Where Are They Now?
The following posts are brief biographies of some of our dancer, musician and staff Alumni, Guest Artists and other affiliates. If you are Alumni and would like to share where you are and what you are doing, we would love to post a message here for your fans and fellow Alumni to see. The National Ballet of Canada welcomes postings from all dancer, musician and staff Alumni. Include your name (current name and maiden or stage name, if applicable), the years you performed or worked with the company, what you have done since you left, and what you are doing now. Please keep your message to 25 words or less (we reserve the right to edit submissions for length and clarity). Your email address or website can also be included alongside your posting.
Mail: Attention: Alumni
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The National Ballet of Canada
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David Adams, OC, 1928-2007 (Dancer 1951-1964, Choreographer) was a founding member of The National Ballet of Canada and a legendary part of the Canadian dance community. Adams moved on from the National Ballet for a career in London, gaining a reputation as an international star. He was a talented choreographer and trainer and in 1977 returned to Canada as Ballet Master with Alberta Ballet. He went on to teach at Grant MacEwan College and Ballet North in Edmonton and held the position of Artistic Director of Edmonton Festival Ballet from 1994 to his retirement in 1996. Website: davidadams.org Learn more > Share a memory >
Lawrence Adams, 1936-2003 (Dancer 1955-1960, 1963-1969) joined the National Ballet in 1955, filling the stage with his vibrant personality and athletic enthusiasm. After leaving the National Ballet in 1969 Adams together with his wife Miriam founded 15 Dance Laboratorium, Toronto's first experimental dance venue. Along with many dance heritage initiatives they founded Dance Collection Danse, Canada’s national dance archives and publishing house in 1986. Website: dcd.ca Learn more > Share a memory >
Miriam Adams, CM, (Dancer 1963-1969) Website: dcd.ca Learn more >
Ronald Alexander (Dancer 1973-1976) was formerly Principal and Dean of Admissions of The Nutmeg Conservatory in Torrington, CT. He danced with The National Ballet of Canada and the Frankfurt and Hamburg Ballet Companies from 1973-1981. He has worked as Chair of the Harlem School of the Arts, School Administrator for Dance Theatre of Harlem, and Principal of High School for Contemporary Arts in New York City. Presently he is the CEO and Founder of RKA Consultants in NYC. Ronald received a Masters of Fine Arts from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and a Certificate in Administration from City College of New York. Email address: RKAlex060651@aol.com
John Alleyne (Dancer 1984-1990, Resident Choreographer 1990-1991) Website: johnalleyne.ca
Kay Ambrose, 1914-1971 (Artistic Advisor 1952-1962) was instrumental in the growth of The National Ballet of Canada in its early years. Prior to joining the company, she was the Artistic Director of the Ram Gopal Dance Company in India and wrote and illustrated several books on ballet and classical Indian dance. She supported the development of the National Ballet both administratively and creatively, and designed over 25 productions in the company’s early repertoire. Share a memory >
Sebastian Angermaier (Dancer 1995-1996) continues to dance at Leipziger Ballett and was promoted to soloist during the 2002/03 season. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gary Arbour, 1947-2011 (Musician 1976-2005) Visit Gary Arbour Tribute > Share a memory >
Stephana Arnold (Dancer 1992-1995) went on to dance for seven years with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal as First Soloist, and later as leading dancer with Ballet BC. She now is a sought after guest teacher, guest dancer, actress and Certified Personal Trainer in the Vancouver area.
Johnson Ashley, 1926- 2008 (Staff 1966-1976) contributed to the National Ballet’s successful tours throughout Canada and the United States in the 1960’s and 1970’s. After spending two years in the Canadian army, Ashley received his training at the Guildhall School of Music in England and worked in professional theatre as a stage manager, actor, singer, and director before returning home to Canada. Prior to joining the National Ballet he worked in Canadian theatre and for CBC television, where he returned to have a successful career after his time with the National Ballet.Share a memory >
Judith Aspinall, 1933-2011 (Staff 1989-1996) grew up in St. John's, NL and went on to receive her English Literature Degree from Rosemont College in Pennsylvania. Throughout her professional career she worked with The Reader’s Digest, Time-Life International, Atomic Energy of Canada and University of St. Michael's College. She felt strongly connected to the arts and joined the administrative team of The National Ballet of Canada in 1989. Retiring in 1997, she saw her time at the National Ballet as a highlight in her career. Her generous spirit, her tremendous kindness and her compassionate nature touched all those who knew her. Share a memory >
John Aubrey, 1947-1989 (Dancer 1973-1980) trained as a figure skater before joining the company and won a number of medals representing the United States in international competitions as a member of the United States Figure Skating Team. He later joined The National Ballet of Canada and performed until 1980. After retiring from dance he coached ice skating for a number of years. Share a memory >
Frank Augustyn (Dancer 1970-1989) Learn more > Visit Frank Augustyn Tribute>
Walter Babiak (Conductor 1960-1966) went on to work with Festival Ballet, Vienna State Opera Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet as Music Director. His work included composing, arranging, adjudicating and prose writing. He continues to work within the music community. Email address: email@example.com
Beverly Banfield Lowe, 1941-2011 (Dancer 1956-1960) was a vivacious member of the National Ballet in its formative years. After leaving the company, she received her professional accreditation from the prestigious Cechetti Society and became a prominent figure in the Maine dance community. She taught ballet for Polly Thomas, who founded the original Maine State Ballet, appearing in lead roles with the company. She also taught at The Dorothy Mason School of Dance, which later became Maine State Ballet. Beverly was the original Ballet Mistress and one of the founding board member of Maine State Ballet. She also owned her own ballet schools in Augusta and Hallowell. Share a memory > Read a memory >
Perry Bauman, 1918-2004 (Musician 1960-1966) studied music at the Curtis Institute with Marcel Tabuteau. In 1940 he joined the Toronto Symphony Orchestra as Principal Oboe, a position he held until 1956. He also performed with the CBC Symphony Orchestra from 1952 to 1964 as well as the National Ballet Orchestra as Principal Oboe throughout the 1960’s. He later rejoined the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 1964, serving as Co-principal Oboe until 1971. A highly respected musician and one of the leading oboists in Canada, he performed on radio and television programs in addition to guest performances with other orchestras including the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Cincinnati Orchestra. In addition to his busy performing career, Perry taught oboe at a number of different schools including the Royal Conservatory of Music, the Banff School of Fine Arts, Alberta College and the University of Western Ontario. Learn more > Share a memory >
Kristine Bogyo, 1946-2007 (Musician 1960's) played cello with The National Ballet of Canada and the Canadian Opera Company and was principal cellist with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra. She often appeared as a soloist with many Canadian orchestras. Inspired by her children, she founded the Mooredale Youth Orchestra and Mooredale Concerts in 1986. Alongside her husband Anton Kuerti she also founded the Northstars Concerts and the Festival of the Sound in Parry Sound, ON. Share a memory >
Karen Bowes-Sewell, GCFP (Dancer 1966-1972) is a Senior Scholar in Dance at York University where she taught ballet, conditioning for dancers, and somatic education as an Associate Professor from 1976 to 2010. Karen is a Certified Feldenkrais practitioner and member of the Feldenkrais Guild of North America. She and her husband Richard Sewell live in Grand Bend, ON near Lake Huron. Website: feldenkraisforall.com
David Bourque (Musician 1977-1983) left the National Ballet Orchestra to become a member of the clarinet section of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, a position he still holds today. Website: davidbourque.ca
Allan Brown, 1967-2006 (Staff 1989-1995) worked with the National Ballet in the company’s Box Office and with the Publicity Department in the early 1990’s. His contributions to the company as well as his wit and vitality will be fondly remembered. Share a memory >
Suzanne (Brown) Fitzpatrick (Dancer 1980-1984) continued her performing career playing the lead role of Meg in the Canadian production of Hal Prince's "Phantom of the Opera". In 1996, she opened the Healing Arts Centre, voted "Best Yoga Studio in Toronto" with her husband James, Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine. She teaches Iyengar yoga and offers various healing disciplines including Traditional Chinese Medicine, Naturopathy and Osteopathy at her centre.
Erik Bruhn, 1928-1986 (Guest Artist 1964-1965, Resident Producer 1973-1976, Artistic Director 1983-1986) is remembered as one of the greatest classical dancers of the 20th century. He first performed in 1947 with the Metropolitan Ballet, and went on to perform with England's Royal Ballet, Paris, Rome and Milan Opera Ballets, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Stuttgart Ballet, The Royal Danish Ballet and The Royal Swedish Ballet which he also lead as Artistic Director from 1967 to 1971. In 1964, he began his association with The National Ballet of Canada when he was invited by Celia Franca to stage La Sylphide. He continued to collaborate with the company to produce several major ballets including Swan Lake, Les Sylphides and Coppélia, holding the title of Resident Producer with the company from 1973 to 1976. He became Artistic Director of The National Ballet of Canada in 1983 and remained there until his sudden death in 1986. His impeccable classical style, dramatic intelligence and insightful coaching influenced numerous dancers both in Canada and worldwide.Learn more > Share a memory >
Cassie (Abhinna) Burke (Staff 1982-1990) is now living and working as a Stress Coach and Quantum Biofeedback Specialist in Caledon, ON. She is available for Toronto clinics for dancers interested in the performance and recovery enhancement aspects of biofeedback. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: stressresilience.ca
Gary Burne, 1934-1976? (Dancer 1967-1968) prior to joining The National Ballet of Canada, was a member of The Royal Ballet and Stuttgart Ballet where he created many memorable roles in ballets choreographed by John Cranko in the 1950's and 1960’s. He joined the National Ballet for the 1967/68 season, and then returned to South Africa and danced with the CAPAB Ballet Company (now the Cape Town City Ballet Company). Share a memory >
Natalia Butko, 192-?-1999 (Dancer 1951-1954) first performed with the Boris Volkoff Canadian Ballet in the 1940’s and was one of the bright stars in the early Canadian ballet community. She performed at the Canadian Ballet Festivals between 1948 and 1950, and joined The National Ballet of Canada at its founding in 1951. She left the company in 1954 to pursue her dance career on television. After retiring from the stage she continued to be involved backstage with Wardrobe Department of the Canadian Opera Company, and later as a dresser at the O’Keefe Centre. Share a memory >
Norman Campbell, OC, 1924-2004 (Filmmaker) was an artist of ability, taste, imagination, discrimination, honesty and humour. Campbell produced more ballet productions for television, including the Emmy winning Cinderella (1970) and The Sleeping Beauty (1973), than any other television producer in North America. Originally from Los Angeles, he moved to British Columbia to pursue a career in meteorology and eventually joined the CBC as a radio producer in Vancouver. In 1952 he moved to Toronto to produce some of CBC’s first television broadcasts. He gained a reputation for excellence in adapting ballet for television and directed virtually all of the National Ballet's performances on film including Swan Lake (1961); Giselle (1962); Romeo and Juliet (1965); Swan Lake (1967); Cinderella (1968); Giselle (1976); A Party (1978); La Fille mal gardée (1979); Mad Shadows (1979); Onegin (1986) and The Merry Widow (1987). His goal in presenting a ballet on television was to give each viewer the best seat in the house, recognizing that the best seat in the house was different from moment to moment. For his outstanding work in the field, The National Ballet of Canada presented him with the Celia Award in 1974 for his significant contribution in exposing the National Ballet to the Canadian public. Also a composer, Campbell co-wrote the CBC television musical Anne of Green Gables with Don Harron. The production was adapted for stage at the 1965 Charlottetown Festival and, subsequently, became an annual event – arguably Canada's longest-running musical. Campbell was named a member of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1975 and an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1978. Learn More > Share a Memory >
Cathy (Carr) Penman (Dancer 1956-1964) works part time at Seroyal as a Sales Trainer and Coach. She also volunteers at a Hospice caring for terminally ill patients in the last month of their life. She has taken up piano again and enjoys feeling like she is performing. She lives in King City with Bill, her husband of 39 years, and has 2 daughters and 2 grandchildren. She also has 3 dogs - 2 goldens and 1 chocolate lab.
