Jean-Luc Leguay, alias Heraclius, is a world -renowned Master Illuminator and is one of the very few illuminators since the 8th century still alive to have been taught as an individual disciple to a Master as opposed to collective training in a School of Art. Heraclius remains the sole heir to the Italian tradition.
The early years
Jean-Luc Leguay was born on November 27, 1952 in Cannes (France)
His mother, Jeannine Gelati, better known as Nina Diamar was a dancer and teacher. His father found international fame as a choreographer and created the Ballet National de Marseille and the Theâtre Français de la danse. He was a visionary modernist creating unique works such as “Ecce Homo”, “E=mc2”, “La Fille Mal Gardée” (The Wayward Daughter), and La 3ème Fenêtre (The Third Window).
Jean-Luc was seven when his mother married Bob Leguay and he adopted his step -father’s surname. Bob Leguay, a pioneer of the comic art emerging after WW2, created many cartoon characters such as King le Vengeur (King The Avenger) and Larry Kid. He illustrated some editions of Tim l’Audace (Bold Tim) for the monthly magazine Ardan as well as Kit Carson and Buck John for Artima Press.
In 1970, Jean-Luc Leguay signed his first contract as a professional dancer with the Opéra de Nantes where he joined the corps de ballet of Jean Zierrat. He was 18 when he created his first choreography, “Le Rêve” (The Dream) to Bela Bartok’s music. He went on to choreograph some fifty ballets for leading dancers and international theatre companies including “Trahison”, “Le journal de Claire”, “Vision cosmique”, “Requiem”, “Elta”, “Allegro Appassionato”, “Première Symphonie”, “Le Mythe de Don Juan”, “Ortus”, and Mahler’s “Song of the Earth” …
His choreographies cast leading dancers of the Opéra de Paris, the American Ballet, the London Festival Ballet, Denis Wayne’s New York Ballet, The Ballet Roland Petit, Teatro alla Scala in Milano, Béjard’s ballet, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires…
In 1985, he was appointed Director of dance at the Turin Teatro Regio where he reorganized the company that was to become one of the most prominent in Italy. In Turin he created a new repertoire inviting new choreographers and teachers (Oscar Araiz, Hanz van Manem, Janine Charrat, Joseph Russillo, Alfonso Cata, Fernando Bujones, Gilbert Mayer…) as well as interpreters with fame (Jean Guizerix, Fernando Bujones, Noëlla Pontois, Vladimir Klos, Vladimir Derevianko, Denis Wayne, Elisabeth Terabust, Birgitt Keil, Davide Bombana, Thierry Le Floch, Manuel Legris, Hélène Roux, Jean Charles Gil…) as well as renowned dancers. He set up tours for his company in France, Italy and Germany giving on average 80 performances each season.
While creating ballets and directing at the Theatre in Turin, he became Boris Talline’s artistic consultant and collaborator organizing tours for Ballet companies such as Ballets of Antonio Gades, of Stuttgart, the Big Theater of Geneva, of Hamburg, Basel, Monte Carlo, the Belgrade Opera, and the Harlem Ballet…
And also scheduling performances for the Vienna Opera ballet, the National Ballet of Australia and numerous galas for leading dancers in the most renowned theatres and festivals in Europe(Verona, Venice, Roma, Cagliari, Palermo, Trieste, Bari, Bologna, Turin, Florence, Carcassonne, Arles, Cannes, Barcelona, Madrid, San Sebastien, Seville, Luxembourg, Geneva, Amsterdam, Berlin…).
Jean -Luc Leguay has also choreographed operas such as “Aïda”, “la Traviata” and “The Damnation of Faust” and worked as lighting designer for many international performances.
Jean-Luc Leguay’s initiation into the art of illumination began in 1980 under the tutelage of a Franciscan hermit in Southern Italy. He decided to give up his career as a choreographer to follow the path of the traditional Master Illuminators. He received the teaching of his Master of Light whilst enforcing rigorous self-discipline and menial tasks upon himself. Once accepted as an Illuminator, he was given the name of Heraclius. This name chosen by his Master testifies to his authentic descent.
On his Master’s death in 1990, Jean-Luc Leguay became the sole keeper of the traditional Italian knowledge as well as the first layman of this tradition dating back to the 8th century.
Returning to Paris, he anonymously painted illuminations for a small circle of collectors.
In 1994, after narrowly escaping death in an accident, he spent six months in a re-habilitation center to recover full use of his right arm.
Possessing centuries-old knowledge and skills, he made the decision to pass down the Path of Illumination and publish a book to open the paths to the Image of Light.
In 1997, the illuminations of Perceval le Gallois (Percival the Welshman), written by Chretien De Troyes, are completed and published by Ipomée – Albin Michel publishing house, the book sold out and was reissued the very same year and the following year.
Just before the start of the third millennium, in November 1999, he illuminated Le Livre de l’Apocalypse (The Book of Revelation) published by Ipomée – Albin Michel.
After three years of work when he painted 120 illuminations, La Divine Comédie (“The Divine Comedy”) was published in 2003 by Ipomée Albin Michel.
La Divine Comédie “The Divine Comedy illuminated” was reissued in 2013 by Dervy publishers.
In 2008, Jean-Luc Leguay published Le Rituel de Consecration (The Consecration Ritual), wholly illuminated and calligraphed.
In 2010, Dervy published Mutus Liber initiation (64 illuminated full-pages with a bilingual foreword and notes in French and English).
Simultaneously, his autobiography, Le Maître de Lumière (The Master of Light) was published by Albin Michel in 2004. In this book, he unveils the secret making of an illumination and the close links between geometry and metaphysics. Le Maître de Lumière was reissued in paperback in 2009.