(Chapter commissioned by Allana Lindgren and Kaija Pepper, editors, for Renegade Bodies: Canadian Dance in the 1970s, an anthology published by Dance Collection Danse Press/es in 2012)

by Dena Davida and Catherine Lavoie-Marcus

By the 1970s the island of Montréal counted four universities.  There was an old-and-reputable one and another newly established and less traditional one for each of its two predominant linguistic groups. All of them – the universities of McGill and Concordia on the English Canadian side, Université de Montréal (UdeM) and Université de Québec à Montréal (UQAM) for the Francophones – already housed dance activities. These activities took diverse forms, from adjunct courses for physical education majors at the UdeM to student dance clubs like the one founded by Thelma Wagner at McGill University.[i] And because of the particular socio-historical situation of Québécois society, dance programmes appeared later among Francophones (in the 1960s) than within the Anglophone and allophone communities (in the 1930s)[ii]. But the notion of dance as an academic field of study in its own right, “modern educational dance” as Laban[iii] called it, is quite a recent phenomenon in Montréal.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that four determined women with divergent pedagogical strategies, alongside the men who spearheaded the necessary administrative initiatives, put afoot Québec’s first undergraduate dance degree programmes. While possessing meagre resources, “like a cactus in the desert” as the co-founder of the UdeM dance certificate Rose-Marie Lèbe mused,[iv] they managed to forge their programmes and did so intuitively yet systematically. Despite economic limitations, these women were empowered with great freedom of thought and action as they conceived their first university-level courses of study for dance professionals. Lèbe exclaimed, “At that moment, [we felt that] everything was possible!”[v]

The drive to implant dance programmes in universities in this era resulted in a quadruple birth within a single decade: a dance minor at UQAM within the Département de kinanthropologie was the initiative of Danielle de Bellefeuille, accompanied by Michèle Febvre (1971); a dance certificate at UdeM in the Département d’éducation physique was created by Rose-Marie Lèbe and Diane Carrière (1978)[vi]; a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in dance at UQAM within the Regroupement Théâtre et Danse was planned and inaugurated by Françoise Riopelle (1979); and Concordia University set up a Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) in dance within the Faculty of Fine Arts and headed by Elizabeth Langley (1979).[vii]

These programmes were inscribed within larger social movements that aimed at democratizing access to higher education and to the fine arts for the population-at-large. Although the nature of a comprehensive dance syllabus was disputed among the designated decision-makers of the Québec dance milieu (as we will elaborate below), at least one unanimous intention was articulated throughout several symposia and committee reports on the future of dance in education:  the urgent necessity to assure the quality of dance teaching throughout the province and within all public and private institutions at every level from kindergarten to university.  And all present at those meetings agreed on the principles of universal access, to be achieved by government funding for qualifying dance students.

New institutions, new paradigms

The confluence of these initiatives in university dance teaching was most certainly the outcome of the widespread emancipation burgeoning in Québécois society. As Carrière mused, “I think this fervor for dance had something to do with the waves of liberation in this period.  Liberation from taboos about the body coming from religion, women’s liberation and sexual liberation. The younger generation needed to move […] and their infatuation with ballet-jazz was one of the means to canalize this youthful vitality”.[viii] Two noteworthy paradigms emerged from this social movement:  the structuring of institutional support for professional dance and the imperative to modernize choreographic creation.

It is not surprising that Québécois Modern Dance arose out of the momentum created by the Révolution tranquille, whose many breakthroughs nurtured the flourishing of a québécois culture that embraced the expansion of liberalism and secularization.[ix] As sociologist Gérard Bouchard proposed, the unprecedented cultural effervescence that arises during these surging movements is characterized by a “return to popular culture and to folklore; a quest for authenticity, for one’s roots.”[x] This social and cultural revolution was accompanied by institutional renewal. In 1961, the Ministère des Affaires culturelles du Québec (MAC) was created to fund artistic creation. The year1963 marked the inauguration of Montréal’s key performing arts venue, the Place des Arts, and in 1966 ground was broken for the Grand Théâtre de Québec in Québec City, which finally opened its doors in 1971.