Assis Carreiro (Staff 1983-1993) is now the director of DanceEast, the National Dance Agency for the East of England and has been in the UK for 10 years. DanceEast recently hosted Rural Retreats: Ballet into the 21st century, which saw the largest ever gathering of ballet directors from around the globe. Email address: email@example.com
Todd Carter (Dancer 1977-1987, Staff 1988-1991) currently works as a Software Designer/Developer with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. He married National Ballet Development Coordinator Cathy Hierlihy in 1993 and together they have two children, ages 9 and 5. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeanette Cassels, ca. 1941-2007 (Dancer 1957-1962) joined The National Ballet of Canada in its early development. Following private lessons with Shelia Ross, her talent and skill won a scholarship to the National Ballet School in Toronto. After one year, she joined the company, starting with an eight month tour throughout cities across Canada, the United States, and Mexico. She performed with the company for five years, leaving the National Ballet in 1962. Share a memory >
Marcel Chojnacki (Dancer 1955-1959) lives in Quebec and although almost 80, he continues to perform with a flamenco group and teaches dance. For several years he has played in the 1st violin section of the Philharmonia Mundi Orchestra in Montreal.
Anthony Clarke, April 10, 1920 – February 26, 2013 (Staff 1962-1968) Born in England, Anthony Clarke was a man of many talents. He gained experience working with both operas and ballets at Covent Garden before coming to Canada. Prior to his time with The National Ballet of Canada, he was a stagehand in the Department of TV Design Studio Operations at the CBC in Toronto. Mr. Clark began working with the National Ballet following a request from Artistic Director and Founder, Celia Franca. At the time, she was in desperate need of an Assistant Stage Manager and felt that Mr. Clark had the exact background she was looking for. He was appointed as Assistant Stage Manager in 1962 and the following year became Stage Manager. In 1968, he was promoted to Executive Stage Manager. In addition to his talents as a Stage Manager, he could also read music. After suffering from Parkinson’s Disease for several years, Mr. Clark passed away in Germany at the age of 93. Share a memory >
Margaret Clemens, ca. 1908 – January 13, 1983 (Staff 1951-1952) Born and raised in Toronto,
Margaret Clemens had an ability to make her piano accompaniments fit the
individual person. She began her studies at the Royal Conservatory of
Music, while also attending Parkdale Collegiate. By 1932, she had become
the Musical Director for the Boris Volkoff School of Ballet, where she stayed
until Volkoff’s death in 1974. In the mid-1930s, and lasting nearly 20
years, she also worked on the Promenade Symphony Orchestra summer concert
series, which brought together members of the Volkoff Ballet and the Toronto
Symphony Orchestra. She was The National Ballet of Canada’s first
pianist, as well as Musical Director for the Canadian Ballet Festivals between
1948 and 1954. Ms. Clemens additionally also worked with the CBCs music department
and as a musician for the Toronto Skating Club Carnivals. For 30 years, she
also held the position of musician and instructor at the University of
Toronto’s School of Physical and Health Education. Share a memory >
Brendan Collins (Dancer 1986-1988 & 1989-1990) went on to dance with Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Basel Ballet in Switzerland, Deutscheoper in Germany, and the Royal Swedish Ballet where he performed as a Principal dancer until 2008. He is presently Ballet Master with the Royal Swedish Ballet and an international guest teacher. When in Cananda, he returns as a guest teacher with the National Ballet.
Katherine Collingwood, 1952-1980 (Dancer 1973-1974) performed with the Niagara Frontier Ballet Company (The American Classical Ballet) prior to joining The National Ballet of Canada for the 1973/74 season. She went on to perform briefly with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, but was forced to retire from dancing in 1975 when she was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Collingwood’s story is chronicled in the book Twilight of a Dancer: The Story of Katherine Collingwood and Her Heroic Battle with ALS by Rosemary DeGraff. Share a memory >
(Judie Colpman) Nora Brown (Dancer 1951-1962) is an accomplished actress/dancer/ choreographer/director who has worked extensively internationally and in New York City. Website: norabrown.net
George Crum, 1926-2007 (Music Director and Conductor 1951-1984) was a multitalented artist who brought strength, growth and laughter to The National Ballet of Canada. During his tenure with the National Ballet Mr. Crum provided orchestrations and arrangements for numerous works in the company's repertoire. He served as Music Director and Conductor of for 33 years, and continued to arrange orchestrations for dance and to appear as a Guest Conductor on numerous occasions following his retirement. In 1984 Mr. Crum was named ‘Music Director Emeritus’ in tribute of his years of service and his many accomplishments. Share a memory >
Ainslie Cyopik (Dancer 1982-1983) moved to Vancouver and danced with Ballet BC for 10 years (1986-1996). She then taught Iynegar yoga for several years and worked in the film industry. After many years of creating her own dancewear, she now has a successful dancewear clothing company, AinslieWear.
Joel Dabin, 1943-198-? (Dancer 1976-1980) was known for his crisp, elegant technique and assured, urban stage presence. He performed as a Soloist with the Robert Joffrey Ballet, Ballets de Marseille, Stuttgart Ballet, and Royal Winnipeg Ballet prior to joining The National Ballet of Canada. He was also a sought after Guest Artist with companies in Italy, Yugoslavia, and the United States. Upon his retirement from the stage Dabin used his experience to teach aspiring artists. Share a memory >
Peter Daminoff (Musician 1960-1961) after touring with the National Ballet Orchestra, went on to join the Toronto Symphony in 1963 and was a member for 35 years. He is now a freelancer and band leader and enjoys a lot of free time in semi-retirement. He still has fond memories of his time with the ballet. Ciao to all.
Robert Davis, ca. 1934-1983 (Dancer 1963-1964) danced with the Washington Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet, and Metropolitan Opera as well as The National Ballet of Canada. Known for his incredibly retentive memory, he had a repertoire of more than 60 ballets as a dancer and choreographer. Sharing his knowledge with others, he became the Artist Director for the Flint Ballet Theatre and Ballet Master of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School before passing away. Share a memory >
Donald Dawson, 1961-2009 (Dancer 1979-1988, Choreographer) began his studies with Ballet Russes star Alexandra Baldina and went on to graduate from the School of American Ballet. In 1979 he joined the National Ballet and was promoted to Soloist in 1986. Dawson's eclectic dance talents also expanded into choreography and he regularly contributed pieces to the company’s Choreographic Workshops. His work Inner Drop entered the National Ballet’s repertoire in 1986. After leaving the company he went on to become a long-time member of Ballet Jörgen. Share a memory >
Kristen Dennis (Dancer 1994-1998) went on to dance with Alberta Ballet and Ballet BC, then transitioned to teaching dance in 2003. She and husband Craig Glen welcomed son, Mason Elliott Glen into the world in September 2005. Currently Kristen is the Artistic Director of RNB Dance & Theatre Arts in North Vancouver, BC.
Robert Desrosiers (Dancer 1971-1972, Choreographer) Learn more >
Michael Downing (Dancer 1988-1994) is currently living in Los Angeles, CA and working as director/filmmaker. He attended the American Film Institute on scholarship and has since been nominated for a Genie Award for Best Live Action Film. Email address: email@example.com
André Dufresne, 1927-2012 (Dancer 1951-1955, Staff 1955-1963) studied dance with Seda Zare and Gerald Crevier in Montreal. In his early performing days, he danced with Ballet Quebec, in the Canadian Ballet Festival and in the Montreal Festivals before joining The National Ballet of Canada as a Charter Member in 1951. Dufresne spent several seasons as a dancer and was particularly known for his character roles such as Dr. Coppélius in Coppélia. After retiring from the stage he became a Stage Manager and later Production Administrator before leaving the company in 1963. He went on to became a story editor, researcher and journalist with the CBC/Radio-Canada. Share a memory >
Dominique Dumais (Dancer 1987-1998) Learn more >
Sandy Evan-Jones (Staff 1974-1981) is a United Church of Canada minister for three rural congregations north of Goderich and is working toward a PhD in New Testament Studies. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michel Faigaux (Dancer 1995-1998) continued his dance career with Alberta Ballet, and as a guest artist with many international companies. He currently guest teaches for The National Ballet of Canada and Dance Teq, and runs a successful renovation company, Red White Reno. He is now married, and is expecting his first baby, due in 2011. Email address: email@example.com
Dewi Fairclough (Dancer 1985-1987) is presently a Sales Representative with Bosley Real Estate after being Cabin Crew Manager with British Mediterranean Airways. After performing with the National Ballet he was in Cats at Massey Hall and the original production of Phantom of the Opera, and also assisted choreographer Gillian Lynne on the Pickwick National Tour in the United Kingdom.
