After a lifelong commitment to the growth and well-being of dance in Canada, Toronto-based Jacque Foesier died on July 12 at the age of eighty-two.
Foesier was born April 5, 1934, and was nineteen before beginning dance training at the Edmonton School of Ballet. At twenty-one he attended the school at the historic Jacob’s Pillow in Becket, Massachusetts, on full scholarship. There he studied with the likes of Ted Shawn, founder of Jacob’s Pillow, and Margaret Craske, ballet mistress for the Metropolitan Opera Ballet School, who later brought Foesier to study with her at the Ballet School in New York. During his year and a half in New York, Foesier performed with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet and trained in modern with José Limón and Betty Jones.
Foesier returned to Canada to train at Canada’s National Ballet School and to obtain his teacher’s certification. He founded the Leaside School of Dance in East York, ON, and taught at and witnessed the growth of the of the dance program at the YM-YWHA, a Jewish community centre in Montréal. Foesier was later appointed director of the Koffler Centre School of Dance in Toronto and also founded Burlington’s Children’s Theatre School of Ballet. Ever the arts advocate, Foesier acted as president of the Canadian Dance Teachers Association (Ontario Branch), as founding advisor to the Ontario Arts Council, as board member to the North York Arts Council, as a member of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Arts Policy and was the founding chair to Dance Ontario. The Dance Place in North York, ON, was created in 1988 in partnership with his late wife, Jeanne, and serves as a not-for-profit school of dance for emerging artists, teachers and choreographers alike.
Dance Ontario’s board members paid tribute to Foesier by posting their thoughts on his life on the organization’s website. Ariel Len remembers that “As a founder and integral changemaker both of, and within, countless organizations, programs, committees and boards, his boundless energy, hard work and original thinking, made major differences for many generations of Canadians, most particularly for children and youth.” “He was a captain’s captain,” says Lola Ryan. “His legacy is considerable and, like the man himself, quiet and understated.”
The funeral service took place at the Blessed Trinity Roman Catholic Church in Toronto on July 19, 2016.
In February 2017, the board of directors of the Canadian Society for Dance Studies / La Société canadienne d’études en dance and the organization’s founder, Amy Bowring, announced its dissolution, citing low membership renewals and consequently less access to administrative funding.