Modernist dance in the Québecois community appeared decades later than in the anglophone side of the city. As late dance historian Iro Tembeck pointed out, the contrast is striking: just as Modern Dance was becoming established among francophones in the 1960s, its golden age at McGill University was coming to an end.[xi] Dance classes were offered there as early as 1929, at the same moment as the earliest efforts to found dance programmes in the United States.[xii] It wasn’t until thirty years later that the first dance courses appeared in francophone universities. “The contribution made by English Quebeckers to dance history seems to have been rendered unofficially invisible,” Tembeck wrote in 1990, because as she explained, it had been eclipsed by the predominant story of an emerging Québécois identity, giving credence to the presence of  “two solitudes” between whom a tradition of non-communication had developed.[xiii]

But for Tembeck’s seminal history book[xiv] and two of her essays[xv], we still know relatively little about the work of those dance pioneers who, coming mainly from Europe during the 1940s and 1950s, paved the way for Modern Dance in Montréal. Among them were the German Elizabeth Leese and Lithuanian Birouté Nagys, who brought European expressionism to Québec and whose students included:  Françoise Riopelle for the former, Françoise Graham and Linda Rabin[xvi] for the later. In the 1950s, despite the vigorous presence of Modern Dance, it was classical ballet that became a predominant point of reference for Québécois largely due to the frequent television appearances with Radio-Canada of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens.

It wouldn’t be until the 1960s that the sexual revolution and other counter-culture movements would draw the public’s attention towards a more modernist and democratized kind of dance movement.  During these years, it was three dance “muses” — Françoise Riopelle, Françoise Sullivan and Jeanne Renaud[xvii] (the first two having signed the renowned manifesto of the Refus Global in 1948[xviii]) — who would become the icons for this excursion into modernity in the Québécois dance world.  Their work instigated the development of a first indigenous Modern Dance company Le Groupe de la Place Royale, founded by Jeanne Renaud herself along with Peter Boneham (1966), and who were later joined by Jean-Pierre Perreault.  Soon after, Groupe Nouvelle Aire was inaugurated by cofounder-directors Martine Époque and Rose-Marie Lèbe (1968), composed of students and professors from the Option danse at the UdeM. The burgeoning of creativity was in full force.[xix]

Moving towards consensus

In the momentum gained from the social upheavals of the previous decade, the 1970s marked a seminal period for passionate public debate on the question of the place of dance in educational institutions and of art in society. The emphatic voices of artists and academics became a matter of public record as they penned their reports and published the proceedings of officially sanctioned commissions and committees. The actors in this social drama were leading Québécois choreographers, artistic directors, dance educators and recreation centre animateurs, sociologists and social historians. Conspicuous by their absence were members of Québec’s anglophone and allophone communities.

Two substantial reports lent necessary gravitas to the meetings, the first one published ten years earlier at the close of the 1960s, the period of the 1968 student uprisings. The three volumes of La société, la culture et l’éducation. Rapport Rioux were the outcome of the 1966 Commission d’enquête sur l’enseignement des arts au Québec, a joint venture of the ministries of both education and culture.[xx] The author was Marcel Rioux, a contentious sociology professor at the UdeM. In the words of fellow sociologist Marcel Fournier, the report was a socio-anthropological manifesto that called for a renewal of society through art.[xxi] Another report of crucial importance, commissioned by UQAM in 1973 and which still languishes in their archives, was the critical analysis by social historian Noël Vallerand of the internal conflicts among teachers of the arts in higher education.[xxii] His recommendations were forceful and pointed, as this excerpt vividly demonstrates: “We are in conflicting situations. More precisely that which opposes ‘educators’ and ‘artists’. My God! What an anguished squabble! Is it possible to make art and simultaneously teach how to teach it, and vice-versa? That is the question.” [xxiii] These two reports set the terms of the debates that followed, provided theoretical and political grounds and proposed structure for future arts programmes.

In the political realm, by the mid-1970s the Ministère des Affaires culturelles (MAC) Guy Thivierge had announced his personal interest in seeking new funding to support the surge of dance companies and schools (80% of his modest $500,000 budget was already allotted to the Grands Ballets Canadiens). But to do so, he requested that the professional dance community make a rational analysis of its predicament, with clearer definitions of the line between professional and recreational dance practices (“socio-cultural” dance being the responsibility of the Haut Commisariat à la jeunesse, aux loisirs et aux sports) and seek agreement on their priorities. For this purpose, between 1976 and 1977 Thivierge funded and organized the Colloques Québec-Danse, a series of symposia to which he invited representatives from all sectors of professional and recreational dance with the mandate to determine “the conditions necessary for the professional training of dancers and of professional dance in general.” Sites of consensus among delegates revealed a universalistic ethos: that each potential teacher should follow a uniform curriculum that would give them the capacity to teach the three major dance forms (ballet, Modern and jazz).[xxiv] Other key resolutions were consolidated within a committee report, and included the imperative of democratization, universal access and the creation of an accreditation system to assure quality teaching. This also marked an important shift in which the professionalisation of dance, as mentioned earlier, would be recognized by the public education system and so students could receive scholarships.[xxv]

