Artistic Director and Founder

Education and Training

Eddy Toussaint was born in Haiti, where he began studying classical ballet at the age of six. His teacher was Lavinia Williams, former dancer for Kathrine Dunham and Alvin Alley. When he was eleven, Mr. Toussaint's family fled Haiti and moved to Montreal. Continuing his classes with most of the great masters of the time, he studied with Eva Von Genscy and Zeda Zare from Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, as well as the big names in jazz: Matt Mattox and Luigi in New York. For three years, Mr. Toussaint followed his parents in Paris where he was very influenced by many teachers and French masters such as Jannine Charat, Yvette Chauviré, Roland Petit, and Rosella Hightower.

Mr. Toussaint received a bachelor's degree in pedagogy from the University of Montreal and a bachelor's degree in physical education with a dance major from Université du Québec à Montréal.

The Compagnie de Danse Eddy Toussaint

It was in 1971 that Mr. Toussaint founded the École de Danse and the Compagnie de Danse Eddy Toussaint. In 1973, he was guest teacher at the Banff School of Fine Arts.

Mr. Toussaint was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Fédération de la danse du Québec from 1974 to 1978. It was also during this period that he danced in many television variety shows such as the 20th Canadian Broadcasting Radio-Canada (CBC) Gala Anniversary, and many more, every Sunday for 32 weeks. Later, he choreographed for these same TV shows.

In 1976, the company was invited to the Olympic Games in Montreal and for this special occasion, Mr. Toussaint created Damballah, inspired by his native Haiti. This ballet was a real success for the box office as well as for the critics.

In 1977, the company embarked on a tour of 40 cities in Quebec and eastern Canada…a record on the Canadian dance scene for so many cities.

For the company, he has developed a diversified repertoire already which was impressive for this young company.

Aiello (North Carolina Ballet), Jacques Fabre (Avignon and Toulouse Ballet, France), Jean Garcia (Strasbourg Ballet), Fernand Nault (Les Grands Ballets Canadiens), Domy Reiter Soffer (London Festival Ballet), Vassili Sulich (Nevada Dance Theater), and Eva Von Genscy (Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal).

From 1976 to 1989, the company visited several opera houses, some of the world's biggest capitals, in many prestigious international dance festivals, alongside such luminaries as Alicia Alonso (from Ballet Nacional de Cuba), Mikhail Baryshnikov (from the American Ballet Theater), Sylvie Guillem (Royal Ballet), and Patrick Dupont (Paris Opera Ballet), just to name a few.

His Achievements

The Ballet de Montréal Eddy Toussaint

In 1983, Mr. Toussaint was the recipient of the Great Montrealer Award for his personal contribution to the arts in the city of Montreal. In 1984, he also received the gold medal for the best choreography at the first international ballet competition in Helsinki, Finland. The finalists were world-renowned choreographers such as Roland Petit, Maurice Béjart, Norbert Vesak, and Jiri Kylian.

In 1985, Mr. Toussaint was invited as a "guest of honor" with his company at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina.

In 1986, the famous Italian maestro Gian Carlos Menetti, founder of the Spoleto Festival, chose Mr. Toussaint's "Un Simple Moment" for his 75th anniversary gala in Rome.

In 1987, the dancers Jean-Marc Lebeau and Louis Robitaille joined with the famous Montréal Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Charles Dutoit, in Stravinsky's television production Firebird. This performance won a gold medal in Prague, Czechoslovakia and an Emmy Award in New York, a production of Radio-Canada TV Montreal.

In 1988, at the invitation of Toussaint, Rudolf Nureyev and Charles Jude performed the Songs of the Wayfarer, music by Gustave Mahler and a choreography by Maurice Béjart for his company. The same year, sharing the stage with the Stuttgart Ballet (Marcia Haydée, artistic director), at the Spoleto Festival in Italy, where his Mozart Requiem (ballet) was filmed by Italian television in Rome because of its huge success.

In 1987, Mr. Toussaint was invited this time to the other Spoleto Festival in Sydney, Australia. The critics were stunned! During the same year, Mr. Toussaint was invited by Yuri Grigorovich, artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet, to be a judge at the prestigious competition of the International Dance Festival of Nyon, and asked him to write the preface of one of his books, translated into Russian.

The Sarasota Ballet of Florida

In 1990, he formed the Sarasota Ballet of Florida and became their first artistic director as well as principal choreographer. With two international summer workshops and galas, he has brought teachers and ballet stars from all over the world. He started the “Dance: The Next Generation”, in collaboration with the University of Florida; a seven-year program for financially disadvantaged talented children.

Each year, fifty children were chosen to receive ballet training, French lessons, etiquette, theater and dance history. Clothes and transport were provided. He also established a summer workshop for the Sarasota Ballet of Florida, bringing the best teachers of the time from Russia, Germany, Canada, Italy, and America.

The US government had offered a special visa to Mr. Toussaint to settle in Sarasota: a visa reserved for artists of distinguished merit and demonstrated critical ability, recognition and praise for outstanding achievements in their field.

1991 was a new challenge, Mr. Toussaint choreographed Rhythm for Polyana Ribeiro of the Harid Conservatory. He was fascinated by the talent of this young dancer, and their association received a gold medal in the junior category for Miss Ribeiro in the Helsinki International Ballet Competition.

As a fundraiser, Mr. Toussaint organized an international gala with his friends, dancers from all over the world such as Pierra Pedretti (La Scala of Milan), Kimberley Glascow and Alexander Antonovitch (National Ballet of Canada), Alexander Vetrov and Olga Pavlova (Bolshoi Ballet), Yulia Makhalina (Kirov Ballet), Gilles Maiddon and Maggie Smith (Ballet West), Sacha Yapparov and Irina Volkoya (Odessa Ballet).

