Maurice Lacasse Morenoff

Maurice Lacasse Morenoff, dancer, teacher, choreographer (b at Montréal 2 Feb 1906; d there 23 Jan 1993) From the age of six, Maurice took lessons at the social DANCE studio, which his father, Adélard Lacasse, had opened in the city's east end in 1895.

Lacasse Morenoff, Maurice

Maurice Lacasse Morenoff, dancer, teacher, choreographer (b at Montréal 2 Feb 1906; d there 23 Jan 1993) From the age of six, Maurice took lessons at the social DANCE studio, which his father, Adélard Lacasse, had opened in the city's east end in 1895. There, in the 1920s, he met and secretly married Carmen Sierra (1905-90), a woman of French and Spanish extraction, and she would be his muse and stage partner throughout their lives. As luck would have it, on a moment's notice they replaced an injured Russian dancer who was passing through Montréal, and with their attractive acts and acrobatic pas de deux the couple thus embarked on a five-year North American tour (1926-31). During the journey, they Russified their name to Morenoff (Mor for Maurice, en for Carmen, and off to add Slavic colour).

On returning to Montréal, they took over the Lacasse studio, and the self-taught couple dispensed lessons in Spanish dance, acrobatics, physical conditioning and stretching, also adding ballet, which Maurice had learned from technical manuals. From 1936 to 1951, Morenoff was the resident choreographer for Les Variétés Lyrique, assisted by Carmen, who danced in his creations and made the costumes. From the operettas and musical comedies at Les Variétés Lyriques, and participation in the annual recitals at the Petit Ballet Music Hall Morenoff, talented students acquired solid stage experience. Several strong male dancers initially trained by Morenoff and who would have international careers, gravitated to the studio, the most celebrated being Fernand Nault. They found in Morenoff the passion for dance required for a vocation that faced a clerical ban and public opinion. L'École Lacasse-Morenoff, a pioneer and leading Montréal studio, was influential over several decades. Morenoff conducted various historical and religious "pageants" on a large scale throughout the province. Although criticized by his contemporaries for his eclectic and non-purist approach, Morenoff still succeeded in maintaining the studio until 1986 - establishing a record 91 years in existence. The advent of television removed his work from the public eye, and other recently arrived choreographers would design the dances appearing regularly on the small screen.