One of the top international ballet companies, The National Ballet of Canada was founded in 1951 by Celia Franca. A company of 70 dancers with its own orchestra, the National Ballet has been led by Artistic Director Karen Kain, one of the greatest ballerinas of her generation, since 2005. Renowned for its diverse repertoire, the company performs traditional full-length classics, embraces contemporary work and encourages the creation of new ballets as well as the development of Canadian choreographers. The company’s repertoire includes works by 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, and the company's Choreographic Associates Robert Binet, Guillaume Côté and Alysa Pires.
The National Ballet tours in Canada, the USA and internationally with appearances in Paris, London, Moscow and St.Petersburg, Hamburg, New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and San Francisco.
An acclaimed dancer, teacher and director, Hope Muir's 33-year career spans both the classical and the contemporary worlds and two continents. Born in Toronto, her family relocated to the United Kingdom when she was 15. She studied ballet in London, England at Peter Schaufuss' newly formed London Festival Ballet School (now English National Ballet School). Upon graduation, she danced with English National Ballet, performing choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, August Bournonville and John Cranko among others. In 1994, she joined the renowned Rambert Dance Company (RDC), under the direction of Christopher Bruce CBE. She performed with RDC for 10 years, dancing repertoire of Christopher Bruce, Jiří Kylián, Mats Ek, Ohad Naharin, Twyla Tharp, Javier De Frutos and Merce Cunningham. In 2004, she crossed the Atlantic again to dance with the famed Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, adding William Forsythe, Nacho Duato and Lar Lubovitch to her repertoire.
After a 20-year career as a dancer, Hope retired from the stage and became a sought-after guest teacher and rehearsal director. She joined Scottish Ballet in 2009, becoming Assistant Artistic Director in 2015. In 2017, she was named Artistic Director of Charlotte Ballet in North Carolina. In July 2021, Hope was appointed Artistic Director of The National Ballet of Canada, officially beginning the role on January 1, 2022.
Known for her commitment to collaboration and innovation, during her tenure as Artistic Director at Charlotte Ballet, Hope commissioned 12 world premieres, six US premieres and brought in many new choreographers to the company. She also established the highly successful Choreographic Lab.
As a guest teacher and rehearsal director, Hope worked with English National Ballet, Rambert Dance Company, Matthew Borne's New Adventures Company as well as The Julliard School and North Carolina School of the Arts, coaching both classical and contemporary technique. She has assisted numerous choreographers on staging their works internationally including Christopher Bruce, Javier De Frutos and Helen Pickett, among others. She was also invited by Emily Molnar to be the Guest Rehearsal Director of Ballet BC and worked as Rehearsal Assistant at The Royal Ballet in London.
In 2009, Hope assisted Crystal Pite on the creation of her award-winning work Emergence for The National Ballet of Canada. She has since supported in staging the work for companies around the world. Hope also staged Christopher Bruce’s Rooster for the National Ballet in 2007 and was a guest teacher with the company in 2011.
A leader of bold vision, Hope is driven by constant curiosity and the desire to cultivate new voices, collaborate in new ways and move the artform of ballet forward. Committed to creating an inclusive, supportive working environment, her deep love and respect for the artform, and its artists, informs every decision she makes.
Born in Spain, Vanesa G. R. Montoya joined Les Grand Ballets Canadiens de Montréal in 2006 and became the company’s first Black Principal Dancer in 2018.
Ms.Montoya has performed as a soloist dancer in several ballets including The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Rubies, The Firebird, The Four Seasons, Roméo et Juliette, The Rite of Spring, Rassemblement, Le regard d’Orphée, Leonce and Lena, Cantata, The Queen of Spades, The Little Prince, Duende, Coming Together, Arenal, L'Amoroso, Jardí Tancat, Six Dances, Forgotten Land, Bella Figura, Symphony of Psalms, Polyphonia, Arbos, Danz, Minus One, Searching for Home, Dream Away, RE-,II, Frisking, Ondine, Désert d'amour, Dance, Chamber Suite, Episodes, Noces, among others. Her repertoire also includes ballets from world-renowned choreographers such as George Balanchine, Jiří Kylián and Christopher Wheeldon.
Ms.Montoya was an Honourable Mention (Torrelavega) at the 2002 Prix de la Fondation Princesse Grace, Monaco Dance Forum.
Born in Toronto, Canada, Dora winner Jera Wolfe is a choreographer and performer of Métis heritage and is an Associate Artist with Red Sky Performance.
Mr. Wolfe’s captivating choreography has awarded him the 2019 Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Original Choreography for Trace. He has demonstrated an impressive repertoire of works presented by Canadian Stage, Fall For Dance North, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Festival des arts de Saint-Sauveur, Danse Danse, and Jacob's Pillow. Some of his recent works include Bare choreographed on Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet, FLOW by Red Sky Performance, Arise for Canada's National Ballet School, and Begin Again for Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers.
Most recently Jera presented an evening of works titled Reverie at Festival des arts de Saint-Sauveur.
Aside from choreography, he performs primarily for Red Sky Performance and has also performed with many other companies including Peggy Baker Dance Projects.
