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Ballet Kelowna’s founding artistic director, David LaHay, departs as the season closes

By Sarah Todd
  • David LaHay / Photo by Glenna Turnbull Photography
  • Jedidiah Duifhuis, Clare Bassett, Julie Pham, David LaHay, Desiree Bortolussi, Kurt Werner and Manuel Sorge on the final leg of the spring 2014 tour / Photo by Barbara Holliday
  • David LaHay / Photo by Glenna Turnbull Photography

Ballet Kelowna bade farewell to its founding artistic director, David LaHay, at the final performance of the 2013-2014 season. LaHay came to Kelowna, B.C.,  in 2002 to start the ballet company. In his twelve-year tenure, LaHay created twenty new choreographic works for the company, including Bolero, Divertimenti, Donizetti Dances, Exsultate Jubilate, Five for Frank, In Arden Woods, Journey Out of Darkness, Liebeslieder Waltzes, Romanza, Romeo and Juliet Appassionata, The Promise of Angels (II) and Tangazzo. LaHay helped launch the careers of forty emerging ballet dancers from across Canada, such as current company members Desiree Bortolussi, Julie Pham and Jedidiah Duifhuis.

Born in Montréal, LaHay was a principal dancer with Les Grand Ballets Canadiens, and ballet master at The Ottawa Ballet, The Alberta Ballet and Sweden’s The Goetheburg Ballet, as well as teaching at The Hartford Ballet, Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal and the Banff Centre, among other venues. When reached for comment regarding his departure LaHay lamented that the past twelve years passed by “faster than a pas de bourrée.” He has no current plans set in the dance world, but after “forty-three years on [his] feet,” LaHay will take some well-earned rest, “relaxing, travelling and smelling the roses.”

Ballet Kelowna is currently seeking a new artistic director, and a formal announcement of the appointment will be made this summer.

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