Linda Fletcher (Dancer 1965-1972) currently lives in Northeast Ohio. She works as the Resource Development Manager for the Center for Families and Children and as a Wine Consultant for West Point Market. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Albert Forister, 1955-199-? (Dancer 1975-1983) was recommended ballet classes as a therapeutic treatment for frailty of his lungs. Falling in love with the art, he went on to become a dancer of the Harkness Ballet and Joffrey II before joining The National Ballet of Canada. Known for his well defined and clean movements, he made frequent guest appearances in the United States. During his free time, he pursued a second career in pen and ink drawings by illustrating the book Dance as dance: selected reviews and essays by Graham Jackson. Following his time in Toronto, he shared his poetic, refined, and subtle virtuosity with Montreal as a member of Les Grands Ballet Canadiens. Share a memory >
Walter Foster, 1923-2003 (Dancer 1951-1953) served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War. He first studied dance with Mildred Wickson and danced with the Mildred Wickson Ballet Company from 1949 to 1951. During this time he also danced with the Boris Volkoff Ballet Company and New Dance Theatre before joining The National Ballet of Canada in 1951 as a Charter Member. He left the company in 1953 and joined the Janet Baldwin Ballet Company. After retiring from the stage in 1959, he worked at the CBC, serving in many roles including Classical Music Programming, Announcer, and Benefits Counsellor. Share a memory >
Jennifer Fournier (Dancer 1986-2008) Visit Jennifer Fournier Tribute >
Sandra Francis (Dancer 1952-1954) studied with Betty Oliphant and performed with the Betty Oliphant Dancers Company prior to joining the National Ballet. She also performed on CBC television in Toronto, the Promenade Symphony Concerts, pantomimes, and at the CNE Grandstand Shows. She joined the company in 1952, where she performed for two seasons. Her performances in Coppélia in the early days of the National Ballet were especially memorable. Share a memory >
Lorna Geddes (Dancer and Ballet Mistress 1959-Present). Visit Lorna Geddes Tribute>
Glenn Gibson (Dancer 1952-1957) studied ballet with Louise
Goldsmith and performed as a Soloist with the National Ballet from 1952 to
1957. He is remembered well for his performances in Les Rendez-vous, Coppélia,
Dark Elegies and Jeune Pas de Deux. Share a memory >
Glenn Gilmour, 1938-2011 (Dancer 1958-1964, 1965-1970) began ballet lessons at the Renee Russell School of Dance and travelled to Toronto in 1958 to train with Betty Oliphant and Celia Franca. Later that same year he joined The National Ballet of Canada. In 1964 he was promoted to Principal Dancer, and shortly after toured around England with Ballet Rambert before returning to the National Ballet for the beginning of the 1965 season. Gilmour retired as a dancer from the company in 1970 and trained with Canada’s National Ballet School to become a teacher. He became a Fellow and Examiner for the Imperial Cecchetti Society of Teachers of Dance and taught at a number of professional dance schools in Canada and Europe, including the Royal Swedish Ballet School, the Royal Danish Ballet School and Company and the Edmonton School of Ballet. Gilmour is remembered as a master teacher who inspired numerous young dancers at Canada's National Ballet School, as well as students in his freelance work in Toronto, Pickering and Vancouver. Share a memory >
Lois Gochnauer (Dancer 1964-1966) received her Juris Doctor and Master in International and Comparative Law. A member of the New York Bar, she practiced law in Washington, DC before joining the U.S. Foreign Service. She served as a diplomat in the Dominican Republic, Hong Kong and Toronto. She also served as Senior Advisor on International Women’s Issues for the U.S. State Department and the Clinton White House. She is a writer and public speaker on women’s issues, particularly violence against women. She retired from the Foreign Service in 2003 and continues to write and lecture, and has returned to performing in the theatre. She divides her time between New York and Florida.
Jacques Gorrissen, 1945-2012 (Dancer 1968-1998) Visit Jacques Gorrissen Tribute > Share a memory >
Uko Gorter (Dancer 1987-1989) married Susan Janke in Toronto in 1988. They now live in Kirkland, WA (near Seattle). He is currently a free-lance illustrator and still performs character roles for the Pacific Northwest Ballet. He is also a board member of the American Cetacean Society. Susan is an interior decorator and teaches at Pacific Northwest Ballet. Look them up when you're in the Seattle area. Email address: email@example.com Website: ukogorter.com
John Goss, 1942-1986 (Musician and Associate Conductor 1970-1986) studied piano and organ in Toronto and England, becoming an Associate of the Royal Canadian College of Organists in 1962. His association with The National Ballet of Canada began when he became a rehearsal pianist in 1968, becoming Assistant Conductor in 1970. At the time of his death in 1986 he was Associate Conductor for the company. Tragically, John was killed in a car accident while on vacation in Barbados in 1986. Following his death The John Goss Organ Scholarship Fund was established in his memory through The Royal Canadian College of Organists. Share a memory >
Jury Gotshalks, 1924-1976 (Dancer 1951-1952, 1953-1955) trained in Latvia and was a member of the Latvian National Ballet. During World War II, he was interned in a forced labour camp in Germany. Following the war he rejoined the Latvian Ballet Company, then in exile, and toured the leading opera houses of Germany. In 1946, he and his wife, Irene Apinée were invited by the Halifax Conservatory of Music to found a classical ballet school, and so came to Canada. Subsequently, they formed a company in Halifax and toured the Maritimes and other Canadian regions with great success. In 1951, Jury and Irene were invited by Celia Franca to become Charter Members of The National Ballet of Canada, which they accepted in addition to performing with their company in Halifax. As the National Ballet’s seasons lengthened they dissolved Gotshalks Halifax Ballet to perform solely with the National Ballet. In 1955 Jury and Irene left the company to dance and choreograph for television and stage. In 1969 Jury became an Associate Professor in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Dance department. Share a memory >
Alexander Grant, 1925-2011 (Artistic Director 1976-1983) Visit Alexander Grant Tribute > Share a memory >
Sarah Green (Dancer 1986-1995) received her degree from Columbia University after leaving the National Ballet. She married Mark Motyl, a bond salesman, and together have two sons and daughter. E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
David Haber, 1927-2008 (Staff 1951-1956, Artistic Director 1973-1975) began his long association with the arts in 1948 with the Canadian Repertory Theatre Company in Ottawa before joining the National Ballet in 1951 as its first Stage Manager. Haber managed the first Canadian and U.S. tours as well as the company’s European debut before accepting a position with the William Morris Agency in New York where his clients included Marlene Dietrich and Mahalia Jackson. He was asked to produce an international arts festival for Expo 67 in Montreal following which he became programming director of the National Arts Centre in Ottawa where he founded the touring office, a program which eventually became part of the Canada Council for the Arts. In 1973 he was appointed Co-Artistic Director of The National Ballet of Canada and became Artistic Director the following year. He then returned to managing individual artists under the name Haber Artists Management Inc., which handled such Canadian acts as the Famous People Players and dancers such as Karen Kain, Frank Augustyn and Erik Bruhn. Haber and his partner had a long association with the Houston Ballet and established a scholarship fund to assist young men studying ballet and in his later years Haber became a dedicated fundraiser for HIV/Aids research and the Houston Ballet School. Passionate about the arts and generous with his attention to young artists, Haber is considered a key figure in the establishment of the cultural scene in Canada. Many of those he mentored went on to careers as successful artistic managers. Share a memory >
Paul Hangauer, 1935-2002 (Dancer 1962-1963) trained in New York and Germany, performing with ballet companies in Europe and the US. He also performed in a number of musical comedies and on television. After leaving the company he became a dance teacher and choreographer in Buffalo, NY, becoming director of Buffalo Dance Theatre and Buffalo Ballet Arts Studio by the 1970’s. He retired from the post of Chairman of the Performing Arts department of the Buffalo Seminary shortly before his death. Share a memory >
Cathy (Hierlihy) Carter (Staff 1989-1991) married former National Ballet Dancer and Scheduling Coordinator Todd Carter in 1993 and together they have two children, ages 9 and 5.
Warren Hudson, 1963-2012 (Staff 1990's) is fondly remembered as part of the crew behind the scenes of National Ballet performances. Prior to his backstage life, he spent nine seasons on the CFL with the Argos and Winnipeg Blue Bombers, was named the top Canadian in the 1990 Grey Cup and a West Division all-star in 1990 and 1992. He will be remembered as a true warrior on and off the field yet always a gentle giant, a mentor and teammate, a brother in I.A.T.S.E. - Local 58, a lifelong friend to so many. Share a memory >
Fergus Hunter, 193-?-2002 (Dancer 1951-1954) was a founding member of The National Ballet of Canada. He left the company in 1954 and danced in many CBC television shows, later becoming the owner/manager of Variety Arts and Showcase Studios in Manhattan, NY. Share a memory >
Margaret Illmann (Dancer 1989-1996) is now studying physiotherapy in West Australia and misses her 7 years with the National Ballet. Hello to my friends in Canada! Website: margaretillmann.com.au Visit Margaret Illmann Tribute >
Paul Jago (Dancer 1975-1979) trained with Lois Smith and at Canada’s National Ballet School. Prior to joining the National Ballet he danced in musicals, television shows, and with the Washington Ballet and the Eglevsky Ballet Company. He joined the company in 1975 as a member of the Corps de Ballet. He left the company in 1979 to pursue a university education with the intention of becoming a Chiropractor. Share a memory >
Jerry Johnson, 1949-2005 (Musician 1995-2004) served in the military jazz band “The Airmen of Note” during the Vietnam War. He emigrated to Canada to study with philosopher Kenneth G. Mills and became a regular member of Howard Cable’s band in the Imperial Room of the Royal York Hotel, Nimmons ‘N’ Nine Plus Six and a first call musician in the recording and theatre industry. He joined the National Ballet Orchestra in 1995, leaving in 2004 to fight an extended battle with cancer. Share a memory >
Elizabeth Keeble, 1946-2012 (Dancer 1964-1968) loved dance from childhood and enjoyed a rewarding career as both dancer and teacher. After becoming one of the first graduates of Canada's National Ballet School, she went on to perform with The National Ballet of Canada and the Royal Swedish Ballet. Upon retiring from the stage, she taught many talented students back at Canada's National Ballet School and also in Australia. Share a memory >
Vera Keiss (Dancer 1951-1952) began her dance training at the age of eight at the Latvian National Opera Ballet under Mme. Alexandra Feodorova-Fokina, a former ballerina at the Marynsky Theatre in St. Petersburg and former classmate of Anna Pavlova. She graduated from the Latvian National Opera Ballet in 1941. She then went on to become a First Soloist with the Latvian State Opera Second Company. She also performed with the Liepaja Opera Ballet before joining The National Ballet of Canada in 1951 as a Charter Member. Keiss danced with the company for two seasons during which time she also formed her own ballet school, the “East York School of Ballet.” Share a memory >
Christopher Kiss (Dancer 1991-1997) continued to teach company class and perform as Guest Artist until 2004. Also teaching at the National Ballet School, it was time to explore the world as an entertainer on the world's best Cruise Line. He is now an award-winning multimedia designer and web professional, and currently lives and works in Hollywood as Art & Concept Director for a very successful internet company.
