Born in Montreal, Fernand Nault studied dance with Maurice Morenoff and then with acclaimed masters in New York, London and Paris. He passed away in 2006 in Montreal.
From 1944 to 1965 he was a dancer and then ballet master at the American Ballet Theatre, where from 1960 to 1964 he was also director of that New York–based company’s school.
In 1965 he joined Les Grands Ballets Canadiens as co-artistic director and resident choreographer. He was instrumental in the company’s development by creating works of astonishing diversity, pieces that ranged from the classical to the neoclassical by way of the contemporary and theatrical dance. He introduced to the repertoire such works as La Fille mal gardée, Danses concertantes, Symphony of Psalms, Liberté tempérée, La Scouine and The Seven Deadly Sins, not forgetting The Nutcracker – which has been presented every year since 1964 – and two works that have enjoyed enormous success around the world, Carmina Burana and Tommy.
While remaining resident choreographer of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Fernand Nault worked at the École supérieure de danse du Québec as choreographer and ballet master. Between 1985 and 1988 he put together, at the instigation of Ludmilla Chiriaeff, several series of shows intended to awaken a taste for dance in primary- and secondary-school students as well as in students at Montreal-area Cegeps.
Fernand Nault conceived numerous choreographies for Alberta Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, National Ballet of Korea, Joffrey Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Ballet Federation of the Philippines, Delta Festival Ballet and Washington Ballet. Additionally, from 1978 to 1981 he was guest choreographer and, from 1981 to 1982, artistic director with the Colorado Ballet. His other collaborations include choreographies for Opéra de Montréal productions of Aida and The Merry Widow, in 1986 and 1991 respectively.
Carmina Burnana (1966)
Divertissement Glazounov (1966)
La Lettre (1967)
Pas de Soleil (1967)
Pas Rompu (1968)
Symphonie de Psaumes (1969)
Hip & Straight (1970)
Points et Contrepoints (1970)
La Fille Mal Gardée (1971)
Danses Concertantes (1972)
Cantique des Cantiques (1974)
Liberté Tempérée (1976)
La Scouine (1977)
Les Sept Péchés Capitaux (1978)
Try, Ready, Go (1978)
Pas d'Époque (1980)
Chants de Douleur, Chants d'Allégresse (1981)
Le Temps Avant, Le Temps Après... (1986)
The Government of Canada paid tribute to Fernand Nault on three occasions, presenting him in 1967 with the Centennial Medal, in 1977 the Order of Canada, and in 2000 the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award. In 1976 he received the choreography first prize at the VIIth Varna International Ballet Competition in Bulgaria for his ballet Incohérence. In 1984 he was honored with the Prix Denise-Pelletier for performing arts. And in 1990 he was appointed Knight of the Ordre national du Québec and named choreographer emeritus of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens.
In 2003 Fernand Nault created the Fonds chorégraphique Fernand Nault, a trust whose mission is to ensure the continuity of his choreographic heritage and to make his works accessible to professional dance companies and schools.