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Canadian dance pioneer Grant Strate has died after a short bout with cancer at his Vancouver home. He was 87.

Born December 7, 1927, in Cardston, Alta., Mr. Strate was the founder of the dance department at York University in Toronto and nurtured many of the country's dance artists, especially in the genres of modern and contemporary dance.

A charter member of the National Ballet of Canada, Mr. Strate joined the ballet company in Toronto in 1951 as a dancer under the direction of Celia Franca. He was resident choreographer of the company from 1964 to 1970.

A graduate of the University of Alberta, he studied with Laine Metz, a student of the highly influential German dance artist, Mary Wigman.

He had also been a guest choreographer in Antwerp, Belgium, from 1966 to 1967, and the Royal Swedish Ballet, from 1968 to 1969, creating over 50 ballets.

In his native Canada, Mr. Strate was a highly regarded dance educator who was committed to the development of a Canadian dance aesthetic.

In addition to founding Canada's first degree program in dance at York in 1970, Mr. Strate helped inaugurate the Dance in Canada Association in 1973.

He had been director of the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University from 1980 to 1989.

He was awarded the Order of Canada and Governor-General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement.

In Vancouver he was a major behind the scenes player who pushed forward the building of the ScotiaBank Dance Theatre.

Mr. Strate had multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer. His companion, the Chinese born dancer Wen Wei Wang, has written on his Facebook page that Mr. Strate died peacefully at home on Feb. 9, almost two months after receiving a blood transfusion at Vancouver General Hospital.

His memorial service will take place Feb. 16 in Vancouver at the Mount Pleasant Universal Funeral Home, starting at 2pm.

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