Tiffany Knight (Dancer 1995-2003) has started her own floral design business, Frolic, specializing in unique arrangements and exotic bouquets. She can also be seen in various commercials worldwide and both American and Canadian television series. Email address: email@example.com
Earl Kraul, 1929-1999 (Dancer 1951-1970) was a founding member of The National Ballet of Canada, remaining with the company until his retirement in 1970. During his performing years he was also a Guest Artist with a number of companies in Canada and abroad. Following his retirement from the stage, he taught at the National Ballet School, York University and the Banff Centre and was Ballet Master of the Dance Company of Ontario from 1979 to 1981. In 1981 he moved to Vancouver to become Co-Director of the Dianne Miller Dance Gallery and also taught at Simon Fraser University. Share a memory >
Bill Kuinka, 1916-2008 (Musician) served in an army show unit during the Second World War. Afterwards he studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music, the Advanced School of Contemporary Music in Toronto and in New York. He taught himself to play the mandolin and guitar and also played the bass in several Canadian orchestras including the CBC Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra and The National Ballet of Canada Orchestra however his specialty was the mandolin and he played mandolin solos with the Ivan Romanoff orchestra in performances and on recordings. He taught at various locations in the Toronto area and Wilfred Laurier University. His daughter Valerie plays the viola and is currently a member of The National Ballet of Canada Orchestra. Share a memory >
Jennifer Kropac (Dancer 1991-1998) went on to dance with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (1999-2003). After retiring from the stage she received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Waterloo. Currently she is pursuing a Master's in Child Study and Education from the University of Toronto. Jennifer is married to former National Ballet dancer Kevin Law. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Martine Lamy (Dancer 1983-2005) Visit Martine Lamy Tribute >
Serge Lavoie, 1963-2004 (Dancer 1982-1997) began his association with the National Ballet when he partnered Martine Lamy in the 4th International Ballet Competition in Moscow in 1981 and won first prize for best partnership in the Junior Division. He joined the National Ballet of Canada in 1982 and during his tenure partnered many of the company’s ballerinas, including Karen Kain and Martine Lamy in roles such as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, Albrecht in Giselle and the Prince in The SleepingBeauty, The Nutcracker and Swan Lake. Mr. Lavoie was in demand as an international guest artist, performing at La Scala, Milan, the Spoleto Festival, London Festival Ballet, Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. He left the company in 1996 to perform with Columbia City Ballet in Columbia, South Carolina although he continued to make guest appearances with the National Ballet for a few years. Mr. Lavoie had been on staff as Ballet Master with Columbia City Ballet since 1997 and shortly before his death had given up performing to focus solely on that position. Share a memory >
Kevin Law (Dancer 1995-2001) received his degree in Systems Design Engineering from the University of Waterloo in 2006. He is currently an Institutional Equity Trader in Toronto. Kevin is married to former National Ballet dancer Jennifer Kropac. Email address: email@example.com
Stephen Legate, DC, (Dancer 1986-1991) studied ballet first at Marylynn's Ballet Arts in Riverside, CA, and later at Canada's National Ballet School. He joined The National Ballet of Canada in 1986 and was the winner of the Second International Competition for the Erik Bruhn Prize in 1989. Legate joined San Francisco Ballet in 1991 where he performed until his retirement in 2006. Today he is a licensed Chiropractor serving the Salem and Boston community specializing in the treatment of professional dancers. He lives in Marblehead, MA with his wife Evelyn Cisneros-Legate and two children Ethan and Sophia. Learn More >
Angela Leigh, 1927-2004 (Dancer 1951-1966) began her training with the Royal Ballet and Sadler’s Wells ballet school in London, England before coming to Canada. She became a founding member and Principal Dancer with the National Ballet of Canada, where she danced most of the leading roles in the classical and modern repertoires from 1951 to 1966. Angela also taught at the National Ballet and Canada’s National Ballet School, and as an Assistant Professor of Dance at York University. Her choreography credits include works for the National Ballet School, York University, The Canadian Opera Company, and Ontario Ballet Theatre. In later years Angela was a driving force behind starting Ballet Victoria, contributing as an artistic advisor, a board member and a coach for the dancers. In addition to her work with Ballet Victoria Angela also owned and operated Mantra Interior Design and worked on many residential and commercial projects. Share a memory >
Maria Lewis, 1939-2004 (Dancer 1960-1963) trained with Betty Oliphant, Founder of Canada’s National Ballet School, before joining the National Ballet of Canada in 1960. She danced with the company until 1963, later joining Les Grands Ballets Canadiens where she stayed until her retirement from the stage in 1967. In 1969 she returned to her native Vancouver to form the Maria Lewis Ballet Ensemble until she took over Ballet Horizons, establishing a new company named Pacific Theatre Ballet. She retired as director in 1980, continuing to teach at the company’s school. In 1985 Pacific Ballet Theatre became Ballet BC. Maria continued to teach and was named a Fellow of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing in 1997. Share a memory >
Kenneth Lipitz (Dancer 1971-1973) is currently a full-time Associate Professor of Dance at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, part of the Five College Dance Department which includes Smith, Mt Holyoke, Hampshire and Amherst Colleges. He, and his wife (of 30 years), Shelley Ziebel, own and direct the New England Dance Conservatory, a private school of dance near Springfield, MA. Their two children, Isadora (21), a dance major at the University, and Hayden (14) an aspiring NBA star, live in the small New England town of East Longmeadow, MA. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ana Maria Lucaciu (Dancer 1995-1997) after leaving the National Ballet moved to Copenhagen to dance with the Royal Danish Ballet. After five years in Denmark, she danced with the Augsburg Ballet in Germany for two years and the Contemporary Portuguese Dance Company in Lisbon for another two. For the past five years she has been dancing with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, in New York city. She is currently studying towards her BA in dance. Hello to everyone at NBoC!
Jerome MacCarthy, 1952-1988 (Dancer 1972-1973) trained at the Joffrey Ballet School and was a member of The National Ballet of Canada in its 1972/73 season. He also performed with the Joffrey II company and the Zurich Ballet before joining Stuttgart Ballet in 1982. In 1986 he joined the faculty of Stuttgart Ballet School. Share a memory >
Brian Macdonald (Dancer 1951-1953) Learn more >
Cynthia MacLennon, 1933-2009 (Staff 1956-1975) graduated from the MacDonald Institute in Guelph and launched her career as one of the first costume cutters with The National Ballet of Canada. During her nearly 20 year tenure with the National Ballet she was much beloved and dressed Founding Artistic Directory Celia Franca. She later worked for the Stratford Festival until her retirement in 1998. Other career highlights included working with Sir Laurence Olivier at the Chichester Festival in England, in Australia on productions for the new Sydney Opera House and with Robin Phillips at the Grand Theatre in London, ON. Learn more > Share a memory >
George MacPherson, ca. 1931-2009 (Staff 1965-1969) was an influential figure in the theatre known for managing artists such as Harry Belafonte and Victor Borge and establishing Hamilton Place and Roy Thomson Hall. He came to Canada to work for The National Ballet of Canada as a Publicity Director after pursuing a career in the performing arts in Los Angeles. He originally studied to become a veterinarian but his career path was influenced when he was introduced to show business while taking care of lions and tigers at the Ringling Brothers circus where he also did promotional work. He eventually returned to the United States where his long and varied career continued as a General Manager of American Theatre Productions producing top shows such as The Secret Garden, Guys and Dolls, The Who’s Tommy, and Angels in America. Afterwards, he transformed the Broadway touring industry into today’s model of first-rate performances with high production values. Retiring to South Carolina, he remained President and Chief Executive of Masque Sound, a company that provides high-tech sound systems to touring and sporting events. He is remembered for his significant contributions in the performance world of North America. Share a memory >
Caitlan Maggs (Dancer 1976-1980) went on to perform with Desrosiers Dance Theatre from 1982 to 1988. From 1989 to 1998 she taught at l’Ecole Superieure de Danse du Quebec in Montreal. In 1999 she became Artistic Coach at Cirque du Soleil followed by Head of Artistic Training in 2005. She lives in Montreal with her husband and 3 sons and would love to hear from you. Email address: email@example.com
William Marrié, 1968-2002 (Dancer 1990-2002) trained at L'Ecole Superieure de Dance du Quebec and the Banff School of Performing Arts, joining The National Ballet of Canada in 1990. He was promoted to Principal Dancer in 2001. In addition to dancing many of the principal roles in the company's repertoire he was a Guest Artist with American Ballet Theatre. In 2002 he left the company to perform in MOVIN' OUT, a Twyla Tharp-Billy Joel musical in New York. He was one of Canada’s rising stars, a classical dancer of exceptional dramatic power who is remembered for his dynamic stage presence. Share a memory >
Sophie Martin, 1929-2012 (Staff ca. 1959-ca. 1979) was an active member of the Canadian theatre community, clothing artists from most of the large performing institutions including Stratford Shakespeare Festival, the Shaw Festival Theatre and The National Ballet of Canada. After moving to Canada from Austria, she sewed and made hats before graduating to cutting, using a designer's sketch to cut out the material that will be made into costumes. She is remembered for her creation of the Snowmen and Gingerbread Men from Celia Franca‘s The Nutcracker, the Cockerel and Hens from La Fille mal gardée and the large hats from The Merry Widow. Share a memory >
Howard Meadows, 1931-1994 (Dancer 1951-1964, Staff 1972-1994) trained in Montreal with Gérald Crevier and joined The National Ballet of Canada as a Charter Member in 1951 where he remained until 1964 when he returned to Montreal to work in the fashion industry and teach ballet. In 1972, he returned to the National Ballet as Wardrobe Assistant and in 1980 he was promoted to Wardrobe Master, a post which he held until his death in 1994. The National Ballet’s Costume Archive is named in his honour. Share a memory >
Graeme Mears, 1967-1998 (Dancer 1990-1995) began his ballet training in Victoria, BC before entering Canada’s National Ballet School. In 1987, Graeme joined Ballet British Columbia in 1987 before becoming a Second Soloist with the National Ballet in 1990. In 1995 he left the company and danced with The Hamburg Ballet and Ballet de l’Opera National de Lyons in France. Graeme was particularly admired for his work in contemporary choreography and appeared in works by internationally known choreographers such as John Alleyne, James Kudelka and John Neumeier. Share a memory >
Kenneth Melville (Dancer 1960-1963) trained at Sadler’s Wells Ballet School and entered the Sadler’s Wells company where he quickly became a leading soloist, dancing many lead roles before his departure in 1954. Subsequently he toured with a theatre company and made numerous television appearances before joining London’s Festival Ballet. In 1957 he performed with Borovansky Ballet Company on an Australia tour before returning as a Guest Artist with the London Festival Ballet. In 1960 he joined The National Ballet of Canada, remaining with the company until 1963.He later performed character roles with the Memphis Ballet and taught dance at the Indiana University School of Music. Share a memory >
