Excellence in Arts & Entertainment: John Alleyne

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John Alleyne is a major figure in the world of dance in Canada.

He began his association with Ballet British Columbia (Ballet BC) in the late 1980s, when he was invited to choreograph several new works for the west coast company, among them Flying To Paris (1989), Go Slow Walter (1990) and Talk About Wings (1991).

The prolific choreographer was appointed artistic director of Ballet BC in 1992. His leadership marked the beginning of a creative and prosperous period in the company’s history, where he created one-act and full-length ballets to expand Ballet BC’s contemporary ballet repertoire.

He implemented assertive outreach strategies for strengthening the company’s identity locally, nationally and internationally.

Dedicated to the development of his craft, Alleyne’s choreography is noted for its technical complexity and innovative expansion of the classical ballet lexicon.

A number of internationally respected companies, festivals, and institutions have commissioned new choreography from Alleyne, performed as part of a variety of festivals, co-productions, and special events, including the Canada Dance Festival, the New York City Ballet’s Diamond Project and the San Francisco Ballet’s celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations – United We Dance.

Alleyne was born in Barbados and immigrated to Canada with his family in 1965. After graduating from The National Ballet School in Toronto in 1978, he joined the Stuttgart Ballet, where he began his choreographic career, creating numerous compelling works for the Noverre workshop and the company’s repertoire, including Phases (1983), In Variation on a Theme (1984), as well as his first commission, Weiderkehr (1985).

In 1984, Alleyne returned to Canada and joined The National Ballet of Canada as a first soloist, accepting the position as the company’s resident choreographer from 1990 to 1992, and creating “innovative and challenging works,” including Blue-Eyed Trek (1988), Split House Geometric (1989-1990), and Interrogating Slam (1991).

Alleyne is the recipient of many prestigious awards acknowledging his outstanding contribution to dance.

He was the recipient of Toronto’s Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Choreography for Interrogating Slam (1992); the Harry Jerome Award for Professional Excellence from the Black Business and Professional Association (1993); the first-ever honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Simon Fraser University (2003); the Vancouver Arts Award for Performing Arts, recognizing extraordinary achievement and promise (2004); and the Exceptional Achievement Award in the Performing Arts from the Black Historical and Cultural Society of British Columbia (2005).

Sponsored by: Don & Jon McKay.