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Father of Canadian ballet commemorated with historic plaque

By Brittany Duggan
  • Boris Volkoff

Heritage Toronto commemorated Boris Volkoff, the Canadian ballet pioneer, on December 12th with the presentation of an historic plaque at the Toronto Reference Library. A Russian-born ballet teacher and choreographer, Volkoff was instrumental in developing an audience for ballet in Toronto and Canada beginning in the 1930s. Volkoff sought to cultivate and educate the public’s appreciation for the fine arts. He did this through both the works he choreographed for his Volkoff Canadian Ballet and the ice ballets he did for the Toronto Skating Club. He brought his group of dancers to perform at the cultural festival at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, and was one of the co-founders of the Canadian Ballet Festivals in 1948. A year before his death in 1974, Volkoff was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada for his pioneer work in the field. The plaque in honour of his memory was supported by the Boris Volkoff Reunion Committee and Heritage Toronto and will be installed on the building at 771 Yonge Street, the former site of Volkoff’s studio, in the spring of 2010.

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