Honourable senators, it is with great pride that I rise today to speak about the sixtieth anniversary of the National Ballet of Canada.
Founded as a classical ballet company by Celia Franca in 1951, the National Ballet of Canada has over 60 dancers and its own symphony orchestra. It is the only Canadian ballet company to present a full season of ballet classics in their entirety throughout the autumn, winter and spring — in addition, of course, to the ever-popular Nutcracker.
Canada's premier dance company has performed for over 10 million people. The company has toured Canada, the United States and throughout the world, including performances in Germany, the Netherlands, Israel, Hong Kong, Japan, Italy and Mexico, and has been invited to perform in China next year.
The National Ballet of Canada has worked closely with major companies around the world, such as the American Ballet Theatre in New York, the Houston Ballet, the San Francisco Ballet and most recently with the Royal Ballet in London in an extremely successful co-production of Christopher Wheeldon's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is having its North American premiere this June in Toronto.
Honourable senators, the National Ballet of Canada is artistically vibrant, confident and forward-looking under the extraordinary leadership of Karen Kain. Ms. Kain's consummate artistry and passionate advocacy for the arts has strengthened the cultural life of many Canadians.
In honour of this important anniversary, the company is inviting the entire community to celebrations to be held throughout the year and has a six-city tour planned for western Canada, from Winnipeg to Victoria.
The world premiere of Romeo and Juliet, choreographed by the acclaimed Alexei Ratmansky, opens the sixtieth anniversary season in November and will be the highlight of the season.
The Tutu Project will feature 60 tutus from great moments in the company's history and new tutus created by the community. This exhibition will be displayed throughout the entire season at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts and at some of Toronto's most popular events and festivals.
The sixtieth anniversary will be capped off with the annual Mad Hot Wonderland on June 21. The annual gala of the National Ballet of Canada is always one of the hottest tickets in town, and raises $1 million in an evening of ballet, dinner and dancing — money, I might add, that is applied directly to the bottom line and is much needed.
Honourable senators, I know you join me in congratulating the National Ballet of Canada on its 60 successful years. I encourage honourable senators to take in the festivities when you are in Toronto or if the ballet comes to your city.