In this period of intense debates on dance in education, and in the light of the 1977 publication of the policy paper “Pour l’évolution de la politique culturelle du Québec” by the MAC, another sectorial committee went to work on some of the fundamental questions for dance educators. This assertive group, the Comité d’étude sur la danse et l’éducation, put forward 17 pages of resolutions among which were the necessity to establish graduate and undergraduate university programmes hosted by faculties of fine arts, in the fields of creation, history, ethnology, criticism, education, animation, therapy, etc. All did not share their points of view, as some certain larger dance companies were calling for an alternative solution: the creation of a state dance conservatory.

And so in this period of discussions and policy recommendations with its flurry of commissions and committees, consensus may indeed have been reached on the larger principles, but not on the means to achieve their realization. Everyone wanted professional dance to move from the margins to the mainstream of society and to insure the quality of the recreational dance teaching that was proliferating throughout the province. But the protagonists invested in these debates couldn’t agree on how to take the leap.

Three distinct programmes

Already during the early and mid 1970s, as previously noted, various university departments played host to dance classes of many kinds. Reflecting the predominant humanist philosophy of that era, as Carrière wrote,[xxvi] learning about dance was perceived as complementary to a student’s main programme of study, providing them with a means of self-expression and sense of well-being. These classes were incorporated into the curriculum of diplomas in other fields of study and in the offerings of continuing education and recreational activities. Dance classes were offered by departments as varied as Physical Education (UdeM, McGill), Visual Arts (Concordia), and Theatre and Kinanthropologie (UQAM). And so it seems that the place reserved for the study of dance at university was not a point of agreement.  Should university dance be considered above all as a physical discipline, a performance art, a full-fledged creative art, or a theoretical field of knowledge in its own right?

There was at least one critical accord reached during those late-1970s meetings: that university degree programmes should not be mandated to train professional dancers, a task better relegated to the professional dance schools and companies.[xxvii] In fact, two of the three new university dance programmes in the late 1970s were dedicated, if only in part, to filling the documented need for dance teachers. This objective was shared by both the UdeM and UQAM, but set aside by Concordia.  Each one carried it out with a unique set of perspectives and aimed at a particular student demographic.

With its compact structure (30 credits) and short duration, the UdeM’s Certificat en danse et mouvement expressif was oriented towards dancers, choreographers and teachers seeking sanction for their teaching competency, and was also created in response to new demands by the ministries both of sports and recreation, and of education.[xxviii] The four axes of their UdeM certificate were history, biophysiology, pedagogy[xxix] and creation (the latter included various dance techniques, improvisation, theatre production and mouvement expressif).[xxx] Lèbe recalled that there were 20-25 students in the first class in 1978, showing that the demand was strong.  She concluded that “people had been waiting for the opportunity.”[xxxi] Dedicated to students seeking a full degree programme,[xxxii] the three-year Bachelor of Arts in dance at UQAM offered two concentrations: education/animation (the latter referring to teaching dance as a recreational activity) and creation/theoretical studies.[xxxiii] To formulate the pedagogical axis, Riopelle sought out Laban-trained Monik Bruneau from the Université Laval.[xxxiv] This programme was also distinguished by a linguistic mandate: “[it] will finally permit francophones from Québec and eventually other countries to undertake graduate studies in dance in their mother tongue.” [xxxv] However, it was the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia University that broke with the paradigm of pedagogy by orienting its programme towards “educating dancers so that they would strengthen the Canadian contemporary dance milieu with original works.”[xxxvi] As with UQAM, the first student cohort came from many levels of training and experience in dance, and Silvy Panet-Raymond – who later became the director and who worked closely beside Langley since being hired by her in 1980 — recalled that the 20 who were registered in the initial courses reflected the international diaspora, Québécois, the wider Canadian community and anglophone Montrealers — a linguistic and cultural mix.[xxxvii]

