Fernand Nault

Last updated: April 24, 2022

Born in Montreal, Fernand Nault first studied dance with Maurice Morenoff and then in New York, London and Paris with renowned masters. From 1944 to 1965, he was a dancer, then ballet master at The American Ballet Theatre. From 1960 to 1964, he was also director of the company’s school in New York.

In 1965, he joined Les Grands Ballets Canadiens as co‑artistic director and resident choreographer. He helped the company take flight by creating astonishingly diverse works, ranging from classical to neo‑classical, by way of contemporary and theatrical dance. Thus he added to the repertoire works such as La Fille mal gardée, Danses concertantes, Symphony of Psalms, Liberté tempérée, La Scouine and The Seven Deadly Sins not to mention his famous The Nutcracker presented each year since 1964 and two works of resounding success and international renown: Carmina Burana and Tommy.

Fernand Nault remained resident choreographer of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens while serving as choreographer and ballet master at l’École supérieure de danse du Québec. Between 1985 and 1988, at the request of Ludmilla Chiriaeff, he organized several series of performances intended to foster a taste for dance among elementary, secondary schools and cegeps students in the Montreal region.

Fernand Nault has conceived choreographies for The American Ballet Theatre, The Joffrey Ballet, The Atlanta Ballet, The Ballet Federation of the Philippines, The Delta Festival Ballet and The Washington Ballet. From 1978 to 1981 he was guest choreographer and, from 1981 to 1982, artistic director of The Colorado Ballet. Among other collaborations, Fernand Nault choreographed the dance sequences of Aïda and La Veuve joyeuse presented by L’Opéra de Montréal in 1986 and 1991.

Fernand Nault has received three awards from the Canadian government, the Centennial Medal, in 1967, the Order of Canada, in 1977 and the Governor General’s awards for the performing arts, in 2000. He has been awarded the prize for choreography, in 1976, for his ballet Incohérence at the 7th International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria. In 1984, he was honoured by the Government of Quebec with the prix Denise‑Pelletier, a lifetime achievement award. In 1990, he was accepted as a Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Québec and was named Choreographer Emeritus of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens.

In 2003, Fernand Nault founded the Fonds chorégraphique Ferrnand Nault, a trust with mission to insure the continuity of his choreographic heritage and to make accessible is repertoire to professional dance companies and schools.

Fernand Nault passed away on December 26th 2006 at the dawn of his 86th anniversary.

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