News

Director of Production James Thornley Steps Down

October 4, 2019

Continues as Production Consultant on Swan Lake

Karen Kain, Artistic Director of The National Ballet of Canada, and Barry Hughson, Executive Director, today announced that Director of Production James Thornley
has stepped down from his position after 30 years with the company. Mr. Thornley will continue to work as a production consultant on Ms. Kain’s new Swan Lake which makes its world premiere in June 2020 and will pursue freelance and consulting opportunities.
 
Jim is one of the finest Directors of Production in the world. The National Ballet is incredibly fortunate to have been the beneficiary of his remarkable skill and extensive knowledge over the past three decades. With his considerable expertise and guidance, the National Ballet has been able to create monumental new works as well as successfully tour to the dance epicentres in the world. We will miss his immense talent, instinct and commitment to excellence,” said Mr. Hughson.
 
Jim has been a huge part of our successes over the last 30 years and will be greatly missed. He maintained the highest standards of excellence in all our productions and skillfully brought designers’ visions to life. Personally, he was a great support to me when I took on the role of Artistic Director and I am so glad I will be able, once again, to rely on his expertise as I stage a new Swan Lake,” said Ms. Kain.
 
During Mr. Thornley’s tenure at the National Ballet, he worked with three Artistic Directors: Reid Anderson (1989 – 1996), James Kudelka (1996 – 2005) and Karen Kain (2005 – present). Mr. Thornley oversaw all of production, a large department that crosses over several key areas such as wardrobe, lighting, stage management, road crew and the workshop. In 2011, The Gretchen Ross Production Centre was established. The 59,000 square feet facility is where all of the National Ballet’s sets and props are created and maintained. Under Mr. Thornley’s leadership, it is considered one of the finest ballet production facilities globally.
 
Mr. Thornley has overseen the creation of countless productions by some of the most renowned choreographers and designers. Highlights include James Kudelka’s The Nutcracker, The Contract (the Pied Piper) and The Actress, as well as John Cranko’s Onegin, with designs by Santo Loquasto. He has been a key figure in the National Ballet’s international touring, including such memorable tours to the US, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. With professionalism, he managed the unique challenges of touring while ensuring that the company’s high standards were always met in every venue.
 
The National Ballet will celebrate Mr. Thornley’s commitment and legacy to the company in May 2020 and wishes him all the best.

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BMO Financial Group presents the 2019/20 season.
 
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.
 
Tricon Capital Group presents Swan Lake.
 
Lead philanthropic support for Swan Lake is provided by The Walter Carsen New Creations Fund, with generous underwriting from Richard M. Ivey, C.C., an anonymous friend of the National Ballet, The Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation, Gail Drummond & Bob Dorrance, Nancy Pencer, Sandra Pitblado & Jim Pitblado, C.M., Gretchen Ross & Donald Ross, O.C., Anne-Marie Canning, Tim & Frances Price, Kevin & Roger Garland, C.M. and Aaron & Heather Regent. Additional support provided by The Producers’ Circle.
 
The Producers’ Circle: Gail & Mark Appel, John & Claudine Bailey, Inger Bartlett & Marshal Stearns, Laura Dinner & Richard Rooney, Gail Drummond & Bob Dorrance, The Thor E. and Nicole Eaton Family Charitable Foundation, Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan, Kevin & Roger Garland, C.M., 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., The Harry and Lillian Seymour Family Foundation, Gerald Sheff & Shanitha Kachan and The Jack Weinbaum Family Foundation.
 
The National Ballet also acknowledges support for Swan Lake provided by Judi Conacher, Sherry and Edward Drew and Julie Medland.
 
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 Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

Contact Information

media@national.ballet.ca