At the same time as they worked on building their curricula, the founders intuitively positioned their programmes in relation to each other. Riopelle held discussions with Carrière and Lèbe, but there didn’t seem to be agreement on teaching philosophies. In her words, “I found that they were beginning with the idea of gymnastique, and I didn’t agree with that. I’m a dreamer.”[xxxviii] Langley had been touch with Carrière and Lèbe, who remembered having thought of the Concordia programme as complementary to theirs.[xxxix] But in contrast to the others, Langley put forward a vastly divergent mission statement. Panet-Raymond spoke of she and Langley as having “different political agendas” than their counterparts. They were creating a programme in which teachers were expected to focus on supporting each student to develop their particular artistic vision and so were expected not to teach their own method or repertoire, nor to choreograph on the students. Panet-Raymond also interjected that “if you start training teachers, you stop teaching choreographers,” explaining that the objectives and means are very different.[xl] As for Langley, she was brought into Montréal in 1979 to design the dance programme. As a newcomer in the city and a unilingual anglophone, she worked in relative isolation from the others, never to this day having met Riopelle.

Competing or complementary philosophies?

These founding mothers honed their pedagogical philosophies, as might be expected, from current-day debates on dance education, the models proposed by other university dance programmes and the teachings of their mentors. They also shaped their curricular models out of the writings of theoreticians, the dictates of administrative policy-makers[xli], understandings gleaned from their own academic research and artistic projects, and through dialogue with like-minded colleagues with whom they worked closely in the early years.

The heated disputes of the 1960s and 1970s had pitched “educators” against “artists” in the Québec arts milieu, as Vallerand so vividly portrayed it. And the larger international story of dance in academia has also been one of this oppositional model in which process and technique, practitioners and theoreticians, aesthetic experience and art form, have been seen as irreconcilable.  In these dichotomies, dance education serves either to realize the full potential of the moving/feeling human being, or “to produce highly skilled dancers and theatrically defined dance products for presentation to audiences.”[xlii]

The lineage of the first model that espouses dance as a form of human development can be traced in the literature from John Dewey’s Art as Experience[xliii] and Laban’s Modern Educational Dance[xliv], directly to Margaret H’Doubler’s Dance: A Creative Art Experience.  In her introduction, H’Doubler claimed no less than “The future of dance as a democratic art activity rests with our educational system.”[xlv] It was physical educator H’Doubler who founded the first American dance degree programme in 1926 at the University of Wisconsin and whose graduates spread her ideology as they became department heads in most U.S. dance programmes by the 1940s.[xlvi] The second model, carrying the aim of high-level training for the concert stage, gained ground a decade later in many universities, as professional concert dancers and choreographers were hired and the pressure mounted to adopt a vocational orientation and better prepare students for the “dance marketplace.” The teaching in those departments was based on the conservatory design, as teachers arrived with their devotion to one (or more) of the existing idiosyncratic schools of dance, each complete with its own pedagogical system, movement style, philosophy and belief system: Graham, Cunningham, Limon, Simonson jazz, Cecchetti style ballet, and so on.  Several of these dance techniques were usually present in a single department.

A close examination of the first curricula of the three Montréal dance programmes revealed an affinity for one or the other of these two models, but in actuality each was positioned in a middle ground. Langley’s Concordia syllabus bears the marks of H’Doubler’s vision of personal development through creative exploration.  The central concept of creative process was explained by Panet-Raymond in these terms: “[it’s about the] teaching of one’s own language to dancers: naming, passing on, documenting it, transmission.”[xlvii] But the teaching of a dance technique class has always been part of the programme[xlviii] and students were encouraged to show their work publicly – just not too publicly, nor too soon.  And although Langley was deeply invested in the notion of creative process, it is interesting that her background was initially that of a concert dancer in her native Australia, training as well for five years at the New York Graham studios. On the other hand, the inaugural programme at UQAM, as Riopelle described it – with her personal interest in interdisciplinary arts practice and in “opening all the forms” — was also a means to foster creation and reflection about art-making, informed by her Automatist roots and taste for innovation.  But of course, as mentioned, she also included a dance pedagogy section as a nod to the job marketplace.[xlix] In Riopelle’s words, “I adored the students and wasn’t judgmental, and let them express themselves. There was a certain liberty.”[l] In the third case, the Certificat en danse et mouvement expressif at the UdeM took an even more mixed approach with these two models, with a large range of dance technique classes, subjects and the decisive integration of dance theory. Having finished her doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin, Carrière’s teaching and creative work, as well the certificate’s hallmark, were impregnated with H’Doubler’s philosophy.[li] And with new Ph.D.s in hand, Carrière and Lèbe continued their research and attended academic dance conferences, seeking to elucidate dance teaching with scientific-minded principles that they elaborated in conference papers with ideas such as, “A dance technique can be conceived of as a way of putting into evidence a certain body topography through a specific movement vocabulary.”[lii] It was at UdeM, from the onset, that dance theory was fully integrated into practice.


