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31 Aug 2005 Simcoe Reformer
Vittoria man named to Order of Canada

Monte Sonnenberg
Simcoe Reformer

VITTORIA -- Ottawa has recognized a Norfolk man with an Order of Canada for his outstanding contribution to the arts. 

Yesterday, Governor General Adrienne Clarkson announced the 82 latest appointments to the prestigious circle. Among them is James Kudelka, 49, of Vittoria. Until recently, Kudelka was the long serving artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada.

Kudelka was one of 28 Officers of the Order of Canada named yesterday.

"I'm still the same person I was when I woke up this morning," Kudelka said last night by phone from Toronto. "I don't think it's going to change anything in my life. I always made a big change in my life earlier this year when I stepped down from the National Ballet of Canada as artistic director. I'm also turning 50 in September, so I have a lot of balls in the air."

The National Ballet of Canada replaced Kudelka with prima ballerina Karen Kain. Kudelka remains attached to the company as its resident choreographer.

The federal government recognized Kudelka in part for his dazzling and original contribution in the world of dance. The productions he has created and directed since the mid-1980s have prompted gushing reviews across North America.

"Our balletic neighbors to the north can boast a choreographic treasure in Kudelka," the San Francisco Chronicle wrote in 2004.

"James Kudelka: easily ballet's most original choreographer," The New York Times wrote in 2002.

"His is choreography that feeds the heart and the mind -- and thus the very soul of the National," The Toronto Globe & Mail commented in 2001.

Kudelka grew up on a dairy farm in Newmarket, north of Toronto. He has resided in Vittoria for the past 15 years.

Last night, Kudelka said Norfolk has given him the opportunity to live the bucolic youth he was looking forward to in Newmarket but missed due to rampant development and sprawl.

Kudelka likes that Norfolk is rustic, rural and off the beaten path. He feels the pace of life in Vittoria and surrounding area is saner than the city. Kudelka especially enjoys that Norfolk celebrates its history and has hung on to its significant buildings.

"Norfolk was the land people forgot about and I thought how fortunate I was to find it," Kudelka said. "There are a lot of buildings and vistas that haven't been destroyed. There's something worth fighting for here. When I go back to Newmarket, it seems the battle has been lost."

Others named to the Order of Canada include Olympic speed skating champion Catriona Le May Doan, former British Columbia premier David Barrett, the late ABC News anchor Peter Jennings and Steve Smith -- aka Red Green of The Red Green Show.

--with files from Canadian Press


James Kudelka