2019/20 Season: Karen Kain's 50th Anniversary

February 12, 2019

New Swan Lake by Karen Kain
Three World Premieres and Three Company Premieres
Tour to Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C.
New Choreographic Associate

Karen Kain, Artistic Director of The National Ballet of Canada, today announced that she will direct and stage a new Swan Lake for the 2019/20 season in celebration of her 50th anniversary with the company. Along with the world premiere of Swan Lake, the milestone season will feature world premieres by Crystal Pite and Robert Binet, three company premieres and the appointment of Alysa Pires as Choreographic Associate. #1920SeasonNBC

Over her remarkable 50-year career with the National Ballet, Ms. Kain’s invaluable contribution to the company and dance in general has made her one of Canada’s most renowned and committed arts advocates. Next season, she will bring her unique vision to one of the greatest classical ballets of all time, Swan Lake. This fresh and vibrant staging will draw inspiration from Erik Bruhn’s landmark production and will feature new sets and costumes by the renowned designer Gabriela Týlešová. Swan Lake makes its world premiere on June 5, 2020.

At this point in my career, 50 years on, the thing that continues to drive me is my love for the art form and for the National Ballet,” said Ms. Kain. “Swan Lake has been a huge part of my artistic life and holds a special place in my heart. With this new staging, I want to accentuate the romantic core and the love story that provides the ballet with its powerful, emotional life.”

Ms. Kain has commissioned acclaimed Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite to create a new work on the National Ballet. Emergence, Ms. Pite’s outstanding first work for the company created in 2009, is an audience favourite and winner of four Dora Mavor Moore Awards. This world premiere will feature sets by Emergence designer Jay Gower Taylor, costumes by Nancy Bryant and lighting by Tom Visser. The ballet will make its world premiere in a programme featuring Chroma by Wayne McGregor and the company premiere of Frederick Ashton’s Marguerite and Armand, February 29 – March 7, 2020.

The National Ballet presents the world premiere of Orpheus Alive, a new work by Choreographic Associate Robert Binet, in November 2019. Mr. Binet’s new work is a fresh re-telling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, a tragic tale of a gifted musician who, against all odds, travels to the underworld to bring his beloved back to life only to lose her again because of a moment of doubt. Mr. Binet has updated the tale by casting Orpheus as a woman and Eurydice as a man. Orpheus Alive is set to a commissioned score by renowned American composer Missy Mazzoli with libretto by Rosamund Small, set and costumes by Hyemi Shin and lighting by Tom Visser and is presented with the company premiere of George Balanchine’s Chaconne, which is based on choreography he created for a 1963 Hamburg State Opera production of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, November 15 – 21, 2019.

A section of Orpheus Alive, performed by three National Ballet dancers, will be presented at the Guggenheim’s Works and Process in New York City, September 2019.

The Fall Season in November 2019 features the company premiere of Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort, presented with Harald Lander’s Etudes and Piano Concerto #1 by Alexei Ratmansky plus the great classic, Giselle. Christmas favourite, The Nutcracker by James Kudelka, returns for the Holiday Season. The Winter Season features Alexei Ratmansky’s Romeo and Juliet, onstage during March Break.

The National Ballet will tour to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. with a mixed programme of Petite Mort & Piano Concerto #1 &
The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude & Approximate Sonata, January 28 – 29, 2020, plus The Sleeping Beauty, January 30 – February 2, 2020. The company’s dedication to international touring is part of the National Ballet’s mandate to showcase its artists and repertoire on the world stage. Recent tours have included appearances in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Hamburg, Paris, London, New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The company’s annual tour to the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, April 2 – 4, 2020, will feature Romeo and Juliet.

The National Ballet will perform The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude at the Fall for Dance North Festival, Fall 2019, at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto.

Alysa Pires will be appointed Choreographic Associate in the 2019/20 season, alongside Choreographic Associates Robert Binet and Guillaume Côté. Ms. Pires was one of five choreographers selected for the National Ballet’s Choreographic Workshop. Her creation, In Between, was presented at the Betty Oliphant Theatre in Toronto in January 2018. She has created works for Ballet Kelowna, Ballet Edmonton (Citie Ballet), Ballet Jörgen, Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre, Ryerson University, her own company Alysa Pires Dance Projects and more. 

Alysa Pires Full Bio >

Ms. Kain also announced the National Ballet will launch CreativAction, a new project focused on developing Canadian dancemakers and supporting the broader dance community in Toronto. Curated by Mr. Binet, CreativAction will feature three core activities: Choreographic Workshop, Open Space and micro-commissions. The Choreographic Workshop provides National Ballet dancers and independent choreographers the opportunity to create works in collaboration with the company’s artists, music and production staff, within the National Ballet’s facilities. Open Space will provide 1,200 hours in National Ballet studio spaces free of charge to independent choreographers. The National Ballet will commission choreographers to create three new small scale and innovative dance works per season that are flexible and can be presented in a wide variety of contexts.

