In Memoriam

Anna McCowan Johnson

Avie Bennett
Anna McCowan Johnson’s passion for ballet and dedication to teaching were inspirational. During her long career as a dance educator, including as founder and Artistic Director of Interplay School of Dance, she influenced many lives and introduced generations of young people to the joy of dance, both as participants and budding audience members. Anna was always proud to see how lives were touched and enriched through the joy of dance.

Anna was a dear friend to The National Ballet of Canada as well as to our artists. An active member of our audience, an advocate for ballet and an exemplar of the philanthropic spirit, Anna and her husband Don Johnson made leadership gifts to the Bold Steps Campaign in 1994 and the Soaring Campaign in 2016. They also joined the Dancers First sponsorship programme in 2016, building on their strong connection with Principal Dancer Svetlana Lunkina.

In 2016, Don set up The Anna McCowan Johnson Dance Accessibility Fund within The National Ballet of Canada, Endowment Foundation to honour her lifetime commitment to dance. The named fund supports existing and new strategic community engagement initiatives that will give young people a chance to explore dance.

The National Ballet will greatly miss Anna’s presence at performances, her commitment to our artists, and her far-reaching impact on learning institutions, performance companies and dance theatres in Canada.

“From good posture, balance and flexibility, to self-discipline, creativity, empathy and confidence, I understand firsthand the benefits of dance for young people. I hope that the National Ballet’s education programmes will give more students the opportunity to experience these gifts, and be a catalyst for inspiring future dancers, artists and creative thinkers in Canada and internationally.” - Anna McCowan Johnson

Don Johnson and Anna McCowan Johnson. Photo by Karolina Kuras.