A native of Ottawa, Ontario, Jonathan Renna 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 before re-joining the company in 2007. Mr. Renna was promoted to First Soloist in 2009.
Mr. Renna danced the role of Mercutio in the world premiere of Romeo and Juliet by Alexei Ratmansky and
Polonius in the North American premiere of Hamlet
by Kevin O’Day. He also performed in the North American premiere of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by
Renna’s repertoire with the National Ballet includes The Nutcracker, The Sleeping
Beauty, Onegin, Giselle, Swan Lake, The Seagull, West
Side Story Suite, Chroma, Russian Seasons, Carmen and Emergence.
2011 and 2012, Mr. Renna led student workshops at the National Ballet’s Summer
Renna danced with the company in 24
Preludes by Chopin at the 2010 Cultural Olympiad at the Winter Olympics in
Question and Answer
You are leading the National Ballet’s first Summer
Dance Intensive for aspiring dancers. Tell us about the programme.
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?
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.
“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
“As Prince Gremin, Jonathan Renna was a picture of dutiful love.”
Danceview Times, 2011
“excellent character sketches provided by… Jonathan Renna as
the docile Doctor”
Ballet Review, 2009