More Information on CreativAction >

Ms. Kain will be the first Canadian to be honored by the Royal Academy of Dance with the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award. She will be presented the award at the Genée International Ballet Competition in Toronto at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in August 2019. Never before has the award been bestowed outside of the UK.

The National Ballet of Canada’s 2019/20 Season
BMO Financial Group Presents the 2019/20 Season

Fall Season
November 6 – 10, 2019

Orpheus Alive World Premiere
& Chaconne Company Premiere
November 15 – 21, 2019

& Piano Concerto #1
& Petite Mort Company Premiere
November 27 – December 1, 2019

Holiday Season
The Nutcracker
December 12, 2019 – January 4, 2020

Petite Mort
& Piano Concerto #1
& The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude
January 28 – 29, 2020, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Opera House, Washington, D.C.

The Sleeping Beauty
January 30 – February 2, 2020, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Opera House, Washington, D.C.

Winter Season
New Crystal Pite World Premiere
& Chroma
& Marguerite and Armand Company Premiere
February 29 – March 7, 2020

Romeo and Juliet
March 11 – 22, 2020

Romeo and Juliet
April 2 – 4, 2020, National Arts Centre, Ottawa

Summer Season
Swan Lake World Premiere
Directed and Staged by Karen Kain
June 5 – 21, 2020

June 9, 2020

Venue: Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen Street West, Toronto

Box Office: The box office is located at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (145 Queen Street West) or call 416 (toll free 1 866) 345 9595. Tickets can also be purchased online at


2019/20 Season Information >

2019/20 Season Media Kit >

2019/20 Season Brochure >

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BMO Financial Group presents the 2019/20 Season.

Lead philanthropic support for Orpheus Alive is provided by The Producers’ Circle with additional support from Susanne Boyce & Brendan Mullen.

Lead philanthropic support for Piano Concerto #1 is provided by an anonymous friend of the National Ballet and The Producers’ Circle

Etudes is a gift from The Volunteer Committee, The National Ballet of Canada.

Giselle was produced as a memorial to the late William P. Walker and was made possible through the courtesy of many generous friends of the National Ballet.

TD Bank Group presents The Nutcracker.

The Nutcracker is made possible by generous financial support from production underwriters Sandra Pitblado & Jim Pitblado, C.M., Lawrence and Ann Heisey and an anonymous friend of the National Ballet.

The Sleeping Beauty is made possible by generous contributions from Margaret Fleck & Jim Fleck, C.C., The Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation, Sandra Pitblado & Jim Pitblado, C.M., Gretchen Ross and Nancy Pencer & Michael Benjamin.

Lead philanthropic support for The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude is generously provided by Sandra Simpson with additional support from The Producers’ Circle.

Philanthropic support for [New Crystal Pite] is provided by The Producers’ Circle.

Lead philanthropic support for Romeo and Juliet is provided by Sandra Pitblado & Jim Pitblado, C.M., with additional generous support from Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan, The Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation, an anonymous friend of the National Ballet and Walter Carsen, O.C.

The company’s Canadian tours are made possible with the generous support of The John and Margaret Bahen Fund of The National Ballet of Canada, Endowment Foundation.

Lead philanthropic support for Swan Lake is provided by The Walter Carsen New Creations Fund, with additional support from The Producers’ Circle.

The Producers’ Circle: Gail & Mark Appel, John & Claudine Bailey, Inger Bartlett & Marshal Stearns, Gail Drummond & Bob Dorrance, The Thor E. and Nicole Eaton Family Charitable Foundation, Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan, Kevin & Roger Garland, Ira Gluskin & Maxine Granovsky Gluskin, The William & Nona Heaslip Foundation, Anna McCowan-Johnson & Donald K. Johnson, O.C., Judy Korthals & Peter Irwin, Mona & Harvey Levenstein, Jerry & Joan Lozinski, The Honourable Margaret Norrie McCain, C.C., Julie Medland, Sandra Pitblado & Jim Pitblado, C.M., Lynda & Jonas Prince, Susan Scace & Arthur Scace, C.M., Q.C. and Gerald Sheff & Shanitha Kachan.

The National Ballet of Canada’s Choreographic Workshop is made possible by the generous support of Lucille Joseph & Urban Joseph, O.C and The Delaney Family Foundation.

The Choreographic Associates are generously supported by Sans Limites.

Guillaume Côté is sponsored through Dancers First by Emmanuelle Gattuso, C.M. and Allan Slaight, C.M.

Hannah Fischer is sponsored through Dancers First by an anonymous donor.

The National Ballet of Canada gratefully acknowledges the ongoing support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Ontario Arts Council; the City of Toronto through the Economic Development & Culture Department; the Government of Canada – Department of Canadian Heritage, through the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism; and the Government of Ontario through The Honourable Michael Tibollo, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

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