Artful Musing

ARTFUL BLOGGER: New biography explores battles and heartbreaks of Celia Franca

By Paul Gessell

In 1972, Celia Franca was at the height of her powers as founding artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada. She had yet to move to Ottawa to reign supreme as the Dowager Empress of dance.

During Franca’s days with the Toronto-based National Ballet, dating back to 1951, she could be a tyrant, she could bully her board and she could reduce her dancers to tears. But there was one person she could not browbeat: Russian phenom Rudolf Nureyev.

In a complicated business arrangement, Nureyev started dancing with the National Ballet in 1972, initially as the Prince in a touring production of The Sleeping Beauty. Everything had to go the way Nureyev wanted, according to a new Franca biography The Pursuit of Perfection by Toronto author and dance historian Carol Bishop-Gwyn. Indeed, Nureyev was the only one allowed to boss around Franca. (more…)