Karen Kain has led The National Ballet of Canada with great success since 2005. Her many accomplishments include returning the company to the international stage, commissioning exciting new work and forming partnerships with leading ballet companies such as The Royal Ballet (London).
Long recognized as one of the most gifted classical dancers of her era, noted for her compelling characterizations and versatility as a performer, she is one of Canada’s most renowned and committed advocates for the arts. Born in Hamilton, Ontario, Ms. Kain received her training at Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto, joining the National Ballet in 1969.
In 1973, Ms. Kain was awarded the Silver Medal in the Women’s Category at the prestigious International Ballet Competition in Moscow and, along with Frank Augustyn, received a special prize for Best Pas de Deux. Her distinguished career included international guest performances with such companies as Paris Opéra Ballet, Roland Petit’s Le Ballet de Marseilles, the Bolshoi Ballet, London Festival Ballet and Vienna State Opera Ballet.
Throughout her career she developed a close creative partnership with Rudolf Nureyev and often performed with him.
Ms. Kain retired from dancing following a farewell tour in 1997 and took up the position of Artist-in-Residence with the company, the role later expanded to that of Artistic Associate; subsequently, she was appointed Artistic Director.
Barry Hughson joined The National Ballet of Canada as Executive Director in 2014. Since that time, the company has accelerated its trajectory of artistic growth, fiscal responsibility, community engagement, and international presence, including landmark tours to New York City’s Lincoln Center, Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris and the Mariinsky and Stanislavsky Theatres in Russia.
Mr. Hughson began his career as a dancer with The Washington (DC) Ballet, where he performed classical and contemporary repertoire at the Kennedy Center and on tour throughout the world. For the last 25 years, he has served as an executive leader at Connecticut’s Warner Theatre, Complexions Contemporary Ballet in New York City, New Jersey’s American Repertory Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Boston Ballet and The National Ballet of Canada.
As an arts advocate, consultant and educator, Mr. Hughson has had consulting, teaching and speaking engagements in the US, Europe, South America, and Asia. He has served on a variety of industry boards, including Dance/USA, North America’s largest service organization for professional dance, where he recently completed two terms as a Trustee and Vice Chair. In partnership with Dance/USA and The Royal Ballet, Mr. Hughson spearheaded the first ever meeting of North American and European executive dance leadership, bringing together 22 administrators from nine countries in 2015. In Canada, Mr. Hughson serves as Vice-Chair of the National Council for the Canadian Dance Assembly and served on the Steering Committee for the Canadian Arts Summit from 2014 to 2017.
A native of Sydney, Australia, Ormsby Wilkins has been American Ballet Theatre’s Music Director since 2005 following 16 years in the same post at The National Ballet of Canada where he received much critical acclaim for his conducting. Prior to that, Mr. Wilkins held conducting posts at both the Australian Ballet and the Royal Ballet.
Mr. Wilkins international engagements have included Teatro alla Scala, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, New National Theatre of Tokyo and Hong Kong Ballet. Mr. Wilkins has conducted many orchestras around the world, both in concert and in association with ballet. They include the Philharmonia and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras of London, Royal Opera House Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic, National Arts Centre Orchestra and Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra.
Mr. Wilkins continues to conduct for American Ballet Theatre on its frequent international touring engagements that have included London, England, Tokyo, Havana, Cuba, Oman, Abu Dhabi, Seoul and Paris.
George Balanchine was born in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1904. He joined the State Theatre of Opera and Ballet in St. Petersburg at the age of 17. In 1924, Mr. Balanchine was invited by Serge Diaghilev to join Ballets Russes in Paris and was hired as Ballet Master in 1925, holding this position until the company was dissolved in 1929. Mr. Balanchine formed his own company, Les Ballets 1933 in Paris and shortly thereafter met the American dance connoisseur Lincoln Kirstein, which led him to move to the US. In collaboration with Mr. Kirstein, Mr. Balanchine formed the School of American Ballet and American Ballet, which later became the resident ballet company at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Mr. Balanchine was choreographer for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo from 1944 to 1946 and in 1946, he formed Ballet Society, which became New York City Ballet in 1948. He held the title of Ballet Master with New York City Ballet until his death in 1983.
A major artistic figure of the 20th-century, Mr. Balanchine revolutionized the look of classical ballet. Taking classicism as his base, he heightened, quickened, expanded, streamlined and even inverted the fundamentals of the 400-year-old language of classical ballet. This had an inestimable influence on the growth of ballet in the US. Although at first his style seemed particularly suited to the energy and speed of American dancers, especially those he trained, his ballets are now performed by all the major classical ballet companies throughout the world.
Justin Peck is Resident Choreographer and a Soloist with New York City Ballet (NYCB). Mr. Peck joined NYCB as a dancer in 2006. As a performer, he has danced a vast repertoire of works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Peter Martins, Alexei Ratmansky, Benjamin Millepied, Christopher Wheeldon and many others. In 2013, Mr. Peck was promoted to the rank of Soloist. He began choreographing in 2009 at the New York Choreographic Institute. In 2014, after the creation of his acclaimed ballet, Everywhere We Go, he was appointed as Resident Choreographer of NYCB, the second person in the institution’s history to hold this title.