At the dawning of the 1980s it was still difficult to imagine that a professional dancer might be educated within the walls of a university.  The mandate of these institutions, as articulated in the Politique de la danse du MAC in 1984, was to offer courses that “had as their objective the education of master teachers for educational establishments that were regulated by the Ministère d’éducation and, in certain cases, the teaching of research and creation.”[liii] But the lack of a high level of technique among contemporary dancers was persistent, and the policy paper also announced that “[a]t this time, the École supérieure de danse is the only establishment that the province can count on to give complete and professional training that is open to all.”[liv] It wasn’t until 1985 that the Les ateliers de danse moderne de Montréal (LADMMI) opened its programme to prepare dancers for professional companies that this problem was gradually resolved.

The training of dancers has become common currency in the new millennium through the two bachelor degrees in Montréal that are now full-fledged dance departments, but that have remained distinct from one other.[lv] Creative process and its outcome, choreographic creation, is as always the province of the Concordia programme[lvi], while the UQAM syllabus became specialized in the three areas of choreography, interpretation and teaching. In addition, in 2000, three Diplômes d’études supérieures specialisées (DESS) programmes were initiated entailing a 30-credit course of study at the masters’ level, in the areas of dance, analysis of expressive movement and somatic education. But only the later one has remained open.  Moreover, UQAM developed a significant number of dance theory classes over time, a preoccupation since the inception of the department and one that had been pushed into the background in 1979 because of “the difficulty of articulating this concentration within a job market that is yet so little delineated.” [lvii] But the authors of this same UQAM programme prospectus, Françoise Riopelle and Ninon Gauthier, had also insisted that “The development of theoretical studies and dance criticism are essential to the renewal of dance.”[lviii] In 1993, the UQAM dance department inaugurated a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree, a testimonial to the vivacity and conceptual density of this art, and since 1997 it has also been possible to earn a Ph.D. in the field of dance within the interdepartmental Programme d’études et pratiques des arts.

Just as the UQAM and Concordia dance programmes took root, those at the other two universities were declining. In the case of McGill, Tembeck evokes as determining factors the retirement of Thelma Wagner in 1967, the move to a suburban campus and the orientation towards creative dance in education.[lix] As for UdeM, Lèbe remembers that the motive was primarily budget cuts to her department and the low status of dance as an academic field at a time of UdeM’s ambition to become a stronghold for research.[lx]

However, to explain this stagnation in the UdeM programme it is also necessary to evoke the paradigm shift in this particular institution and others, in which the sciences were coming into favour to the detriment of the arts. Yet at the same time, there was a general movement to relocate dance courses from physical education departments to the benefit of arts departments. In essence, by 1979 there were indications that dance couldn’t forever remain cloistered in a situation which primarily embraced its utility as a physical discipline and means of self-expression. Dagenais expressed this preoccupation with a crucial question, “Who will teach dance history, dance notation, […] artistic criticism, lighting and costuming, choreography, dance therapy, ethnomusicology, the treatment of injuries, stage design, music for dance, [dance] folklore, kinesiology, dance theory, […] the psychology of motor skills, “rhythmics”, movement expressivity, etc., if not the university?”[lxi]  Indeed, dance needed to be embraced as a full-fledged academic field.

Our study reveals that despite the efforts at collective consensus building that came to a head in the late 1970s, resulting in agreements about some of the dance community’s basic needs, no concerted plan of action was adopted among the founders of the university dance programmes. Dagenais despaired in 1979, “How far have we come with the question of dance in Québec universities? Almost nowhere after seven years and many first drafts of diverse projects […].”[lxii] Nevertheless, the founders forged on in relative isolation, conceiving their first dance syllabi within the localized context of their university’s mandates and out of the substance of their personal visions for dance in education. And so, individual initiatives carried considerable weight in the outcome.  In this regard, other circumstances come to mind such as the independence of the employers in choosing professors, and the deliberate or accidental avoidances between certain members of the dance community. All of these factors contain a private dimension whose meaning can only be understood by summoning up biographical elements.

