Jack Udashkin Retires After a Rich Artistic Journey

By Colleen Snell
  • Jack Udashkin / Photo by Guillaume Briand
  • Jack et les artistes de la saison 14-15 / Photo by Jarom Osorio

Jack Udashkin, the current director of Théâtre La Chapelle in Montréal, will be retiring at the end of March after a rich, remarkable and diverse forty-year career in the arts. Christiane Chaput will assume the post of interim director while a new candidate is sought.

Udashkin’s portfolio has included a number of roles, including director of dance programming and special projects at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, a role he held for twelve years. Over the course of his career Udashkin has directed, founded and produced many festivals (nationally and internationally), won an Emmy for the film Le Dortoir, and has held diverse positions in the arts, including editor, publicist, lighting designer, photographer and technical director. Udashkin was the general director of many influential dance companies, among these Fortier Danse-Création, La La La Human Steps and Compagnie Marie Chouinard. In 1995, he was named Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France for strengthening and enriching Canada-France relations.

In a statement released this week Udashkin was lauded for his sense of innovation, support for emerging artists, courage and innovative spirit. In conversation, he put a personal touch on these achievements, sharing memorable moments, including working with dancer Margie Gillis, producing La LaLa Human Steps and “that moment when we had to find Bob Dylan’s guitar when it was stolen from the stage.” Udashkin reflected that, along the course of his career, some moments were more intense than others; however he was grateful to have been “continually exposed to people that were passionate and generous. Being around them continually has been wonderful … it’s really been a lot of fun.”

Udashkin has “been at it for a long time,” and has lived through a “highly pressurized” forty years. When asked what is next, Udashkin mentions with relief that his immediate plans include making Swedish meatballs and orange Jell-O, writing, conquering a 1500 piece jigsaw puzzle and choosing just the right name for his new dog.~

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