Mr. Peck has created over 30 ballets, 14 of those for New York City Ballet. His works have been performed by Paris Opéra Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, L.A. Dance Project, Het Nationale Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, Houston Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet. His collaborators include composers Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner of The National, Dan Deacon; visual artists Shepard Fairey, Marcel Dzama, John Baldessari and Jules de Balincourt; and fashion designers Mary Katrantzou, Humberto Leon of Kenzo and Opening Ceremony and Dries Van Noten.
In 2014, Mr. Peck was the subject of the documentary Ballet 422, which followed him for two months as he created NYCB’s 422nd original ballet, Paz de la Jolla. In 2015, his ballet Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes won the Bessie Award for Outstanding Production.
In 2017, Mr. Peck choreographed the feature film Red Sparrow, starring Jennifer Lawrence, directed by Francis Lawrence and produced by 20th Century Fox Studios. In 2018, Mr. Peck made his first choreographic foray into Broadway with a major revival of Carousel, directed by Jack O’Brien and starring Joshua Henry, Jesse Mueller and Renée Fleming.
Sir Frederick Ashton created a distinct style of classical ballet imbued with a wonderful sense of musicality and intertwining of steps. Active until his death in 1988 at the age of 83, he created a vast repertoire of ballets which are performed around the world.
Frederick Ashton was born in Ecuador in 1905 and was raised in Peru. After moving to England at the age of 18, he began studying with the great dancer and choreographer Léonide Massine and with dancer/teacher Marie Rambert at the Rambert Dance Company. It was Ms. Rambert who discovered his talent for choreography and helped him earn his first commission in 1926, A Tragedy of Fashion.
Ashton created hundreds of works, the best-loved being Daphnis and Chlöe, The Two Pigeons, Birthday Offering, La Fille mal gardée, A Month in the Country and Monotones I and II. Toward the end of his life, Ashton embarked on a number of projects, including revivals of his older works, some thought to be lost, including Romeo and Juliet for English National Ballet and Capriol Suite for Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet. He also revived two of his full-length ballets, Cinderella and Ondine for The Royal Ballet and contributed to Natalia Makarova’s production of Swan Lake for English National Ballet.
Ashton was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1962. In 1970, he was made a Companion of Honour and received the Order of Merit in 1977. He was also made a member of the Legion d'Honneur by the French government, a Commander of the Danish Order of Dannebrog and was awarded the Swedish Carina Ari Gold Medal.
Sir Frederick Ashton died in 1988.
Born in Toronto, Jeff Morris studied technical theatre production and administration at Ryerson’s Theatre School. Following Ryerson, he became Production Stage Manager for Toronto Dance Theatre (1990 – 1995), stage managing the company’s debuts in Berlin, Warsaw, Beijing, Tokyo and at the Joyce Theater, New York. He was Production Stage Manager for Dancers for Life (AIDS Committee of Toronto, 1991 – 1997), Stage Manager for Theatre Passe-Muraille (Never Swim Alone, Metamorphosis of a Shadow) and for the Fringe Festival of Independent Dance Artists.
Mr. Morris joined The National Ballet of Canada in 1995 and has since stage-managed a wide range of the company’s unique classical and contemporary repertoire, including the world premieres of James Kudelka’s The Four Seasons, Cinderella and An Italian Straw Hat, company premieres of John Neumeier’s The Seagull, A Streetcar Named Desire and Nijinsky, and Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Winter’s Tale. He is an adjunct faculty member at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre and Festival Co-director for the biannual festival dance: made in Canada/fait au Canada.
Liliane Stilwell joined the National Ballet in 2015. Previously she served as stage manager for the Canadian Opera Company for 22 years. Highlights include Don Quixote, Barber of Seville, Lucia di Lammermoor, La Cenerentola, Otello, Marriage of Figaro, Götterdämmerung (complete Ring Cycle), Macbeth, La Bohème, Eugene Onegin, Madama Butterfly and was part of the team that took Oedipus Rex to the Edinburgh International Festival. She was production stage manager for Grease and stage manager for Robin Hood and Cinderella at the Elgin, Dirty Dancing at the Royal Alexandra Theatre and Hairspray at the Princess of Wales. Other credits include Tom Jones, Speed‑The‑Plow, Romeo and Juliet, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Big River, Shear Madness, Carousel, Me and My Girl, Roar of the Greasepaint – Smell of the Crowd.
Liliane was Head Stage coordinator for the Papal visit World Youth Day’s Way of the Cross and has stage managed several industrial shows in Canada and the US.
Born: Laguna Beach, California
Joined National Ballet: 2009
Promoted to Principal Dancer: 2018
Born: Tokyo, Japan
Joined National Ballet: 2006
Promoted to Principal Dancer: 2015
Born: Paraparaumu, New Zealand
Joined National Ballet: 2013
Promoted to Principal Dancer: 2016
Born: Moscow, Russia
Joined as Principal Dancer: 2014
Born: Toronto, Ontario
Joined National Ballet: 1998
Promoted to Principal Dancer: 2005
Born: Nanaimo, British Columbia
Joined National Ballet: 1999
Promoted to Principal Dancer: 2011