in Canada, Ballet News, books (see DCD's library list)
  • Pointe shoes (one pair belonged to Beryl Grey), castanets

 

Photos: Top Left - Linda Stearns, 1985 / Photo: Michael Slobodian
Below Top Left - Linda Stearns in Valse Triste
Left/Above CW - Fernand Nault, Roger Rochon, Brydon Paige, Ludmilla Chiriaeff, Linda Stearns of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens
Linda Stearns; Photo courtesy of Nora Stearns
Linda Stearns in Ludmilla Chiriaeff’s Jeux d’Arlequins

CROSS REFERENCES

Portfolios:
  • Bettina Byers Portfolio, Alison Sutcliffe Portfolio
Books:

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