Fred Mills, 1933-2009 (Musician 1968-1972) a 1992 Grammy nominee, studied at the Juilliard School in New York and was a founding member of the American Symphony Orchestra in 1961. He also played in a number of other orchestras including Principal Trumpet with the New York City Opera Orchestra. In 1968 he joined The National Ballet of Canada Orchestra and was appointed Solo Trumpet with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa. He left the National Ballet in 1972 when he became a member of the Canadian Brass. Through his superb musicality and originality he helped lend legitimacy to the art form of the brass quintet with Canadian Brass until he left the group to join the University of Georgia's music department in 1996. Share a memory >
Gregory Mitchell, 1951-2004 (Dancer 1972-1973) studied at the Juilliard School and was trained by some notable dancers including Antony Tudor. He was a member of The National Ballet of Canada in 1972 and 1973 before joining the Eliot Field Ballet in 1976. He later earned a reputation for his work on Broadway and in television and films. His credits include Chicago, Song and Dance and Merlin. Mitchell was well-known for the strong masculine presence he brought to the stage. Share a memory >
Ray Moller (Dancer 1953-1958) studied dance under Kay Armstrong at the BC School of Dance before joining the National Ballet in 1953. He also studied Spanish dancing and appeared with Antonio Triana and the Cansinos Company. Moller had an affinity for Spanish-style dancing demonstrated through La Llamada which he choreographed for the National Ballet during the 1956/57 season. He was also responsible for the choreography of the Spanish Dances presented in Swan Lake Act II and The Nutcracker Act IV as presented by the National Ballet in the 1950's. Share a memory >
Matjash Mrozewski (Dancer 1994-1997 & 1999-2001, Choreographer) continues to perform as a guest artist and has become a leading young choreographer internationally creating works for numerous companies including The Royal Ballet, The Australian Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. The National Ballet of Canada holds six of Mrozewski's productions in their repertoire including the Dora Nominated A Delicate Battle which was adapted for a film of the same name in 2004. Mrozewski is the winner of the first Choreographic Prize at the 2009 Erik Bruhn Competition and was Distinguished Guest Artist in Residence at Ryerson University, Dance Department in 2009. Website: matjash.com
Alastair Munro, 1941-1985 (Dancer 1964-1971) was born in Ottawa where he began his dance training before coming to Canada’s National Ballet School. In addition to dance, Munro was also a figure skater and in 1958 he won the Canadian Figure Skating Pairs Championship. In 1964 he joined The National Ballet of Canada as a member of the Corps de Ballet and in 1966 was a competitor at the Varna International Ballet Competition. Munro left the National Ballet in 1971 and went on to become a Principal Dancer with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet from 1973-1978, following which he was the Acting Company Manager of the Washington Ballet and School. In 1983 he returned to his native Ottawa where he taught dance until his death. Share a memory >
Thomas Nicholson (Dancer 1973-1977) married Lisa Slagle of the Joffrey Ballet in 1993, and together they are the owners of Ballet Academy of Texas and Directors of Ballet Ensemble of Texas in Coppell, a Dallas area suburb. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charlotte (Holmes) Norcop, 1933-2008 (Staff 1960-1964) attended University College at the University of Toronto where she studied Literature and English. In the 1950’s she worked in the properties department at the Stratford Festival before she became the Publicity Assistant and Assistant to the General Manager with The National Ballet of Canada. She was later with the Ontario Arts Council from 1965 to 1982, first as Theatre and Dance Officer and then Director of Operations. Norcop was also an active volunteer with the National Ballet and served on the board of Canada’s National Ballet School Foundation and Dance Collection Danse. She will be remembered by many for her passionate commitment to the arts in Canada. Share a memory >
Rudolf Nureyev, 1938-1993 (Guest Artist, Choreographer) Learn more > Explore exhibition Rudolf Nureyev: A Life in Dance > Rudolf Nureyev Foundation > Share a memory >
Betty Oliphant, CC, OOnt, 1918-2004 (Ballet Mistress, Artistic Associate and Associate Artistic Director 1951-1975) trained in England and after moving to Canada became Ballet Mistress at the National Ballet when it was founded in 1951. In 1959 she co-founded Canada’s National Ballet School becoming its first Principal and Artistic Director, and remaining there until she retired in 1989. In addition she was Associate Artistic Director of The National Ballet of Canada from 1969 to 1975. In 1979, on he occasion of the School's 20th Anniversary, she was named Honourary Founder in Perpetuity of the National Ballet School. During her period at the National Ballet School she trained most of Canada's leading dancers, many of whom joined The National Ballet of Canada or went on to become members of major ballet companies worldwide. Learn more > Share a memory >
Jennifer Orr, 1956-1983 (Dancer 1974-1977) entered Canada’s National Ballet School at the age of 8 and studied there for 8 years. While at the school she appeared in a 1967 National Ballet performance of Cinderella before joining the company in 1974 as a member of the Corps de Ballet. She remained with the company until 1977 and later established and became Director of Edmonton’s Summerfest. Share a memory >
Gregory Osborne, 1954-1994 (Dancer 1983-1989, 1991-1992) trained in the United States, joining the Ballet Repertory Company in 1974, and, in 1975 American Ballet Theatre. He remained with them until 1983 when he joined The National Ballet of Canada. During his years with the company he danced most of the major roles in its repertoire as well as appearing as a Guest Artist with many companies throughout the world. After leaving The National Ballet of Canada in 1989 to pursue a career as an independent dancer, he returned often as Guest Artist in appearing in Don Quixote, Etudes and Sphinx and Swan Lake. Share a memory >
Sylvia Palmer (Dancer 1960-1967) obtained her M.F.A. degree and is now director of Southern California Youth Ballet and Black Mountain Dance Centre in San Diego, CA. She teaches for the California State Summer School of the Arts during the summers, and teaches Benesh Notation in seminars for the RAD and Cecchetti organizations. Email address: email@example.com
James Pape (Brother Luke), 1910-2003 (Set and Costume Designer) was a student at the Ontario College of Art where he learned how to paint. Throughout the 1930’s he supported himself as a bookkeeper taking dance classes in the evening with Boris Volkoff from 1936 to 1942 and represented Canada at the International Tanzweltspiele at the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics. He joined the Canadian Army Medical Corps during the Second World War following which he returned to Toronto and became an interior designer. In 1951 he came to The National Ballet of Canada to design the costumes for the company’s first productions of Coppélia and Les Sylphides. In 1952 he joined the Mount Saviour Monestery in New York State. Share a memory >
Constantin Patsalas, 1943-1990 (Dancer 1972-1979, Resident Choreographer 1980-1986) trained in Germany at the Folkwang Hochschule and spent three years with the Deutsche Opera Am Rhein before joining The National Ballet of Canada in 1972 as a Soloist and Choreographer. In 1979 he won the Boston Ballet's Choreographic Showcase prize for his work Concerto for the Elements: Piano Concerto which showcased his imaginative choreography. He was appointed Company Choreographer in 1980 and Resident Choreographer in 1982, remaining with the company until 1986. During his time with The National Ballet of Canada he created a number of works for the company, including Inventions, Black Angels, The Rite of Spring, Angali, Nataraja, Canciones, l’Ile Inconnue, Oiseaux Exotiques, Concerto for the Elements: Piano Concerto and Lost in Twilight. Share a memory >
Greg Patterson (Staff 1980-1990) is now Director of Development for WaterTower Theatre in Texas. He has worked for American Ballet Theater, Orange County Performing Arts Center, Los Angeles Opera and Atlanta Opera as Director of Marketing and/or Development. He and his partner Gordon live on a ranch in Terrell, TX and raise championship Dressage and Hunter Jumpers. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
David Peden (Dancer 1987-1990) left the National Ballet and danced with Pacific Northwest Ballet and English National Ballet. He subsequently received a diploma in teaching at The Royal Academy of Dance. He has been the Ballet master for Singapore Dance Theatre, Ankara State Ballet, Turkey and Freelance International Teaching, and is currently a teacher at The Royal Ballet Upper School, Covent Garden, London. Email address: email@example.com
Dieter Penzhorn, 1935 – 1996 (Staff 1966 – 1996) was born in Nordhausen, Germany in 1933 and moved to Canada in 1953. He had learned to use his hands working as a child in Germany in the family upholstery business. His aunt was the wardrobe mistress for the local opera house and it was through her that he became incurably infected with the magic of the theatre. When he arrived in Canada, he worked as a farm hand in Saskatchewan, a cannery in Vineland, Ontario, and then in construction. In his spare time Dieter became involved with a local summer theatre. By 1956, he’d quit his day job and made theatre his life. In 1958 he began working with as a stagehand for CBC-TV. In 1966 he began his career with The National Ballet of Canada. At the time, the company shared wardrobe and shop facilities with the Canadian Opera Company, and Dieter was soon promoted to technical and production director for both organizations. By 1976, he was working exclusively with the National Ballet, overseeing every technical aspect of getting productions on stage on time and within budget, as well as planning the logistics of touring. He remained with the company until his death in 1996. The range of his knowledge and hands-on experience became legendary, and he shared them generously. By 1985, Dieter became centrally involved in developing plans for a new Ballet Opera House and was given the responsibility of finding a new permanent home for the National Ballet. It was not easy to locate a space high and open enough to accommodate the large rehearsal spaces the company wanted, but Dieter did it. He worked closely on every aspect of the project right down to the studio floors. The Walter Carsen Centre is in many ways a monument to the dedication, meticulous planning, and attention to detail that Dieter Penzhorn displayed for The National Ballet of Canada.Share a memory >
Johan Persson (Dancer 1989-2000) studied at the Royal Swedish Ballet School and then later at the National Ballet School. He joined The National Ballet of Canada in 1989 and was the winner of the Fourth International Competition for the Erik Bruhn Prize in 1995 alongside Jaimie Tapper. Together their win marked the first time that the prize had been won by two dancers representing the same company. In 2000 he joined The Royal Ballet performing there until his retirement in 2002. Today he is a photographer specializing in portraiture and promotional and production photography for live dance and theatre. He has published three books of his works - The Royal Ballet: 161 images, Pas De Deux: The Royal Ballet in Pictures and Garsington Opera: a celebration and A Decade at the Donmar: 2002 - 2012. Persson is married to on and off stage partner Jaimie Tapper and they have two children, Lukas and Ava. Website: perssonphotography.com
Nadia (Potts) Gomez (Dancer 1966-1986) has been a Professor and Program Director of the Dance Programme at Ryerson University since 1989 and authored the book Betty Oliphant: The Artistry of Teaching. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit Nadia Potts Tribute >
Kevin Pugh (Dancer 1978-1991) Visit Kevin Pugh Tribute >