With the help of a few friends, Mr. Toussaint prepared the formation of the Ballet Eddy Toussaint of the United States, including the formation of the board of directors, the fundraising group ESPRIT DE CORPS, etc. In 1994, the Ballet Eddy Toussaint USA was born and a Dance School was also established in Sarasota, Florida.

Also in 1987, the Toulouse Opera Ballet in France honored Mr. Toussaint, the choreographer, by performing two weeks of his work only. The critics were once again extraordinary! That same year, Mr. Toussaint received a special grant from the Florida State Arts Council to develop dance through a two-month residency for a period of three years.

1988 marked the beginning of a fruitful cultural exchange between the Ballet de Montréal Eddy Toussaint and the Odessa Opera Ballet in Russia. Also in 1988, Mr. Toussaint was honored by the Quebec-Haiti Association for the best artistic achievement of the Montreal community.

From 1994 to 2006

In 1998, he was appointed artistic advisor and resident choreographer of the Moravian-Silesian National Ballet in the Czech Republic. There, he discovered the exceptional talent of Zdenek Konvalina. As a coach, he created two new works that Mr. Konvalina performed in the Helsinki International Competition in June 2001 and received the gold medal.

Since then, while very much in demand as a freelance choreographer, he has been a consultant and member of various prestigious boards and arts organizations around the world such as the Houston Art Council for Grants, and the judge at the New York International Youth Ballet Competition (Youth American Grand Prix).

In 2001, Mr. Toussaint's Bonjour Brel was chosen to be danced by Alexander Vetrov and Olga Pavlova (stars of the Bolshoi Ballet). In the same program, there was also Allegro Brilliante from Balanchine and the famous Carmen of Alberto Alonzo of the National Ballet of Cuba.

In 2003, Mr. Toussaint organized "Tribute to Stravinsky's Musical Legacy" in Sarasota, where he officially introduced his new protégé Zdenek Konvalina to this oriented art community. At this gala evening, Konvalina performed excerpts from the ballet Encounters, choreographed by Toussaint on the music of Soulima Stravinsky, son of the famous Igor Stravinsky. All the benefits of the evening went to the Sarasota Music School, an organization where Françoise Stravinsky (wife of Soulima) was the chair of the council. She was also a board member of Ballet Eddy Toussaint USA. This gala has been one of the most popular at the international level for Stravinsky fans. They came from Europe, Asia, South America, even from Australia to honor Stravinsky's work.

On the invitation of the living legend Alicia Alonzo, Mr. Toussaint went to Cuba with Konvalina to attend his famous International Ballet Festival of 2003 in this country of dance lovers. Konvalina was invited to dance as the first dancer in the production of Swan Lake in this exceptional company.

Mr. Toussaint has choreographed more than 104 ballets, including Bonjour Brel, which was chosen to be part of the opening gala program of the new opera house in Moscow. Using classical ballet as his basic vocabulary, Mr. Toussaint's work was particularly commended for his ability to use the personalities and interpretive skills of his dancers as a way to engage his audience emotionally.

Mr. Toussaint has had his ballets from the repertoire of the Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal, San Diego Ballet, Sarasota Ballet of Florida, Caracas Ballet in Venezuela, Ballet West, St. Louis Ballet, Ballet Toulouse in France, Brandywine Ballet, Ballet Concierto de Puerto Rico, Avignon Ballet in France, Bordeaux Ballet and the National Ballet of Moravia-Silesia in Brno, Czech Republic.

For 6 years (2001 to 2006), Mr. Toussaint was a member of the Arts Council of Houston, Texas. This allowed him to bring alternately Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and the first company he founded the Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal.

His Return to Canada

In 2007, Mr. Toussaint was appointed Developmental Director for the Goh Ballet in Vancouver. His role was to bring this amateur company to a professional level. Missing his family in Montreal, he returned to Quebec and created a ballet on the life of the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, born under the name Joseph de Boulogne, the first composer of black classical music. This ballet was a first, because he accomplished one of his dreams, to combine music, dance and theater.

In December 2009, he reopened the company The Ballet Eddy Toussaint and in 2010 brought his principal dancers Klara Houdet and Timothy Tompkins to the International Ballet Competition in Sibiu, Romania where they won several prizes including the Prize of the President of the Jury (Irek Mukhamedov) for his choreography L'Irréparable Saint-George. Houdet and Tompkins won the gold medal for the best couple in the competition and Klara Houdet won the gold medal for the best female dancer in the senior category.

In 2012, Eddy Toussaint and his company toured Mexico for 35 days with 29 shows and 16 festivals. The critics were blown away. In October 2012, the McGill Chamber Orchestra invited his company to dance at the new symphony hall of Place des Arts one of his latest creations, Hommage to André Gagnon.

In 2013, pursuing the democratization of ballet in Quebec, he brought his favorite ballet Alexis Le Trotteur to the Magdalen Islands. In March of this year, Mr. Toussaint re-opens the École de Danse Eddy Toussaint and is also named winner of the Montreal’s Black History Month.

The École de Danse Eddy Toussaint in 2014 became the only ballet school in the Greater Montreal region to be recognized by the Society of Russian Ballet.

In February 2015, the École de Danse Eddy Toussaint under the direction of Mr. Timothy Tompkins organizes their first Russian Ballet exams.

In 2016, Mr. Toussaint moved the school and the company to Laval: making Ballet Eddy Toussaint, the first professional ballet company in Laval.

Today at age 72, Eddy Toussaint, after 50 years of professional life, his objectives are the same being to develop a school that will produce professional dancers with the opportunity to pursue an international career.