History of the Company

The Ballet Eddy Toussaint, originally named Compagnie de Danse Eddy Toussaint, was founded in Montreal in 1974. The company had the privilege of becoming the first Quebecois company to dance in Washington, D.C under the invitation of American officials. The repertory of the company is composed of the works of Mr. Toussaint as well as other choreographers whose works are based on classical technique. Alongside of the company, l’École de Danse Eddy Toussaint had a student body of 700 students, a rare phenomenon at the time, but the real pride of Toussaint is that all of the dancers of the company, in their entirety, received their formation at that institution.

The style of Mr. Toussaint characterizes the marriage of classical dance and all other styles of dance today. Indeed, Mr. Toussaint uses elements of folklore, jazz, modern dance and even social dancing to show what he wants to express. His greatest inspiration always comes from the music he uses; it becomes a canvas for his creations, regardless of its source. Consequently, his varied repertory maintains the elegance, beauty, technique, and emotions of classical ballet.

Company Achievements

In 1975, the company was invited by the Haitian government to perform a series of shows at Théâtre Triomphe in Port-au-Prince. The first official performance in Montreal was at the Théâtre du Nouveau-Monde.

In 1976, the company performed at the ’76 Olympic Games with Toussaint’s choreography Damballah. This year, the company also was presented on several TV series…not to mention also their first series of sold-out performances at Place-Des-Arts.

In 1978, the company toured for two months in the Antilles and in South America as well as 21 cities in Quebec. This was a banner year for the company being televised by Radio-Canada for the Module 2027 and Toussaint’s Rhythm et Pas.

During that year as well, the company received collaborations from Mr. Arnold Spohr (artistic director of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet) and Michal Denard (principal dancer with the Paris Opera Ballet).

In 1979, the company had performed at Place-Des-Arts two iconic ballets by Toussaint : Alexis Le Trotteur (which was choreographed the year before) and Rose Latulipe that were both based on Quebec folklore. This year, the company inaugurated Quebec City Summer Festival and Complex LG2 of Baie-James.

In 1980, the company continued to tour throughout Canada (Quebec, Ontario, and the Maritimes), Haiti, Martinique, and Mexico (inaugurating the International Arts Festival in San Luis de Potosi). Even their two stars Louis Robitaille and Jean-Marc Lebeau were invited to participate in the production of Stravinsky’s Firebird, which won prestigious awards including an Emmy Award.

In 1981, the company continued its touring throughout Canada and Haiti and newly in Guadalupe. But this year, the Ballet Eddy Toussaint became the first dance company to perform in the White House in Washington, DC. Company dancers were also invited to do principal roles for the Ballet d’Avignon. Toussaint was also delighted that the company would dance for the Quebec Prime Minister René Lévesque in a gala in the St-Denis Theatre.

In 1982, the company is touring and performing more than ever. They go on a 2-month tour in France and Belgium, not mentioning the continuous tours in Canada. The Colombian government also invites the company to inaugurate the new Teatro Municipal Amira de la Rosa in Colombia.

In 1983, the company then took a long tour in Alberta. In the same year, Mr. Toussaint was named Great Montrealer. Also, the company undertook 50 performances at the Théâtre de îles de Montréal.

In 1984, the company toured in the US states of Texas and Louisiana. This year, Toussaint created Les Valses, which aired on Les Beaux Dimanches on Radio-Canada. 1984 proved to be an iconic year for the company because Toussaint sent his dancers to the International Ballet Competition in Helsinki, Finland which won him a gold-medal for Best Choreography with his piece Un Simple Moment among other renowned choreographers like Roland Petit, Maurice Béjart, Norbert Vesak, and Jiri Kylian. Bringing more fame and prestige to the Toussaint name, dancers such as Bissonnette and Robitaille were invited to take part in a film called “Night Magic” created by Lewis Furey and Leonard Cohen, which was choreographed by Toussaint and staged by Carole Laure.

In 1985, the company’s touring engagements continued to take off. They toured to 20 cities in the United States, Canada (Quebec and Alberta), London, Brussels, and Paris. This year Toussaint created one of his masterpieces Requiem which debuted at the Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto. The company also participated that year in the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina.

In 1986, the Toulouse Opera Ballet invited the company to exclusively do a two-week season of Toussaint’s choreography calling it Hommage à Eddy Toussaint. That year as well, Bissonnette and Robitaille were invited to dance again Un Simple Moment to the 75th Anniversary of the Spoleto Festival in its original city Spoleto, Italy. In addition, Toussaint’s Requiem graced the Montreal stage for the first time at the Place des Arts de Montréal.

Company relocates to Florida

In 1987, the company took residence in Florida thanks to the Floridian Government for the winter season. This year another masterpiece in Toussaint’s repertoire was created New World Symphony as well as Toussaint’s own futuristic Nutcracker. Company dancers Bissonnette and Robitaille were again invited abroad but this time to dance in the Gala of Stars alongside Mikhail Baryshnikov. This was a hallmark year for the École de Danse Eddy Toussaint as well collaborating with M. Origène Voisine to open the Option Danse program with the Collège Jean-Eudes which introduce company dancer and assistant director Jean-Marc Lebeau to launch the courses of this program for the the youth.

In 1988, the company celebrated its 15th Anniversary with a prestigious gala. With newly acquired international fame of Toussaint and the company, Toussaint negotiated an exchange of his dancers to perform with the Odessa Ballet in Ukraine. This year also under the acceptance of Mr. Toussaint, Rudolf Nureyev would dance alongside his company in the Festival International de Lanaudière. The company continued its residence in Florida.

In 1990, the Ballet Eddy Toussaint became the Sarasota Ballet of Florida. Mr. Toussaint brought with him his dancers, his costumes and sets, his employees, and his experience to Florida. There, he created the special program for less advantaged children called Dance…Next Generation. This program includes a training period of 8 years, from primary school to university level through agreements with the University of South Florida and it allows children to follow their academic studies while receiving training in classical dance. This school follows the Russian technique of ballet, Vaganova, and has produced high caliber dancers who have been engaged by the National Ballet of Canada, the English National Ballet, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, and many other prestigious dance companies around the world.

Returning to Canada

Upon returning to Montreal and after working in Russia, the Czech Republic, and the United States, Mr. Toussaint reassumes his place in the Canadian arts community. In September 2011, the new company made its debut at Places Des Arts, the grand artistic centerpoint of Montreal.

Since his return to Quebec, the company has toured domestically and internationally throughout the United States and Mexico.

In 2013, the École de Danse Eddy Toussaint reopened its doors reassuming its mission on educating the population but especially the youth in the art of classical dance. One of the school’s main priorities is to train students to a professional level so that they then can be prepared to dance professionally for the Ballet Eddy Toussaint.

In 2016, the Ballet Eddy Toussaint and its school relocated to Laval, QC in order to reach out to new untapped market.

For more in-depth information, please refer to the link below [Eddy Toussaint- CV and highlights]