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       The National Ballet of Canada, a classical
ballet company established in 1951 by Celia Franca, hosting repertoires from a
range of traditional pieces to pieces developed by Canadians in the modern era (Crabb, National Ballet of
Canada 2012). As of today, its artistic director Karen Kain; a former ballet
dancer herself, has led the company to
its successful status as a prideful arts organization (National Ballet of Canada
2011). Kain was a well-renowned dancer of her time, her technique in movement
and a good sense of musicality lead her
to 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 an
art medium in Canada.



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           Born in
Hamilton, Ontario on March 28, 1951,
Kain’s inspiration to become a ballerina sparked when she first saw Celia
Franca’s production of Giselle (Doob 2013). “When I grow
up I am going to be a ballerina. I could go out every night and dance. I will
be in Giselle. It will be so much fun being a ballerina”. Words she
stated as a child soon became a reality, in 1962 Kain was enrolled into
the National Ballet School of Canada (Library and Archives Canada 2000).
Eventually, she would dance under the National Ballet of Canada in 1969, and
debut in 1971 as the Swan Queen in Swan Lake. With her
hard work, determination and rise in popularity, this would lead her to be casted in many other dances, most notably Giselle (Doob
2013). 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 artistic
director in 2005.  (Landau 2015)




           Karen Kain
is one of the few Canadian ballet dancers to have a successful career
nationally and internationally, she is one of the two dancers under her company to receive the Order of Canada (Library
and Archives Canada, 2000), which is only granted to those who have showcased
dedication, honour and service as a Canadian (Payette 2017). She won the
women’s silver medal at the Moscow International Ballet competition in 1973,
giving Canada an opportunity to receive newfound
regard through arts and a means for Kain to gain gratitude and respect from
others (Doob 2013). Kain is also one of the few dancers to retire much
later into her career, which goes to show her diligence for dancing and the
arts (Library and Archives Canada). As artistic director of the National
Ballet of Canada, she still has major
relevance among the ballet community, being a one-woman
army who makes all casting decisions, and invests her time into every little
detail for performances.  (Landau 2015)



Legacy on Canada


         Being an advocate for
the arts comes with the idea of art being a luxury, a luxury for everyone to
express themselves with. At the time, ballet was only gaining a general
Canadian audience until the 1930’s, where it truly embarked (Crabb, Ballet
2007). Due to Karen Kain’s success, it raised the awareness of the National
Ballet of Canada and gave others a new
perspective on dance being that of a
lifestyle and a serious career path. In her autobiography, A Movement
Never Lies, she states; “For Michelangelo, the human body was an instrument
for the soul, the noble means by which we reach towards God… To understand
the ancient belief that the true artist is possessed by some power, some
spirit.”  (Kain 1994)  Now as an admirable icon among
many has used this to her advantage, she is the founder of the Dancer
Transition Resource Centre, helping aspiring dancers
transition into their careers more smoothly. The Karen Kain School of the Arts
is named after her, in honour and tribute to her feats and contribution to
Canada’s artistic dominion (Doob 2013). She’s truly made an impact on
those who which to excel further into a path in arts
and has pushed others to make their dreams come true.



           To some,
the image of ballerinas is that of dainty
females who frolic on stage, only for them to end their careers once their
joints become weak and ailing. Even after achieving her dreams of going onstage
and performing in front of others, Karen
Kain has a new 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 well documented,” (Kain 1994) the woman herself stated, and
that’s what Karen Kain is willing to keep going for years to come.

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