Les Grands Ballets wishes to honor the memory of Nicholas Cernovitch (1929-2018), lighting designer emeritus of the company since 1995, who passed away on August 28.
A native of Illinois, Cernovitch studied painting, design and color theory from 1948 to 1952 with the painter Josef Albers, along with dance, theater and photography at Black Mountain College. After his studies he threw himself tirelessly into the New York scene and designed lighting for choreographers like Merce Cunningham, Alvin Ailey, José Limon, Alwin Nikolais and Paul Taylor. He was also an active member of New York’s Living Theatre as well as the Judson Church.
It was early in the following decade that Cernovitch settled in Canada; he became lighting designer in residence for Les Grands Ballets beginning in 1970 – the year he did the famous lighting for Fernand Nault’s flamboyant Tommy – until his retirement in 1995. We are in his debt for the lighting he brought to many remarkable productions in the company’s repertoire, among them Fernand Nault’s Carmina Burana, Antony Tudor’s Jardin aux lilas, Nacho Duato’s Jardí Tancat and James Kudelka’s In Paradisum. His creations shine to this day: Revelations, for example, a flagship work of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, while for fifty-five years Montreal has been using the lighting he designed for Fernand Nault’s The Nutcracker at Les Grands Ballets.
In the course of his career, this pioneer in stage lighting was mentor to a number of designers, and there can be no doubt that his influence will make itself felt for many years to come.
Thank you, Nick, and adieu.