Christopher Wheeldon trained at The Royal Ballet School and joined The Royal Ballet in 1991. In 1993, he joined New York City Ballet (NYCB) and was promoted to Soloist in 1998. He was named NYCB’s first Resident Choreographer in July 2001. Since then, Mr. Wheeldon has created and staged productions for the world’s major ballet companies.
Mr. Wheeldon is Artistic Associate of The Royal Ballet where he has created many works including Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Winter’s Tale, both of which were co-productions with The National Ballet of Canada. He has also choreographed for the Metropolitan Opera, created ballet sequences for the feature film Center Stage (2000) and Sweet Smell of Success on Broadway (2002), created a special excerpt for the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics and was the Artistic Director for Les Arts Decoratif’s Fashion Forward exhibit in Paris (2016).
In 2014, Mr. Wheeldon directed and choreographed the musical version of An American in Paris, which had productions in Paris, on Broadway and in London. For this production, Mr. Wheeldon received a Tony Award for Best Choreography and an Outer Critics Award for Best Choreography and Direction. His many other awards include the Martin E. Segal Award from Lincoln Center, American Choreography Award, Dance Magazine Award, multiple London Critics’ Circle Awards, Leonard Massine Prize, Prix Benois de la Danse and an Olivier Award. In 2016, Mr. Wheeldon was named an Order of the British Empire (OBE) and was made an Honorary Fellow of American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Canadian choreographer and director Crystal Pite is a former company member of Ballet BC and William Forsythe’s Ballett Frankfurt.
Ms. Pite’s professional choreographic debut was in 1990, at Ballet British Columbia. Since then, she has created more than fifty works for companies such as The Royal Ballet, The Paris Opera Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater I, Cullberg Ballet, Ballett Frankfurt, The National Ballet of Canada, Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal (Resident Choreographer, 2001–04), Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, and Ballet British Columbia. She has also collaborated with Electric Company Theatre and Robert Lepage. Ms.Pite is Associate Choreographer of Nederlands Dans Theater I, Associate Dance Artist of Canada’s National Arts Centre, and Associate Artist at Sadler’s Wells. She holds an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Simon Fraser University.
In 2002, she formed her company Kidd Pivot in Vancouver. Integrating movement, original music, text and rich visual design, Kidd Pivot’s performance work is assembled with recklessness and rigour, balancing sharp exactitude with irreverence and risk. The company’s distinct choreographic language is marked by a strong theatrical sensibility and a keen sense of wit and invention. Kidd Pivot tours nationally and internationally, performing critically acclaimed works such as Revisor, Betroffenheit, The Tempest Replica, Dark Matters, Lost Action, and The You Show.
Ms. Pite is the recipient of the 2008 Governor General of Canada’s Performing Arts Award, Mentorship Program, the 2011 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award, the 2012 Lola Award, the Canada Council’s 2012 Jacqueline Lemieux Prize and the UK Critic’s Circle Dance Award in 2015 and 2018. In 2017, she received the Benois de la Danse for her creation The Seasons’ Canon at the Paris Opera Ballet. In 2018, she received the Grand Prix de la danse de Montréal. She is the recipient of three Sir Laurence Olivier awards, including one in 2017 for Flight Pattern.
Widely recognized as one of contemporary ballet's most accomplished conductors, noted both for the range of his repertoire and the insightfulness of his musical interpretation, 2021 marks David Briskin's 15th year as Music Director and Principal Conductor.
Prior to moving to Canada, Mr. Briskin lived and worked for 23 years as a conductor in New York City, working in opera, ballet and in concert. He conducted for seven years with American Ballet Theatre at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York City Center and in major opera houses throughout the world and was a seasonal conductor for New York City Ballet. In addition, he has worked with nearly all the major North American ballet companies.
Highly in demand internationally as a guest conductor, Mr. Briskin has appeared regularly with The Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, The Royal Swedish Ballet and The Royal Danish Ballet. In 2018, he conducted three world premieres as part of San Francisco Ballet’s Unbound Festival. Last season, Mr. Briskin conducted the Canadian premiere of Joby Talbot's Everest with Calgary Opera, for which he was nominated The Betty Mitchell Award for Outstanding Musical Direction, and in 2019, returned to New York's City Center with Houston Ballet.
This season, he will appear with The Royal Danish Ballet conducting Romeo and Juliet and La Sy/phide, both in Copenhagen and on tour throughout Denmark. He will also make his first appearance with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.
Mr. Briskin has appeared with orchestras and opera companies throughout Europe, Asia and North America including the Pittsburgh, Detroit, Baltimore, Cincinnati Pops, Indianapolis, Windsor and Shanghai Symphony Orchestras, as well as Calgary Opera, Manitoba Opera, Opera Carolina, Lake George Opera and Sarasota Opera.
Over the years Mr. Briskin has been extremely active in arts education. In 2008, he was appointed Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Music where he taught conducting and served as Director of Orchestral Activities and Conductor of the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra until 2015.
Mr. Briskin has served on juries for the Ontario Arts Council, the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto and Sir Ernest MacMillan Memorial Foundation. He has been a strong advocate for musical life in Toronto speaking publicly on behalf of the National Ballet, Luminato Festival and the University of Toronto, among others.