Doug Purvis, 1949-2008 (Musician 1972-2008) began tuba lessons with Hubert Meyer of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 1964 and was thereafter accepted at the Eastman School of Music where he studied with Donald Knaub and Cherry Beauregard. Following the completion of his Bachelor of Music in 1972 he studied with Arnold Jacobs of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and began his tenure as Principal Tuba with The National Ballet of Canada Orchestra, a position he held until his untimely death in 2008. Doug also had an extensive career as a freelance player including time with the Canadian Opera Company, Hamilton Philharmonic, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Esprit Orchestra, and the Hannaford Street Silver Band in addition to studio recording. Share a memory >
Craig Randolph (Dancer 1978-1984) continued dancing with English National Ballet until 1994, after which he worked for the ballet staff of both the English National Ballet School and company until 2002. That year saw a radical change when he took up residence at a Buddhist monastery in northern California, where he ordained as a bhikkhu (monk) in the forest-dwelling tradition of Thailand. His ordained name is Ahimsako Bhikkhu. He currently lives at a monastery in rural England. Email address: email@example.com
Hamish Robertson (Staff 1975-1978) left the ballet to become the Music Officer Finance of the Canada Council. Since then he has managed two symphonies (The Hamilton Philharmonic and Niagara), was the National Fundraising Director of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and managed a number of short term consulting gigs. He is married for the second time to Bev and lives in Brantford, ON. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ian Robertson, 1940-2006 (Dancer 1958-1961) was a strong supporter and teacher of Russian classical ballet, having been influenced by a performance of the Bolshoi Ballet at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1959. He joined the National Ballet in 1958 and after three seasons with the company moved to London, England where he studied at the Royal Ballet School and danced with London’s Festival Ballet and Walter Gore’s London Ballet. In 1964 he was invited to study with Alexander Pushkin in Leningrad, following which he danced with Les Grands Ballets Classiques, Ballet Internationals de Paris and the Zurich Opera Ballet. After a career-ending knee injury, he returned to Canada where he taught all over the country. In 1988 Ian returned to St. Petersburg for the Vaganova Academy’s 250th anniversary and was invited to take the teachers course, becoming the first westerner to graduate from this two-year program. He continued to teach students at the Scotiabank Dance Centre in Vancouver, BC until a year before his death and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Vancouver Ballet Society. Ian’s influence will be felt for many years to come. Share a memory >
Frank Rodwell, 19??-?? (Dancer 1952-1956) trained under Violet Foukes, Florence Clough, Velda Willie, the Christenson brothers at the San Francisco Ballet Company, Deborah Deering at the Ottawa Ballet Company, and Nesta Toumine at the Classical Ballet. After leaving the National Ballet in 1956, Frank made regular appearances on CBC television programs as both a dancer and actor, including Junior Magazine and Witness to Murder. Share a memory >
James Ronaldson, 1930-1987 (Dancer 1953-1956, Staff 1956-1980) trained under Betty Oliphant as well as at the Northcott School in London and the Maurice Fashion Arts Academy in Montreal. This Montreal native started as a Soloist in The National Ballet of Canada and moved on to become a Wardrobe Assistant before enjoying a long career as a Wardrobe Supervisor beginning in 1963. A respected dancer in the company, he won acclaim for interpretations of Von Rothbart in Swan Lake and the Count in Giselle. As Wardrobe Supervisor, Ronaldson oversaw the creation of thousands of costumes and was personally responsible for translating Desmond Heeley's and Jürgen Rose’s opulent designs for Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet and The Nutcracker, respectively, into costumes. Share a memory >
Clinton Rothwell (Dancer 1968-1981) is the Artistic Director of the Huntsville Ballet Company in Huntsville, AL. Clinton’s wife Carrie assists him as Ballet Mistress to the company. Email address: email@example.com
Je-an Salas (Dancer 1994-2008) taught ballet for Dance Teq from 2008 to August 2011 and has been a PMA®-Certified Pilates Teacher since June 2011. She graduated from the Ron Fletcher Program of Study as a Qualified Fletcher Pilates® Teacher in 2009 and became a licensed Facilitator for the Fletcher Pilates®, Inc. in 2010 and is the owner of Articulate Bodies® - A Fletcher Pilates® Studio in Yorkville. Je-an was appointed Resident Pilates Teacher for The National Ballet of Canada in 2008 and she lives with Adam Leavens, R.M.T. in the Pape and Danforth area. Her daughter Monica Lei Lau is studying Kinesiology at York University.
Galina Samtsova (Dancer 1961-1964) was considered a natural dancer and auditioned for the Kiev Ballet School for fun while accompanying a friend. Told that she was better suited for folk dancing, she was eventually picked up by a company after graduation before moving to Canada. Unable to speak English, her first eleven months in Toronto were the most difficult in her life. Brought into the company by Celica Franca, she represented The National Ballet of Canada internationally on tours and as a guest dancer. Europe eventually lured her back with invitations from major dance companies in Paris and London including the London Festival Ballet. She left the London Festival Ballet, to start the New London Ballet Company with her husband. In her later years, she shared her passion of dance as the Director of the Scottish Ballet. Share a memory >
Gillian Saunders (Dancer 1985-1990) left to pursue a career in musical theatre and is currently the Head of Dance at Sheridan College in the Music Theatre Performance Programme. She recently received her M.A. in Dance from York University. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pat Scott, 1928-2007 (Staff 1985-1995) studied in England and worked in the wardrobe departments of a number of ballet and theatre companies in the United Kingdom before moving to Canada in 1963. She was head of wardrobe for the Stratford Festival from 1964 to 1973 and later joined The National Ballet of Canada as Wardrobe Supervisor, remaining there until her retirement in 1995. She can be remembered for her clean and elegantly cut costumes, as well as laying the foundations for the art of theatrical costuming in Canada. Share a memory >
Georg Schlögl, 1928-2010 (Staff 1964-1993) amazed audiences with his ability to transform designs on paper into spectacular sets. Originally intending to become a landscape architect, one of his teachers influenced him to turn towards theatre instead. Completing an apprenticeship at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, he persevered as a scenic artist despite the hardships of the war years by continuing to study and perfect his technique with the opera house’s master painter. He flew from Germany to work with The National Ballet of Canada on the set of The Nutcracker in 1964 and returned two years later to add a European flair to the set of Erik Bruhn’s new Swan Lake, following which he emigrated to Canada to join the company. For nearly thirty years, he influenced the audience’s enjoyment of the ballet by perfecting the use of materials as a component of the overall artistic concept and performance of the ballet. Share a memory >
Ramón Segarra, 1941-1984 (Dancer 1964-1965) trained at the New York High School of Performing Arts before dancing with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and New York City Ballet. Known for his bravura technique and meticulous partnering, he joined The National Ballet of Canada and later the Ballet of West Berlin’s Deutshe Oper. Following his retirement from the stage, he shared his passion and notable attention to detail with the next generation of dancers as a Ballet Master of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre until his death. Share a memory >
Daniel Seillier, CM, 1926-2012 (Staff 1965-1978) often referred to as the master of all masters, was an eminent pedagogue who inspired countless dancers throughout his remarkable teaching career in Canada and abroad. Seillier trained, then danced with the Paris Opera Ballet until 1946 and les Ballets français until 1950. He spent the next decade at the Marquis de Cuevas International Ballet eventually becoming Ballet Master with the company. He was also Ballet Master at the San Carlos Opera Company in Lisbon before accepting an offer to join Les Grands Ballets Canadiens as Ballet Master and Joint Artistic Director in 1963. In 1965 Seillier moved to Toronto where he joined the staff of both Canada’s National Ballet School and The National Ballet of Canada, serving as Ballet Master and later Resident Teacher until 1980 after which he returned to Montreal as Ballet Master of Ecole Superieure de Danse du Quebec. Seillier taught at the school until 1998, and then at the Conservatoire de danse de Montreal, which he founded with his son, until his retirement in 2008. Seillier’s contribution to dance in Canada was recognized in 1993 when he became a Member of the Order of Canada. In 2010 Ecole Superieure de Danse du Quebec named Studio Seillier in his honour. Visit Daniel Seillier Tribute > Share a memory >
Stephanie Slater (Dancer 1994-1997) went on to dance with La La La Human Steps in Montreal and toured worldwide. She currently lives in Toronto and is a registered Yoga teacher and certified Pilates instructor. Email address: email@example.com Website: stephanieslater.ca
Lois Smith, OC, 1929-2011 (Dancer 1951-1969) Visit Lois Smith Tribute > Learn more > Share a memory >
Phyllis Spira, 1943-2008 (Dancer 1967-1968) began her dance training in South Africa before attending The Royal Ballet School in 1959. She joined the Royal Ballet’s smaller company in 1960, now the Birmingham Royal Ballet, where she soon ascended to the role of Soloist. She left the company in 1963 to return to South Africa where she danced with the Johannesburg P.A.C.T. Ballet, and later the Capab Ballet,and formed a partnership with Gary Burne. During the 1967/68 season the pair performed as Principal Dancers with the National Ballet. Spira was the only South African dancer to bear the title of Prima Ballerina Assoluta, which was granted to her in 1984. She retired from dance in 1988 and in 1991 received South Africa’s highest civilian award for excellence, the Order of Meritorious Service Gold. Her example and leadership have left a lasting impression on classical ballet in South Africa. Share a memory >
Anne (Kathryn) Steele-Moses (Dancer 1963-1967) went on to dance in various TV and stage shows, then worked in the TV industry for many years. Married National Ballet dancer (now actor) Sam Moses, they have two sons and three beautiful grandchildren and live in Toronto. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cynthia Steljes, 1960-2006 (Musician 1995-1996) was considered one of Canada’s greatest oboe players. Also playing the English horn, she performed as a soloist and chamber musician in North America, Europe and in the Middle East. Shortly after joining The National Ballet of Canada Orchestra, she founded Quartetto Gelato alongside her husband Peter De Scotto. Releasing over six albums, numerous concerts and television specials, the group was nominated for multiple awards including Juno and Gemini Awards and won the prestigious debut artist of the year title from U.S. National Public Radio's influential classical radio show “Performance Today” in 1996. The Toronto native shared her passion by teaching at the Glenn Gould Professional School and was a Guest Artist with a variety of orchestras and musical groups. Learn More > Share a memory >
Grant Strate (Dancer 1951-1962, Staff 1958-1970, Resident Choreographer 1964-1970) Visit Grant Strate Tribute > Learn more >
Jaimie (Tapper) Persson (Dancer 1994-1999) began her training at the Edmonton School of Ballet, later moving to the National Ballet School. She joined The National Ballet of Canada in 1994 and was the winner of the Fourth International Competition for the Erik Bruhn Prize in 1995 alongside Johan Persson. Together their win marked the first time that the prize had been won by two dancers representing the same company. In 1999 she joined The Royal Ballet where she performed until her retirement in 2006. Tapper is married to on and off stage partner Johan Persson and they have two children, Lukas and Ava. She has achieved her Honours Graduate degree in Psychology from Middlesex University and currently works in maternal health in London, England.
