Jonathan Renna

Jonathan Renna 2013-14 Photo Credits

Jonathan Renna, photo by Sian Richards.


Jonathan Renna was born in Ottawa, Ontario and trained at Canada’s National Ballet School. He joined The National Ballet of Canada in 1997, leaving in 2000 to dance with Northern Ballet Theatre in England and Alberta Ballet. Mr. Renna re-joined the National Ballet in 2007 and was promoted to First Soloist in 2009.  

Mr. Renna’s repertoire with the National Ballet includes the role of Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Don José in Carmen and Prince Gremin in Onegin as well as roles in The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Swan Lake, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Seagull, Hamlet, West Side Story Suite, Chroma, Russian Seasons, The Man in Black, Pur ti Miro and Emergence. Recently, Mr. Renna danced in the Canadian premiere of Nijinsky by John Neumeier. 

Mr. Renna is an instructor at both the National Ballet’s Summer Dance Intensive and In Studio, the National Ballet’s recreational dance and fitness programme for all ages and levels.  

Mr. Renna danced with the company in 24 Preludes by Chopin at the 2010 Cultural Olympiad at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. 

Question and Answer

You are leading the National Ballet’s first Summer Dance Intensive for aspiring dancers. Tell us about the programme. 

When Kate Kernaghan and I started preparing the program we wanted to introduce the participants to several different styles of dance, offering the kids a selection of great teachers from all forms of dance. We have 42 students in all and have separated them into two groups by age. The program offers students 14 - 18 a chance to work with a soloist from the National Ballet, credited teachers from Canada's National Ballet School and alumni from last season’s So You Think You Can Dance Canada in a wide variety of dance styles including ballet, lyrical jazz, contemporary, repertoire, pointe and hip hop. The students are dancing five hours a day, Monday to Friday.

What interests you most about teaching? 

I love when I can explain something to a student and help them understand and apply what's being taught. Not every student learns the same and not every student understands the first explanation. Teaching is fun but a challenge, you have to have a lot of creativity and patience.  

What brought you to ballet? When did you know dance would be your career? 

An old teacher of mine told me that ballet would help me with my jazz movements, giving strength and structure to my dancing. When I was 20, I left the National Ballet and took a year off and I really decided that ballet was the career for me. A little late but better late than never.

Do you have a favourite role? 

I always seem to play the bad boy characters like Tybalt and Heathcliff, so I have to say that I really loved playing to role of Prince Gremin in Onegin. He had a soft quality about him that I found very appealing, also being onstage with Sonia Rodriguez was pretty great too!

What production in the 60th anniversary season are you most excited about? 

The 60th anniversary is a big celebration and it's wonderful just to be a part of it.I'm really looking forward to the Western Tour. I'm dancing a great role in Emergence and I also get the opportunity to visit my family in Calgary and Vancouver.

What do you like most about Toronto in the Summer? 

Toronto is so great in the summer, I love how the whole city seems to come to life once the good weather hits. I love not having to wear gloves and heavy jackets, I love BBQ's, sitting on patios with friends, riding my bike and generally being outside as much as I can.


“As Prince Gremin, Jonathan Renna was a picture of dutiful love.”Danceview Times, 2011 

“Greta Hodgkinson and Jonathan Renna stood out in their pas de deux to The Hardest Button to Button. Beyond their technical brilliance, they made their steps interesting.” Danceview Times, 2012 

“Jonathan Renna as Escamillo is costumed like a bull including grey skin and head horns. He represents, presumably, carnal lust and the male testosterone archetype, and is given suitable animalistic movement and a brutal coupling with Carmen.” The Globe and Mail, 2009