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National Ballet of Canada

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Title: National Ballet of Canada  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Chan-hon Goh, Svetlana Lunkina, Canada's National Ballet School, Evan McKie, Vanessa Harwood
Collection: 1951 Establishments in Ontario, National Ballet of Canada, Performing Groups Established in 1951
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

National Ballet of Canada

National Ballet of Canada
General information
Name National Ballet of Canada
Year founded 1951
Founders Celia Franca
Principal venue Four Seasons Centre
Artistic staff
Artistic Director
Music Director David Briskin
Associated schools The National Ballet School of Canada
  • Principal Dancer
  • Principal Character Artist
  • First Soloist
  • Second Soloist
  • Corps de Ballet
  • Apprentice

The National Ballet of Canada is Canada's largest ballet troupe. It was founded by Celia Franca in 1951 and is based in Toronto, Ontario. Based upon the unity of Canadian trained dancers in the tradition and style of England's Royal Ballet, The National is regarded as the premier classical ballet company in Canada.


  • Creation of The National Ballet of Canada 1
  • Development 2
  • The National Ballet School of Canada 3
  • International Acclaim 4
  • Dancers 5
    • Principal Dancers 5.1
    • Principal Character Artists 5.2
    • Prominent National Ballet dancers 5.3
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Creation of The National Ballet of Canada

In 1951, the two major ballet companies in Canada were the

  • The National Ballet of Canada
  • The National's Rex Harrington
  • The National's Karen Kain
  • The National Ballet School of Canada
  • Archival footage of National Ballet of Canada performing Lilac Garden in 1953 at Jacob's Pillow

External links

  1. ^ a b c d e Crabb, Michael; Cornell, Katherine (2015-03-04). "National Ballet of Canada". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Canada. Retrieved 2015-05-23. 
  2. ^ a b James Neufeld (1996). Power to Rise: The Story of National Ballet of Canada. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Canada.  
  3. ^ "Celia Franca". Telegraph. 2007-02-21. Retrieved 2007-07-20. 
  4. ^ a b The National Ballet of Canada Website accessed 22 March 2007
  5. ^ Crabb, Michael; Cornell, Katherine (2015-03-04). "Reid Bryce Anderson". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Canada. Retrieved 2015-05-23. 
  6. ^ Citron, Paula (2013-10-10). "Keeping a legacy alive is a labour of love for Reid Anderson". The Globe and Mail. Philip Crawley. Retrieved 2015-05-20. 
  7. ^ Crabb, Michael. "The National Ballet School of Canada". Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2007-07-20. 
  8. ^ Doob, Penelope Reed; Crabb, Michael. "Kain, Karen". Retrieved 2007-07-20. 
  9. ^ "National Ballet's 'Sleeping Beauty' to awaken in new home". 2006-02-06. Retrieved 2007-07-20. 
  10. ^ Doob, Penelope Reed; Bowring, Amy. "Augustyn, Frank". Retrieved 2007-07-20. 
  11. ^ "Mikhail Baryshnikov archive".  
  12. ^ Natalia Makarova, A Dance Autobiography (Knopf 1979), p. 152.


Prominent National Ballet dancers

Principal Character Artists

Principal Dancers


Rudolf Nureyev danced with the company in 1965 and returned in 1972 to stage his version of The Sleeping Beauty. His work is credited to raising the standards of the company.[1] He was responsible for bringing the Company to Lincoln Center's Metropolitan Opera House in New York City where he showcased the company. The Ballet met with rave reviews and this was a pivotal point in receiving recognition internationally.[9] It was at this time that the careers of Karen Kain and Frank Augustyn, two members of NBC, took off. Kain and Augustyn received the prize for best pas de deux at the International Ballet Competition in Moscow in 1973.[10] The following year, in 1974, while on a tour in Canada, Mikhail Baryshnikov defected and requested political asylum in Toronto and joined the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.[11] His first televised performance after coming out of temporary seclusion in Canada was with the National Ballet of Canada in a version of La Sylphide.[12]

International Acclaim

The National Ballet School was founded in 1959 by Celia Franca and was directed for many years by co-founder Betty Oliphant.[7] The primary goal of the school is to train dancers for the National Ballet of Canada and also for companies across Canada and around the world. Graduates of the School include Frank Augustyn, Neve Campbell, Anne Ditchburn, Rex Harrington, Karen Kain (current Artistic Director of the Company),[8] James Kudelka (former Artistic Director of the Company), Veronica Tennant, Martine Lamy, John Alleyne, Emmanuel Sandhu, and Mavis Staines (Artistic Director and Co-CEO of the School).

The National Ballet School of Canada

In 2011, the company premiered a new version of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet by Alexei Ratmansky.

In 1989 Reid Anderson became the artistic director. He sustained the company though a difficult economic recession[1] by choreographing traditional ballet pieces while also commissioning Canadian and international choreographers to create contemporary piece.[5] In 1995 he left the company citing a frustration of the continued funding cuts from the government.[1][6]

The National Ballet of Canada was the first Canadian company to perform at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London in 1979.

In 1976 Alexander Grant, former Principal Dancer with London's Royal Ballet and Artistic Director of Ballet for All, became the Artistic Director of The National. Under his leadership, The National Ballet added many works by Frederick Ashton to its repertoire. The National has historically been viewed by many as very similar in training, technique, and style to The Royal Ballet of England.

In 1964 the National adopted the 3200-seat O'Keefe Centre (now known as the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts) in Toronto as its home venue. The company moved in 2006 to new facilities at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.


The National Ballet Guild of Canada's first performance was in the Eaton Auditorium on November 12, 1951.[4] The program included Les Sylphides and Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor.[4]

In August 1951 what was then The National Ballet Guild of Canada launched its first cross-country audition tour. By the end of the month, the ballet troupe had chosen 29 dancers [3] and was rehearsing for their first performance in the St. Lawrence Hall. It was during these rehearsals that major decisions for the future of the ballet company happened. For example, Franca chose to perform classic ballets, as she believed this would allow the dancers to be properly judged by the international dance community.[1]

Franca had been to Canada twice in her life, and would not have the same biases a Canadian would in selecting dancers for the company. Furthermore, she had many connections within the dance community and be able to expand the company’s influence on the international stage. However, she was not interested in heading this new company. She had refused similar invitations in George Crum would take on the role of conductor, as well as musical director.


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