Veronica Tennant (Dancer 1964-1989) Website: veronicatennant.com Learn more >
Glen Tetley, 1926-2007 (Staff 1987-1989) had a long and career in ballet. Originally pursuing a career in medicine, he became interested in ballet as a journalist reviewing Antony Tudor’s Romeo and Juliet. During World War II he trained as a naval medical officer and upon his return, faced a three month wait before he could enter Columbia Medical School. During this time, he decided to pursue his new passion in ballet and trained as a modern and classical dancer studying under Antony Tudor, Margaret Craske, Hanya Holm and Martha Graham. He danced a remarkable range of roles with a number of ballet and modern dance companies, including the New York City Opera, American Ballet Theatre and the Martha Graham Dance Company, as well as on Broadway and on television. Renowned as a choreographer and for his ability to articulate the mysteries and complexities of ballet, he also directed classical and modern companies including Stuttgart Ballet and the Netherlands Dance Theatre.
He became an Artistic Associate of The National Ballet of Canada between 1987 and 1989 choreographing works such as Alice (1986), La Ronde (1987) and Tagore (1989) for the company. Other Tetley works in the company’s repertoire include Sphinx (1983); Voluntaires (1988); DaphnisandChloe (1988); The RiteofSpring (1992); and Oracle (1994). Over the course of his career, he choreographed more than 60 works and received numerous awards and honours, including the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award, the Tennant Caledonian Award and the Prix Italia, among others. With a close affiliation to the American Ballet Theatre and The National Ballet of Canada, he ended his career as a freelance choreographer. Share a memory >
Sarah Thomas (Dancer 1962-1964) started dancing at the age of six and in 1959, was one of the first students registered at the National Ballet School studying under a scholarship from the Buffalo Ballet Guild. Upon graduating at 17 years of age, she was offered a position with The National Ballet of Canada and toured much of North America representing the company. She later moved on to perform with the Harkness Ballet Company and toured with several European countries. Share a memory >
Deborah (Todd) Thompson (Dancer 1978-1988) is the Executive Director of the Ontario Equestrian Federation and has an incredible husband and five beautiful children. Email address: email@example.com
Charmain Turner, 1942-2005 (Dancer 1958-1964, 1965-1984) started dancing under the recommendations of a doctor to correct a foot injury. Studying under a ballet scholarship she was trained by Betty Oliphant, Maria Fay, Kathleen Crofton, and John O’Brien. She made her professional debut at the age of 16 with the National Ballet in Swan Lake. Taking a leave of absence to perform principal roles with England’s Ballet Rambert for the 1964/65 season, she would go on to also perform in Ireland, the United States, Japan, and Mexico. Returning to The National Ballet of Canada, she performed onstage for over 20 years and shared her knowledge as an occasional Teacher and Repetiteur as a part of the National Ballet’s artistic staff. Taking advantage of her considerable dramatic skills she brilliantly performed challenging character roles such as Carabosse in The Sleeping Beauty, Juliet's Nurse and Lady Montague in Romeo and Juliet and the Queen Mother in Swan Lake. Share a memory >
Claire Vince (Dancer 1989-1992) returned to Sydney, Australia. She completed a communications degree and has since worked as Senior Publicist and Publicity Manager for Opera Australia, Sydney Festival and Sydney Opera House. She is currently the Senior Publicist at Houston Grand Opera Company in Texas. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Elizabeth Volpé Bligh (Musician 1976-1982) has been the Principal Harpist with the Vancouver Symphony since 1982, and harp sessional instructor at the University of British Columbia since 1985. In 2010, she performed at the Festival of the Sound and the American Harp Society Conference in Tacoma, and was on the harp jury for the Orchestre symphonique de Montreal Standard Life Competition. She was the Chairman of the Host Committee of 11th World Harp Congress in Vancouver, BC, July 24-30, 2011. She will be teaching and performing at the Canadian International Summer Harp Institute and the International Harp Workshop in Italy in 2012. Website: elizabethvolpebligh.com
David Walker, 1916-1994 (Dancer 1955-1958, Staff1966-1984) danced with The National Ballet of Canada under the name David Kerval. From London England, he studied at les Ballets Jooss and went on to dance with the International Ballet Company in London, the Kurt Jooss Dance Group, and the Elizabethe Leese Company before joining The National Ballet of Canada in 1955. He also performed in the ballet sequence of the film The Red Shoes. David Walker was dedicated not only to his art but to all who were associated with him. Upon retiring from the stage, he worked first as Paymaster and later as Assistant to the Artistic Director for Celia Franca, David Haber, Alexander Grant and finally Erik Bruhn. Share a memory >
Paul Winston, MD BSc FRCPC, (Dancer 1989-1995) is now a physician of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation practicing in Victoria, BC and specializing in neurorehabilitation, electrophysiology and sports/arts medicine. Based at Victoria General Hospital, he is a clinical instructor with the University of British Columbia. Dancing has been replaced with running in the beauty of the west coast, swimming, snowboarding and all things related to keeping a six year old busy. Email address: email@example.com
(Penelope) Anne Winter (Dancer 1956-1961) left the National Ballet and performed with London's Festival Ballet for two years before retiring from dance. She currently lives in Toronto and works as a Psychotherapist. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stanley E. Wood, 1925-2005 (Musician 1960’s) had anextensive musical career which spanned 35 years as a Principal Oboe and English Horn player for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He also played for The National Ballet of Canada, the Canadian Opera Company, the CBC Symphony Orchestra, and was a founding member of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. In retirement he enjoyed sharing his passion by playing with local musical groups in the Tilsonburg area. Share a memory >
Jane Wooding (Dancer 1972-1978) lives in the Toronto area with husband Ronald Shaffer. She has taught both dancers and teachers at Canada’s National Ballet School, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, York University, George Brown College, and Quinte Ballet School. Jane is presently Guest Teaching and is an Examiner for the Cecchetti Society of Canada. Email address: email@example.com
Olivia Wyatt, 1933-1959 (Dancer 1951-1953) started her career as a New York model. She performed with the Royal Conservatory of Music Opera Company and trained with Rita Warner, Celia Franca, and Ballet Arts with Lisan Kay before becoming a Charter Member of The National Ballet of Canada. With her husband, also a founding dancer and future Artistic Director of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, she went on to co-direct and co-choreograph McGill’s legendary satirical revue My Fur Lady. Share a memory >
Alexei Yudenich, 1943-1990 (Dancer 1972-1973) was a natural dancer having been selected to study at the Sarajevo Opera Ballet School at the age of 12 after accompanying a friend to auditions in bare feet following a game of soccer. Studying over the next years, he graduated into the company as a Soloist and performed with the Pennsylvania Ballet Company before joining The National Ballet of Canada. His gifts as a dancer were developed by his Bolshoi-oriented training in Yugoslavia. Retiring due to an injury, he shared his passion as a dance teacher in the South Jersey-Philadelphia area. Share a memory >
Your Story is Our History
Your story is our history! We are collecting stories and memories about the company from alumni, audience members and supporters both past and present. We are proud of our extraordinary history and by telling us your story you will be helping preserve the heritage of the company.
"One of the many memories from my 36 years as a musician with the company involves our beloved Associate Conductor, John Goss, who died tragically in 1986 in a traffic accident while vacationing in Barbados following a run of The Nutcracker.
While touring the east coast of Canada we were both attending a costume party for the dancers and musicians and John came dressed as a ‘backwards conductor’. I can’t remember exactly how he achieved this effect, but I presume he had on his tux jacket with the buttons at the back, or some such thing. We were touring Giselle, which features a short horn call in act one played in the pit and mimed on stage by Hilarion. Inspired by John’s choice of costume we conspired to play the horn call (which involves alternating two notes a fifth apart) actually ‘backwards’ at the next performance he was to conduct. Furthermore, to add to the effect, and to include his active participation in the ‘event’, he would turn completely away to cue me, in effect, conducting me ‘backwards’.
It seemed a good idea at the time, but as the moment approached the burden of responsibility began to weigh more heavily upon me. Not that the call was particularly difficult to play, but in its inverted ‘backward’ form, it did start on a higher note, and not the best note to hit every time on the french horn. The moment arrived, John turned away from me to conduct some phantom horn player on the other side of the pit, and I tooted away in reverse, wondering what was to become of us for our mischief that night. To my relief the altered call was a success, much to the undoubted confusion of my fellow musicians. While I’m sure they all noticed that something seemed ‘different’ that night, we’ll never know just how many members of the audience, or indeed the dancers were aware that they were there to experience the one and only ‘backwards’ Giselle horn call in dance history.
John was a wonderful human being, dedicated to the National Ballet, and all of us who knew him were incredibly saddened by his untimely passing, and will always miss the years we may have shared with him."
- Mr. Gary Pattison, Orchestra Member, 1977 to present
"Although at the time it was not funny to me this has now become one of the funniest stories that I tell to people. I think it was either as an Apprentice or my first year in the corps and we were performing Coppélia. One of my roles was as the Columbine Doll in the toy workshop scene and I was determined to be the best Columbine ever. To my memory the act is quite long when you are just standing there like a statue. After being wound up and doing a short dance with my Harlequin all the dolls settle back for what seems like an eternity while the Principal Dancers perform. After about five minutes of absolutely no blinking (this was a personal challenge) and staring at the red exit sign on the wall located in the audience, I started to feel a little peculiar. Now, I had been told the stories of a few dancers over the years fainting during this scene, but I was not going to be one of them. I probably had my weight back on my heels too much and my head started to fog over. I started seeing spots and before long I was losing consciousness. Now anyone who knows me knows that I don't give up easily and so passing out for me was certainly not an option. I didn't want to be another dancer pulled off the stage by their ankles by a Stage Hand after dropping to the floor. So as the blood left my head I stubbornly fought to stay alert, in the process of fighting this natural consequence I proceeded to stagger around half conscious with locked knees at the back of the stage during Karen's (Kain) solo like a demented possessed Frankenstein doll never dropping my stiff bent arm position. This staggering felt like it lasted some time but it was probably just a minute as the lurching around luckily brought me back to my senses and I made my way back to my original spot on the stage. I resumed the pose and like the consummate professional I am I never batted an eyelid (which started this whole darn problem!) After the act was over I made my way backstage completely mortified and apologetic and I think I may have shed a tear. I remember Joanne Nisbet quickly coming to meet me at the back and ask if I was alright. It was lovely how she told me not to worry and made me feel better telling me that during the event she had turned to the person next to her and exclaimed in her British accent ..."Oh look, Amber's gone for a toddle"
Thank you Joanne, for being such a gem."