As we piece together this narrative, we find our task as social historians to be that of excavating the many layers of sedimented phenomena. Indeed, the evolution of dance teaching in Québec is indebted to the convergence of events at both at a macro level – the Quiet Revolution, the sexual revolution, the democratization of education – and a micro level – symposiums, commissions, reports, private discussions. Yet another and more subtle part of the story is buried inside personal initiatives, agendas and strategies that were not always consciously linked to the objective landmarks of Québec’s history. As we have seen, a community like this one that hadn’t yet developed a solid connective tissue often allowed its course to be determined by individual hopes and convictions.  In the end, it was at the juncture of these multiple layers that we begin to illuminate the import and shed light on the mystery inherent in those dance degree programmes that germinated in Montréal in the 1970s, like cactuses in the desert.

Acknowledgements:  The authors wish to thank the founders for their indispensable collaboration, outside reader Lys Stevens, and the support of archive technician Justine Boivin at the UQAM Archives and librarian Marie-Josée Lecours at the Bibliothèque de la danse.

[i] There were also children’s dance pedagogy classes for education students, teacher-led performance ensembles, continuing education and non-credit recreational classes at all universities through the physical education department, and movement training for actors within a theatre department.

[ii] The long and neglected history of dance at McGill University, beginning in 1929 with classes offered through the women’s programme in the Physical Education Department, was uncovered by historian Iro Tembeck in her publication “Early Modern Montreal: 1929-1970,” Dance Connection Magazine (February/March 1991): 26-33.

[iii] Rudolf Laban, Modern Educational Dance, (London: MacDonald & Evans Ltd., 1948). This groundbreaking book was not only influential within many early university dance programmes in the United States and England, but at least four Québécois university dance professors — Françoise Graham and Rose-Marie Lèbe (UdeM), Monik Bruneau (Laval, UdeM) and Jane Hodge (McGill) — developed an expertise in and taught Laban Movement Analysis at that time.  It was Bruneau who later conceived the official guides for the Ministère de l’éducation in teaching dance at the elementary school level, based largely on Laban’s teachings and the notion of creative dance. See for instance the Guide Pédagogique, Danse (Québec: Gouvernement du Québec, Ministère de l’éducation, 1983).

[iv] Rose-Marie Lèbe and Diane Carrière, interview by the authors, tape recording, October 25, 2010.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] The accumulation of three certificates was the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree.

[vii] During the interview with Lèbe, she mentioned precedents in the1960s within the Physical Education Department at the UdeM.  Among those who had already been teaching dance there was Françoise Graham who combined Laban’s concepts and Modern Dance as a mix of theory and practice (from 1963-1966).  And in 1967 an Option danse was opened with classes offered by Martine Époque in Dalcroze Eurthymics and Modern Dance, in creative and environmental dance by Diane Carrière, in Modern Dance by both Carrière and Lèbe, and Claire Marcil and Magdelaine Yerlès offered “gymnastique de base.” For a candid account of events in this period, see Martine Époque’s autobiographical Le Groupe Nouvelle aire en mémoires: 1968-1982 (Montréal, Canada: Presses de l’Université de Québec, 1999).

[viii] Diane Carrière, email to authors, October 26, 2010.

[ix] For a detailed portrait of events in the art world in that period, see the exhibition catalogue: Marie-Charlotte de Koninck and Pierry Landry, eds., Déclics art et société : Le Québec des années 1960 et 1970 (Montreal, Québec : Éditions Fides, 1999).

[x] Gérard Bouchard quoted in Jacques Lacoursière, Histoire du Québec populaire, 1960 à 1970, Tome 5 (Sillery, Québec, Canada: Édition Septentrion, 2008): 11. It is important to emphasize that this creative and vertiginous passion, present in all of the art forms during the 1970s, was allied to a publicly acknowledged sympathy for the fight for Québec’s independence, principally by the leftist faction.

[xi] Iro Tembeck, “Politics and Dance: A case study of the Maginot Line separating Anglophone and Francophone dance artists in Montreal,” Conference Papers, Volume II K-Z (5th Hong Kong International Dance Conference, July 15-28, 1990): 263; and Tembeck, 1991.

[xii] Richard Kraus and Sarah Chapman, History of the Dance in Art and Education (Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1969) and Janice Ross, Moving Lessons: Margaret H’Doubler and the Beginning of Dance in American Education (Madison, Wisconsin:  University of Wisconsin Press, 2000). These two references elaborate a similar subject, but from two different eras of dance scholarship.

[xiii] In this text Tembeck portrayed the “two solitudes” of the English and French sectors as divided by an imaginary Maginot Line in Montréal, which in reality was St-Lawrence Boulevard (also called The Main). See Tembeck, 1990.

