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Eva Von Gencsy. (Olivier Wecxsteen)
Eva Von Gencsy. (Olivier Wecxsteen)


Dancer Eva von Gencsy’s legacy is all that ballet-jazz Add to ...

Never a big eater, Ms. von Gencsy became frail and very thin. She hated to cook and could only make one dish – goulash. Worried friends dropped by her tiny apartment with food packages. Even the concierge at the Mountain Street building where she lived for 45 years made her soup.

In her later years, when travelling became too difficult, she continued to teach, holding recreational classes at the tony Midtown Le Sporting Club Sanctuaire. Her last teaching post was conducting recuperative classes for cancer patients at the Jewish General Hospital – right up to the day before her final collapse.

The end was sudden and dramatic. In conjunction with BJM’s 40th anniversary season, an evening of films was held at Cinémathèque Québécoise on April 3. Two of Ms. von Gencsy’s seminal choreographies were featured, Warm-up (1972) and Up There … Souls Dance Undressed Together (1975). In the middle of her introduction, which conveyed all her enthusiasm for life and dance, she suffered cardiac arrest.

She was revived, and lingered for another eight days. Her legion of friends take some solace in the fact that the last act of her life was on a stage. She was able to have a rueful laugh over the fact that Ms. Salbaing was scheduled to speak after her. Ms. Normandin said: “She finally managed to upstage Mme. Salbaing.”

Eva von Gencsy demanded truth from her doctor about her condition, he told her that she would soon be dancing with the angels. She accepted the inevitable end with grace and serenity, telling the doctor, “After all, I am 85!” shaving four years off her age, even in the face of death. Hotel-Dieu is a teaching hospital, and when the doctor appeared with six students, she blew a kiss to each one. Just before she died, she told Ms. Normandin that she was thankful for her life and for dance. “Everything is beautiful,” she said.


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