The National Ballet of Canada is Canada’s largest ballet troupe. It was founded by Celia Franca in 1951 and is based in Toronto, Ontario. Based upon the unity of Canadian trained dancers in the tradition and style of England’s Royal Ballet, The National is regarded as the premier classical ballet company in Canada.
In 1951, the two major ballet companies in Canada were the Royal Winnipeg Ballet headed by Gweneth Lloyd and the Volkoff Canadian Ballet founded by Boris Volkoff and based in Toronto. Although both of these companies were well renowned, they were biased in their selection of dancers and often held auditions in their founding cities. With a desire to create an unbiased Canadian ballet troupe, and inspired by the Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, a group of ballet enthusiasts set out to create the National Ballet of Canada.
Both Lloyd and Volkoff were interested in being the first artistic director of the company, but the organisers agreed that the only way to create a truly unbiased ballet company was to hire an outsider named Celia Franca as artistic director.