[xiv] Iro Tembeck, Danser à Montréal (Montréal, Québec: Presses de l’Université du Québec à Montréal, 1991).

[xv] Tembeck, July 15-28,1990 and February/March 1991 (the journal and magazine articles).

[xvi]  In 1981, Linda Rabin along with Candace Loubert were the founders of Linda Rabin Danse Moderne, incorporated in 1984 as Les Ateliers de danse moderne de Montréal inc.

[xvii] It was primarily by way of its dance techniques that the German and American Modern Dance marked the dancing of these Québecoises: for instance, Françoise Riopelle had contact with the teachings of Mary Wigman and American Winifer Widener; Jeanne Renaud and Françoise Sullivan studied with various teachers in New York City in the 1940s.  But it was the aesthetic ethos arising from the Refus global that impacted their choreographic visions (see next footnote).

[xviii] The Refus Global was a political manifesto, written and signed in 1948 by a collective of 15 Montréal artists calling themselves Automatists, and whose contents spoke “for the artists and intelligentsia of the day [and] rejected the stranglehold on the Québec people then held by the Roman Catholic Church and Premier Maurice Duplessis.” (Quotation from an interview with Jeanne Renaud in Heather Hill, “Daring Refus global dance reborn,” The Gazette, April 4, 1988.)

[xix] By the end of the 1970s there were eight professional dance companies, almost all supported by grants from the MAC, and about four hundred dance schools throughout the province. See the Politique de la danse au Québec (Ministère des Affaires culturelles, 1984).

[xx] Marcel Rioux, prés., Rapport de la Commission royale d’enquête sur l’enseignement des arts dans la province de Québec (Québec, Éditeur officiel du Québec): 1968.

[xxi] Thierry Haroun, “42 ans plus tard – Le rapport Rioux suscite toujours le débat,” Le Devoir, Cahier special sur l’éducation (January 8, 2011).

[xxii] Guy Bellavance, “Institution artistique et système public au Québec, 1960-1980,” in Déclics, Art et Société: Le Québec des années 1960 et 1970, eds. De Koninck and Landry (Montréal, Québec: Éditions Fides): 235-239.

[xxiii] Noël Vallerand, Rapport sur le Secteur des Arts présenté à la Commission des Études de l’Université du Québec à Montréal par l’Observateur délégué (Montréal, Département d’histoire, November 1973): 155. (Unpublished report in the Archive Department of UQAM.)

[xxiv] The propositions in this paragraph were largely drawn from two articles in the French language daily newspaper Le Devoir, by dance reporter/critic Angèle Dagenais, who witnessed the symposia: (1) “Le MAC souhaite la tenue d’un second colloque:  Les danseurs devront se parler” (June 10, 1977) and (2) “Au Colloque Québec-Danse, Un premier dialogue qui rapproche les danseurs” (October 18, 1977).

[xxv] The five committee members commissioned to write this report were Gilles Morel (Grands Ballets Canadiens), Jacqueline Lemieux (Entre-Six dance company), Françoise Riopelle (choreographer and professor at UQÀM), Martine Époque (Nouvelle Aire dance company), Claude Larouche (Danse-Partout dance company from Québec City).

[xxvi] Diane Carrière, email to authors, January 30, 2011.

[xxvii] The doyenne of professional dance teaching who fought long and hard for recognition, was Ludmilla Chiriaeff, founder and director of the Grands Ballets Canadiens.  She opened the École supérieure de danse in 1966, which by the 1970s already offered a high level of technical training.  She also established classical ballet training at the Pierre-Laporte high school to prepare future students to enter her school.  Several other dance companies also offered professional level training, among them Groupe Nouvelle Aire, Groupe de la Place Royale and Compagnie Eddy Toussaint. For a comprehensive account of Chiriaeff and GBC, see Nicolle Forget, Danser pour ne pas mourir (Montréal, Canada: Éditions Québec Amérique: 2006).

[xxviii] Diane Carrière, email to the authors, January 30, 2011.

[xxix] The pedagogy classes were taught by Madeleine Lord beginning in 1980, who earned her Ph.D. at the Université Laval in Québec City.

[xxx] Diane Carrière and Rose-Marie Lèbe, interview by the authors, tape recording, October 25, 2010.

[xxxi] Ibid.

[xxxii] Although in theory they were seeking students with a good level of dance experience, because dance education was not yet developed in the public school system their first cohort came from a variety of backgrounds and levels of sophistication in dance.