- Miss Amber Armstrong, Alumni, Dancer 1986-1997
"As a fledgling actor I performed in The Holly and the Ivy in the Toronto Library theatre and another member of the company was Doris Tennant, Veronica Tennant's mom. One day she announced that she had a spare ticket for The Nutcracker with Veronica and Jeremy Blanton - my first ballet. Years later, as Chairman of Actors Equity Association I headed the team that negotiated the new contract with the National Ballet and the Royal Winnipeg with 3 National Ballet dancer reps - Charles Kirby, Alastair Munro and Leonard Stepanick as part of the association team; a great chance to see more ballets and make some great friends. So... in 1975 when I was offered the position of Company Manager I jumped at the chance. Since we had met as equals during the contract negotiations, I became one of the few members of the team that called Celia, Celia, rather than Miss Franca like all the rest.
On my first day on the job, the company gathered in Studio 1 to be introduced to the new Company Manager. In typical Robertson fashion and wanting to be seen as one of the group I entered the studio and swung my leg up onto the barre unfortunately my heel hit one of the bolts that held the barre to the turn buckle. So throughout the company meeting I could feel a trickle of blood running down my ankle into my sock.
The first place I took the company in my new role was The Metropolitan Opera House in New York. As an actor I followed opening night tradition and placed a split of champagne on every dancer’s makeup table. The fundraising department had been organizing a project involving copper medallions featuring Rudolph Nureyev designed by Dora de Pedery-Hunt. It was decided to present #1 to Rudolf himself and I was asked to arrange a meeting at the intermission for Assistant General Manager Jacques Mizne to make the presentation. I accompanied a very nervous Jacques to Rudolf's dressing room. The medallion set in a suede frame was dutifully presented and in the transfer the medallion fell out and rolled across the floor. Luckily Jacques did not pass out but he certainly lost a lot of colour in his face."
- Mr. Hamish Robertson, Alumni, Staff 1975-1978
"When I used to play the harp in the National Ballet Orchestra I was able to watch part of the show from the orchestra pit. The final performances of Celia Franca's Nutcracker were always hilarious, in particular the improvised mayhem during the battle scene. I don't know whether the audience was aware that the Three Blind Mice (complete with dark glasses and canes), and the inept Laurel-and-Hardy Stretcher Bearers for the cookie were not part of the usual choreography. I was always captivated by the humour of this production. The Mouse King was killed by being scared to death by a stuffed cat. After the scene with the fantastic dancing dolls, (carried off, stiff as boards), two gentlemen did the "After you, Alphonse" routine until one finally had to get off the stage. I have not seen a Nutcracker since that I love as much as this one."
- Mrs. Elizabeth Volpé Bligh, Alumni, Orchestra Member 1976-1982
“I joined The National Ballet of Canada Orchestra in September 1980 on trombone. My first performance with the company was in Montreal on the 1980 fall tour. I have been to many places in the world that I wouldn't have gotten to if it were not for the ballet tours - Newfoundland to British Columbia, Germany four times, Italy, Luxembourg, and the United States. I even went through Checkpoint Charlie before the Berlin Wall came down. My 31 years with the company have been a terrific experience. I have performed The Nutcracker 642 times with the National Ballet. Fortunately it is terrific music.”
- David Archer, Orchestra Member, 1980 to present
"As the Wardrobe Coordinator for the National Ballet I spend most of each performance wandering around in the dark backstage waiting for things to go wrong. I am armed with a plethora of safety pins, a handy pair of sharp scissors, a flashlight and several already threaded sewing needles. I clearly remember several vivid moments of several ballets, and not necessarily because of the dancing! In the early days of The Merry Widow there was a very memorable wardrobe moment. There is a very romantic Pas de Deux danced by Valencienne and her beaux Camille (performed for us that night by Caroline Richardson and Peter Ottmann) danced out in the garden by the gazebo. On this particular Sunday matinee, Valencienne's lace hem got caught on the row of military buttons on Camille's uniform jacket. Quick on his feet, Peter tried to rip off the lace hem to detach himself from Caroline, but this just led to more lace coming off the hem because the lace was very strong. As they danced more and more lace unravelled from the dress and it started to look like festive bunting draped all over Caroline's legs as she arabesqued. Both Peter and Caroline must have been completely distracted trying to figure out how to deal with yards of lace entwining them as they danced but it never showed. I, in the meantime was watching from the wings. I knew I had my scissors handy but was not about to make my National Ballet stage debut to go to them and help cut the lace off. As I watched more lace unravel I sent someone to get my larger scissors, in case they decided to come to the wings for my assistance. But no, they kept dancing. They finished the Pas de Deux as if nothing had happened, Peter bent down and gathered up an armful of lace, they bowed for a standing ovation and thunderous applause from the entire audience and slipped away into the gazebo to continue their secret rendezvous.
The next day we cut all the lace off all the Valencienne dresses.
I still meet people who tell me they were there for the show with all the lace. My Mom was in the audience and will tell you what she saw and Peter Ottmann tells the story wonderfully from a whole different perspective."
- Ms. Barbara de Kat, Wardrobe Coordinator, 1985 to present
"Celia Franca, Founder and Artistic Director of The National Ballet of Canada in the early years, was to us dancers both formidable and much to be respected. She was not a tall woman – perhaps 5’4” - and wore her long black hair drawn back severely into a bun at the nape of her neck. She was always fully made-up: pancake base heavily applied, plucked and penciled-in thinnest of arched eyebrows, painted perfect lips in a dark red colour, à la Clara Bow, and darkly mascara-ed eyes outlined heavily in dark kohl. Her prominent nose dominated her narrow face, but it was her cobra-like eyes which mesmerized me, a very young dancer keen to please. She was slender in size, but without an ideal dancer’s body. She had slightly bowed legs (which gave her wonderful elevation), and truly ugly feet - poorly arched and with large bunions. You would never guess the illusions she could create onstage as a dancer when you saw her stationary body.
Celia, or Miss Franca as we always called her, was still dancing when I joined the company in 1956, and she was the only artistically mature dancer in the company at the time. She must have realized that we young inexperienced dancers needed a role model to learn from. I would watch from the wings in awe as she portrayed a tragic Giselle in Giselle, a comic Swanilda in Coppélia, the mature Woman in His Past in Lilac Garden, the witty Operetta Star in Offenbach in the Underworld, the Italian ballerina in the satiric Gala Performance, or a bereaved parent in Dark Elegies. She displayed amazing range and an intuitive sense of timing. No other dancer in the company (or perhaps elsewhere) had this dramatic ability or profound musicality."
- Mrs. Jocelyn (Terell) Allen, Alumni, Dancer 1956-1964
"Here's a little anecdote from my four years with the National Ballet. As I recall, it was 1956, my second season with the company, and our U.S. Tour was coming to an end. We were performing one dreary night in Buffalo, with a scattering of filled seats in the audience, and I was performing the role of Dr. Coppélius in Coppélia. At a crucial moment, I open a curtain slightly upstage to check on Coppélia (danced then by former Artistic Director Celia Franca) sitting in a chair. To my astonishment I see not Celia, but Stage Manager David Haber resplendent in Coppélia's costume, his hairy legs protruding below the dress! Needless to say, I quickly closed the curtain, and the next time I opened it to my relief, the real Coppélia was sitting in the chair. I couldn't help noticing the dancers in the wings trying to stifle their giggles... and I desperately made the same effort on stage!"
- Marcel Chojnacki, Alumni, Dancer 1955-1959
In memory of Beverly Banfield Lowe, 1941-2011 (Dancer 1956-1960): "In the spring of 1956 Celia Franca was faced with the dilemma of 10 dancers leaving the budding National Ballet. One of the most difficult tasks for the company in those days was to find dancers who had compatible styles so that a uniformity was developed. Fortunately Betty Oliphant's school on Sherbourne Street provided students with just such a requisite. That year, far too early for us to start our professional careers, Celia, pressed to the wall, invited a number of we "babies" well under 18 to join the National Ballet. Two close friends, Beverly Banfield and Cathy Carr, were billed as "the heavenly twins" both being only 14 years of age.
Reading was our schooling, but receptions taught us the facts of life, a difficult grappling for any teenager, yet Beverly seemed to ride it like a seasoned surfer cresting the wave. She was always of good humour ready to make sure everyone else was up to their challenges. She had a natural beauty and talent and her warmth lit up the stage in many roles.
Sadly Beverly is the first from that particular era to leave us. She will be remembered in such roles as the Young Girl in Offenbach in the Underworld, the Pas de Quatre in Les Rendez-vous, and a Friend in Coppélia.
After marrying and settling in Maine, Beverly was determined to carry on her love of dance and ran her own ballet school for many years. Her husband Ralph their three children and her ballet friends will sorely miss Bev."
- (Penelope) Anne Winter, Alumni, Dancer 1956-1961
"It was about 1959, during Celia Franca's final performance of Giselle. It was also my last performance as I, a member of the Corps de Ballet, was leaving the company. The memory of tears streaming down my - and Miss Franca's - face is vivid all of these decades later. Along with the emotion at that time, how blessed I have always felt, to have shared that amazing experience with such an ICON of the Canadian ballet world."
- Mrs. Gloria Hutchinson, nee Bonnell, Alumni, Dancer 1956-1959
"Celia Franca, the consummate professional, adapted intelligently to whatever sized stage we were on-whether in opera house, high school auditorium, or hockey arena - stages varied hugely in size and surface, wing space and crossover space. While we usually had a warm-up class onstage before the show, taught by Celia, sometimes the scenery trucks had arrived late and the stage wasn’t ready for use. Celia then taught us how to warm up in the front of the house, holding on to the plush back of a seat for a barre - often on a sloping floor - and doing our pliés and grands battements there. If the stage became clear, we would continue our class onstage. She never missed a warm-up, and we learned to follow suit, although it was not always easy after a whole day on the bus. We also knew that she would notice if we didn’t. She didn’t miss anything."
- Mrs. Jocelyn (Terell) Allen, Alumni, Dancer 1956-1964
"I remember a special performance that I was in while I was in the Corps de Ballet. We were on a US tour and Rudolf Nureyev was our Guest Artist. We were performing Coppélia in Florida. Nureyev was dancing the lead role and he had just finished his first act solo. All of the corps were placed in very specific positions on stage during and after Nureyev's solo. When he was finished he turned his back to the audience and started walking towards me. All of a sudden he told me to get up off the seat where I was posed so he could sit down. For a split second I didn't know what to do because I had been told where I was supposed to be positioned on stage and was afraid to move. But then I came to my senses and figured that if Nureyev was telling me to get up I better listen. So, I got off my seat and he sat down and then put me on his lap. Boy was I excited. I will never forget getting a chance to sit on the lap of one of the most famous dancers in history."
- Miss Donna Rubin, Alumni, Dancer 1984-1988
"My Memory: I was cast in the ballet Kettentanz. I was a Corps de Ballet member and I had not danced anything in a solo role yet. I was injured and very nervous on the night of my first performance. After the performance, Karen Kain came backstage and gave me the nicest pep talk."
- Ms. Kathleen E. Trick, Alumni, Dancer 1972-1975