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A native of Rochester, New York, Peter Boneham danced professionally in New York before joining Les Grands Ballets Canadiens (later renamed Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal) in 1965. In 1966, he became a charter member of Le Groupe de la Place Royale, and in 1972, Boneham and Jean-Pierre Perreault were appointed co-artistic directors of the company.
The company moved from Montréal to Ottawa in 1977 and Boneham became the sole artistic director in 1981. When faced with financial restrictions that threatened the company's existence, Boneham innovatively transformed Le Groupe into a choreographic lab, renaming it Le Groupe Dance Lab.
Choreographers apply to work with Le Groupe's company of dancers over a period of weeks to research a new work, with a senior artist acting as a mentor. At the end of the choreographer's residency, the work-in-progress is shown to the public, who are given an opportunity to respond in a discussion session after each performance. The list of dancers and choreographers who have been influenced by Boneham and his company comprise a veritable “who's who” of dance in Canada
In 1991, Boneham won the first Jean A. Chalmers Award for Creativity in Dance. He has earned the distinction of being the longest serving artistic director in Canadian contemporary dance. Boneham was awarded the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for lifetime achievement in the performing arts in 2005.
Monk, Davida. “Agent Provocateur: Peter Boneham.” This Passion: for the love of dance. Ed. Carol Anderson. Toronto: Dance Collection Danse Press/es, 1998: 125-134.
Tembeck, Iro. Danser à Montréal: Germination d’une histoire chorégraphique. Sillery, HQ: Presses de l’Université du Québec, 1991. [Translated and revised by the author as Dancing in Montreal: Seeds of a Choreographic History. Madison, WI: Society of Dance History Scholars, 1994.]