[xxxiii] Université du Québec, Service des archives et de gestion des documents. Projet de programme de baccalauréat en danse. Avis du doyen. Excerpt from the Fonds d’archives du Secrétariat général (1U), 79e réunion du Conseil d’administration (June 26, 1979): 2. The period of reflection leading up to the final draft of the UQAM dance programme began in 1970, as specified in another document from the UQAM archives, B.SP. en danse, vol. 1 (1976).

[xxxiv] Françoise Riopelle, interview by the authors, tape recording, November 16, 2010.

[xxxv] Université du Québec à Montréal, Service des archives et de gestion des documents. Excerpt from the 180th meeting of the Comité exécutif (June 5, 1979): 16.

[xxxvi] Silvy Panet-Raymond, interview by the authors, tape recording, December 21, 2010.

[xxxvii] Ibid.

[xxxviii] Riopelle, interview.

[xxxix] Carrière and Lèbe, interview.

[xl] Panet-Raymond, interview; and email to the authors, February 1, 2011.

[xli] Standing beside the women founders were three visionary men, with privileged positions at the universities, preparing the administrative frameworks for the commissioning of the programmes. Arthur Scheedy, director of the Département d’Éducation Physique at the UdeM, was driven by a personal mandate to expand the dance component. Alfred Pinsky, Dean of Concordia University’s Faculty of Fine Arts, dreamed of a landmark hothouse for danse d’auteur, one which would gain recognition within the Canadian art world (from Panet-Raymond’s interview). At UQAM, sculptor Jean-Pierre Boivin became a strong advocate of arts education and as Vice-Dean of the Famille des arts, defended the project to establish the Regroupement théâtre et danse.

[xlii] Jacqueline M. Smith-Artaud, The Art of Dance in Education (London, Great Britain: A. & C. Publishers, 1994): 4-5.

[xliii] John Dewey, Art as Experience (New York: Capricorn Books, 1934).

[xliv] Laban, 1948.

[xlv] Margaret H’Doubler, Dance: A Creative Art Experience (Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1940): X.

[xlvi] For a in-depth critical narrative about this formative period, see Ross, 2000.

[xlvii] Panet-Raymond, interview.

[xlviii] Silvy Panet-Raymond, email to authors, January 29, 2010.

[xlix] Ninon Gauthier worked together with Riopelle on drafting the text of the programme proposal, and had been mandated by UQAM to study the necessity of a university dance programme in Québec. See Université du Québec (June 5, 1979).Her name also appears as the author of various committee reports on dance education.

[l] Riopelle, interview.

[li] Carrière, email to authors, January 30, 2011.

[lii] Gomez, Ninoska and Diane Carrière, “Enhancing Dance Competance:  An Analysis of the Information-Processing Demands.” In Diana Theodores Taplin, ed.,  “New Directions in Dance:  Collected Writings from the Seventh Dance in Canada Conference held at the University of Waterloo, Canada, June 1979  (Toronto, Ontario, Canada:  Pergamon Press, 1979): 227.

[liii] Politique de la danse (Québec, Canada: Ministère des Affaires culturelles, 1984): 58.

[liv] Ibid., Annex 1, 24.  The École supérieure de danse is now known by the name École supérieure de ballet contemporain de Montréal.

[lv] The Département de danse at UQAM became a separate entity in 1985 under the direction of Martine Époque and three years later in 1988, Concordia’s dance programme gained the status of a full-fledged dance department through the sustained efforts of its director Silvy Panet-Raymond.

[lvi] More precisely, the mission statement reads “The program is designed to develop contemporary dancers and choreographers, with emphasis on the discovery and development of the creative capacity of each student.”

[lvii] Université du Québec, Service des archives et de gestion des documents. Projet de programme de baccalauréat en danse. Avis du doyen. Excerpt from Fonds d’archives du Secrétariat général (1U), 79e réunion du Conseil d’administration (June 26, 1979): 2.

[lviii] Ibid.

[lix] Tembeck, 1991.

[lx] Lèbe, email to authors, January 29. 2011.

[lxi] Angèle Dagenais, “La danse à l’université: encore une utopie?,” Le Devoir (January 27, 1979).

[lxii] Ibid.

2 responses »

  1. Good suggestions about adding my urls! I am also engaged in the project to build a discourse and profession for Live Arts Curation, and you can see more at cica-icac.org. I’d love to engage in a conversation — virtual or through skype. Contact me at dena@tangente.qc.ca. Would love to know more about you and your interest in the text on Montréal dance.

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