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 the National Ballet’s Summer
Dance Intensive and is the Co-Director of 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.
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.
“As Prince Gremin, Jonathan Renna was a
picture of dutiful love.”Danceview
“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