Celia Franca founded The National Ballet of Canada in 1951 with the goal of presenting the best of classical and contemporary ballet. Today the company is among the world’s finest, with 70 dancers, an inhouse orchestra and a permanent home at The Walter Carsen Centre in Toronto. The National Ballet has a history of pre-eminent Artistic Directors and, starting January 2022, welcomes a new leader in Hope Muir.
The National Ballet is renowned for the richness and breadth of its repertoire, which includes legacy works, full-length classics, innovative contemporary pieces and exciting new productions from living choreographers in Canada and worldwide. The company performs the work of Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, Aszure Barton, Marie Chouinard, John Cranko, William Forsythe, James Kudelka, Wayne McGregor, Kenneth McMillan, John Neumeier, Rudolf Nureyev, Crystal Pite, Alexei Ratmansky, Christopher Wheeldon, Jiří Kylián, Robert Binet, Guillaume Côté and Alysa Pires, among other creators.
In recent years, the National Ballet has become a top destination for creative partnerships and the building and staging of new work. Since 2011, the company’s highly skilled production team has worked from a state-of-the-art facility, The Gretchen Ross Production Centre, to build and store its glorious sets and costumes.
The COVID-19 pandemic occasioned the National Ballet’s first virtual season in 2020/21 and the commissioning of several new works for film, including world premieres by Kevin A. Ormsby, Jera Wolfe and Alysa Pires. The company also launched Expansive Dances, a series of three original dance shorts by the Choreographic Associates: In Between by Ms. Pires, Lulu by Guillaume Côté and Lake Maligne by Robert Binet.
The National Ballet performs three extended engagements at Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts each year, augmented by national and international tours. The company has performed in Canada, the USA, the UK, Germany, The Netherlands, Israel, China, Japan, Italy and Mexico, with recent appearances in London, Los Angeles, Paris, Hamburg, Moscow, St. Petersburg, New York City and Washington, D.C.
Reaching audiences beyond the traditional theatre setting is one of the National Ballet’s highest priorities, particularly for children, youth and families. The company has a wide range of age-appropriate community engagement initiatives designed to share the joy and power of dance with young people in schools, hospitals, community settings and homes in ways that are meaningful and rewarding for them. YOU dance is the largest of these programmes and offers FREE workshops and performances to students in grades four through six.
The National Ballet upholds the principles of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in all aspects of its work and is taking important steps to better reflect Canada’s cultural diversity throughout the organization, its partners and audiences. Read our full commitment to EDI >.