by Shealah Stratton
Published at 2010-05-21
On April 24, The Editing Company attended the National Ballet School’s book launch of The Ballet Class: A History of Canada’s National Ballet School 1959–2009 written by Norma Sue Fisher-Stitt. TEC editors Shealah Stratton and Beth McAuley worked with Professor Fisher-Stitt on this informative and engaging history.
The NBS is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and The Ballet Class was released to coincide with the alumni reunion weekend of April 23–25. The event was held at the Quaker House on Maitland Street, the location of the original School. The building now serves as the students’ dining hall and is connected to the Schools’ main building on Jarvis Street.
Several notable alumni were in attendance, as were current Artistic Director Mavis Staines and Executive Director Jeff Melanson. Fisher-Stitt spoke about her connection to the School and the personal reasons she had for researching and writing her book. In her discussion, she emphasized that this is just one history of the School, written from her perspective. There are, she pointed out, many other histories yet to be published.
The Ballet Class covers the history of NBS from its inception in 1959 up until 2009. Fisher-Stitt captures the struggles and triumphs of its founders Betty Oliphant and Celia Franca, and brings these two matriarchs of Canadian ballet to life in all their complexity. Despite the odds, their vision drove the School to become the success that it is.
The anecdotes from former students and teachers offer a rare glimpse into the inner workings of this unique, high-pressure environment that has produced world-renowned dancers. However, the list of alumni and their achievements make it evident that NBS serves its students well beyond the stage—many have gone on to successful careers outside of dance.
It’s a must-read for anyone interested in Canadian dance or arts history.
You can order The Ballet Class through your local bookstore or by contacting the National Ballet School.
TEC wishes Professor Fisher-Stitt much success with her book and the School another successful 50 years!
You might want to check out another great event put on by the NBS: The International Dance Day Flash Mob at the Toronto Eaton Centre: