The National Ballet of Canada, aclassical ballet company first established in 1951 by Celia Franca, hostingrepertoires from a range of traditional pieces to pieces developed by Canadiansin the modern era (Crabb, NationalBallet of Canada 2012). As of today, its artistic director Karen Kain; a formerballet dancer herself, has led thecompany to its successful status as a prideful arts organization (National Ballet of Canada2011). Kain was a well-renowned dancer of her time, her technique in movementand a good sense of musicality lead herto an all-time high in her career, continuing to dance past the age of 40.Being respected amongst many, Kain paved the way for contemporary dance as anart medium in Canada.
Biography Born inHamilton, Ontario on March 28, 1951,Kain’s inspiration to become a ballerina sparked when she first saw CeliaFranca’s production of Giselle (Doob 2013). “When I growup I am going to be a ballerina. I could go out every night and dance.
I willbe in Giselle. It will be so much fun being a ballerina”. Words shestated as a child soon became a reality, in 1962 Kain was enrolled intothe National Ballet School of Canada (Library and Archives Canada 2000).Eventually, she would dance under the National Ballet of Canada in 1969, anddebut in 1971 as the Swan Queen in Swan Lake. With herhard work, determination and rise in popularity, this would lead her to be casted in many other dances, most notably Giselle (Doob2013). With her retirement in 1997, Karen Kain closed her doors for dancing,but would later return to the scenes as the National Ballet of Canada’s artisticdirector in 2005.
(Landau 2015) Accomplishments Karen Kainis one of the few Canadian ballet dancers to have a successful careernationally and internationally, she was the second dancer under her company toreceive the Order of Canada (Library and Archives Canada,2000), which is only granted to those who have showcased dedication, honour andservice as a Canadian (Payette 2017). She won the women’s silver medal atthe Moscow International Ballet competition in 1973, giving Canada anopportunity to receive newfound regardthrough arts and a means for Kain to gain gratitude and respect fromothers (Doob 2013). Kain is also one of the few dancers to retire muchlater into her career, which goes to show her diligence for dancing and thearts (Library and Archives Canada).
As artistic director of the NationalBallet of Canada, she still has majorrelevance among the ballet community, being a one-womanarmy who makes all casting decisions, and invests her time into every littledetail for performances. (Landau 2015) Legacy on Canada Being an advocate forthe arts comes with the idea of art being a luxury, a luxury for everyone toexpress themselves with. At the time, ballet was only gaining a generalCanadian audience until the 1930’s, where it truly embarked (Crabb, Ballet2007). Due to Karen Kain’s success, it raised the awareness of the NationalBallet of Canada and gave others a newperspective on dance being that of alifestyle and a serious career path.
In her autobiography, A MovementNever Lies, she states; “For Michelangelo, the human body was an instrumentfor the soul, the noble means by which we reach towards God…
To understandthe ancient belief that the true artist is possessed by some power, somespirit.” (Kain 1994) Now as an admirable icon amongmany has used this to her advantage, she is the founder of the DancerTransition Resource Centre, helping aspiring dancerstransition into their careers more smoothly. The Karen Kain School of the Artsis named after her, in honour and tribute to her feats and contribution toCanada’s artistic dominion (Doob 2013). She’s truly made an impact onthose who which to excel further into a path in artsand has pushed others to make their dreams come true. To some,the image of ballerinas is that of daintyfemales who frolic on stage, only for them to disappear once their jointsbecome weak and ailing.
Even after achieving her dreams of going onstage and performing in front of others, Karen Kain has anew dream; and that is to inspire every one of her nation through ballet.”The importance of the arts to the societies in which they thrive is welldocumented,” (Kain 1994) the woman herself stated, and that’swhat Karen Kain is willing to keep going for years to come.