60th Hero Photo Credits

Celia Franca

Celebrating 60 Glorious Years

“A beautiful company, full of young talent and old wisdom… The future of The National Ballet of Canada is in wonderful hands.”
—Dancing Times (UK), 2010

It all began with the love of dance. Three Toronto volunteer organizers – Sydney Mulqueen, Pearl Whitehead and Aileen Woods – dreamed of a national ballet company. They sought the advice of Ninette de Valois, the pioneering founder of Britain’s Sadler’s Wells Ballet and she recommended a dramatic dancer, budding choreographer and firebrand named Celia Franca “–if you can get her.” They could and did get her. “I think you need me here” was her tactful judgment. The National Ballet of Canada was founded and, with Miss Franca as Artistic Director, made its debut on November 12, 1951 at the Eaton Auditorium in Toronto. The National Ballet of Canada now ranks as one of the world’s top dance companies with 70 dancers and its own orchestra.

Great Moments in a Remarkable 60-year History

  • 60-01

    Celia Franca

  • 60-02

    November 1951 programme

  • 60-03

    Earl Kraul and Galina Samsova

  • 60-04

    Lois Smith and Erik Bruhn

  • 60-05

    Veronica Tennant and Rudolf Nureyev

  • 60-06

    Nadia Potts and Tomas Schramek

  • 60-07

    Karen Kain, Errol Pickford and Glen Tetley

  • 60-08

    Martine Lamy and Rex Harrington

  • 60-09

    Rex Harrington

  • 60-10

    Karen Kain and Rex Harrington

  • 60-11

    Greta Hodgkinson and Aleksandar Antonijevic

  • 60-12

    Karen Kain, Veronica Tennant, Celia Franca, Alexandar Grant, Lynn Wallis, James Kudelka

  • 60-13

    Greta Hodgkinson

Learn More About the National Ballet of Canada's Impressive History

Where Are They Now?

Find out what some of our great artists of the past are doing now.

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