Sunday, 23 March 2014

National Ballet of Canada

Celia Franca. 1921 - 2007, Founder of the National Ballet of
Canada , Source  Wikipedia

This post was inspired by Susan Dalgetty Ezra, Chair of the London Ballet Circle, my fellow blogger Katherine Barber, David Nixon, artistic director of Northern Ballet and, most importantly, Yoko Ichino, ballet mistress of Northern Ballet and associate director of the Northern Ballet Academy whom I admired so much when I saw her teach at the company's open day.

Susan, who has just returned from Toronto, told me about the National Ballet of Canada's production of Cranko's Onegin that she saw on Wednesday night. In my reply I mentioned that company's connections with Northern Ballet through Nixon and Ichino. Susan responded by reminding me that Celia Franca, the founder of the National Ballet came from the UK "not only to start the company but to show Dame Ninette de Valois that she could do it. And she did!" Katherine Barber, whose blog and travel service Tours en l'Air I featured in "Tours en l'air - a Really Useful Resource" 23 Feb 2013 lives in Toronto and her blog contains lots of news about performances and ballet related events in that city . Nixon and Ichino, of course, made their names at the National Ballet before they came to us. I might add for completeness that Nixon was not Northern Ballet's first Canadian connection because its founder, Laverne Meyer, was born in that country.

Having danced at Sadler's Wells last year (see Judith Mackrell "National Ballet of Canada: Romeo and Juliet – review" 18 April 2013 The Guardian) London audiences are familiar with the National Ballet and like them. It is the overseas company that resembles most closely the Royal Ballet with its excellent school and in in its repertoire which has many works by Ashton. Its artistic director Karen Kain danced with the Festival Ballet which is now the English National Ballet.  The National Ballet of Canada was not the first ballet company in Canada. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet was founded over a decade earlier. But it was the first company to recruit from and perform in all parts of that vast country.

In addition to the official links through Nixon and Ichino there seem to be informal links between Leeds and Toronto. In recent visits to Quarry Hill for my over 55 ballet class I have noticed young people with North American accents wearing National Ballet sportswear. It is very good to see them here.

Related Articles

Northern Ballet Open Day 18 Feb 2014
Ballet Education 1 March 2014
Tours en l'air - a Really Useful Resource

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