Jeanne Renaud, dancer, choreographer, artistic director and administrator (b at Montréal 27 August 1928). A major figure in Québec contemporary dance, Renaud was closely associated with the AUTOMATISTES. Her sisters, Louise and Thérèse, signed the REFUS GLOBAL manifesto as did two of her peers in dance, Françoise SULLIVAN and Françoise Riopelle. Sullivan, Riopelle and Renaud are considered to be the founding mothers of Québecois modern dance.
Renaud first trained with Elizabeth Leese and Gérald Crevier in Montréal, then with Merce Cunningham, Hanya Holm and Mary Anthony in New York. In 1948 she and Sullivan gave a joint recital in Montréal, a reconstruction of which was commissioned in 1988 by the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal. By 1952, in the wake of the ostracism that greeted the Refus Global manifesto, Renaud joined some of the expatriate Automatistes in Paris where she presented danceworks at the American Club, enlisting the collaboration of painters Jean Paul RIOPELLE and composers Pierre MERCURE and Gabriel CHARPENTIER.
Renaud renewed her collaboration with Françoise Riopelle in Montréal in 1959, dancing, choreographing and teaching at the École de Danse Moderne de Montréal until 1965, when she branched out on her own with Expression 65 (a dance performance of several short works which took place in a pocket theatre at the Place Ville Marie). The success of this show encouraged her to found, with Peter Boneham, LE GROUPE DE LA PLACE ROYALE (Québec's first modern dance group) in 1966. Renaud stayed at the helm of GPR until 1972, working as a dancer, choreographer, artistic director and administrator. She also taught company members and students at the affiliated school. It was in this milieu that Jean-Pierre PERREAULT'S performing and choreographic talent first bloomed.
Following her resignation from Le Groupe, Renaud took on administrative positions with the CANADA COUNCIL and then the Ministère des affaires culturelles du québec before becoming head of the Conservatoire d'art dramatique du Québec in both Québec and Montréal and finally co-artistic director, with Linda Stearns, of LES GRANDS BALLETS CANADIENS (1985-87). After two years teaching in the dance department of Université du Québec à Montréal, she retired in 1989.
Dedicated to all forms of artistic experimentation, Renaud choreographed over 40 works, most of them for Le Groupe. Her pieces rejected narrative structures but favoured abstract multidisciplinary collaboration between the visual and performing arts.
In 1989 Renaud received the prestigious Prix du Québec Denise Pelletier, and in 1995 the Governor General's Award for the Performing Arts.