Karen Kain to retire from National Ballet of Canada

‘The role of artistic director is the most challenging, and the most rewarding, of my career’

National Ballet of Canada’s artistic director Karen Kain in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

National Ballet of Canada’s artistic director Karen Kain in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Ballet superstar Karen Kain will retire as artistic director of The National Ballet of Canada in January 2021.

The ballet’s board of directors says Kain will step down from the post but remain with the company as artistic director emeritus.

The announcement comes nearly 15 years after Kain assumed the creative reins in 2005 and 50 years after joining the company as a dancer in 1969.

She says serving as artistic director “has been the greatest honour” of her life.

The ballet’s board chair Cornell Wright lauded Kain for inspiring “excellence in all who have the privilege to work with her.”

Kain commissioned and acquired 65 works for the company, and is set to direct and stage a new Swan Lake in June 2020.

“I am so proud of the National Ballet of Canada and feel so fortunate to have had this wonderful company as my artistic home for 50 years. The role of artistic director is the most challenging, and the most rewarding, of my career,” Kain said Friday in a release.

“The goals I set when I assumed this position required a huge commitment from our dancers, staff, board and donor community. The unwavering support I received allowed my dreams to become a reality and I am so grateful.”

The move follows other recent exits from the National Ballet. Earlier this month director of production James Thornley also stepped down from his position after 30 years with the company, but he will continue on as production consultant’s on Kain’s Swan Lake.

In September, Kain announced that principal dancer Greta Hodgkinson would retire in 2020 after a career spanning 30 years.

Hodgkinson’s final roles will include upcoming performances in Giselle and The Nutcracker.

Under Kain’s tenure, the National Ballet embarked on 29 Canadian tours and 23 international tours, including a first-ever tour to Moscow and St. Petersburg where it was embraced by audiences and critics, and a visit to Paris for their first appearance in 45 years.

Kain also commissioned, co-commissioned and co-produced 24 new works from international and Canadian choreographers, received worldwide acclaim for the calibre of dancing and achieved 10 years of operating surpluses and a $104-million fundraising campaign.

“Karen Kain is an extraordinary artist and an extraordinary leader,” Wright said.

“The National Ballet is now in demand around the world, receiving accolades from audiences and critics in Moscow, New York and Paris to name just a few.”

READ MORE: Ten-year-old B.C. dancer invited to Royal Winnipeg Ballet summer program

Kain’s distinguished dance career included a close creative partnership with Rudolf Nureyev and international guest performances with Paris Opera Ballet, Roland Petit’s Le Ballet de Marseille, The Bolshoi Ballet, London Festival Ballet and The Hamburg Ballet.

Earlier this year, Kain was the first Canadian to be honoured with the prestigious Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award, the highest honour given by the Royal Academy of Dance.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Crews and volunteers responded to a four-hectare wildfire on the lower half of the Aqam community lands near Cranbrook on Friday afternoon. Trevor Crawley photo.
Wildfire season gets early start in the East Kootenay

Fire crews, volunteers respond to two local wildfires, while prescribed burns turn weekend skies smoky

A conceptual image of a multi-family housing development envisioned by Abugov Kaspar Architects to go on a lot in Castle Mountain in Fernie. (Image courtesy of City of Fernie)
City defers zoning decision

A zoning change would permit a development with 15 percent rental tenure residences in Castle Mountain

Rob and Jennifer King run Sasquatch Cyclery out of their garage. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)
‘Hop on it now’: Parts crunch hits cycling

New bikes are hard to get and used bikes are selling at a premium this year

Michel-Natal-Sparwood Heritage Society runs a museum that was established to display the heritage of the "no-longer towns" of Michel and Natal, and the Elk Valley Area. Photo Submitted/Monica Beranek, Artifact Curator
Sparwood Museum requests a leg up to stay open full-time

The museum is volunteer-run, but needs a full-time employee to be able to snag much-needed grants

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

Carver Ken Sheen had almost finished work on a large cowboy carving commissioned by the City of Williams Lake to replace the original overlooking the Stampede Grounds when fire broke out Friday, April 18 at his property between Williams Lake and Quesnel. (Pine River Carving Facebook photos)
Cow boss statue destined for Williams Lake Stampede Grounds goes up in flames

Carver Ken Sheen lost the statue, all his tools and his shop in the blaze

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains. (Hansard TV)
B.C. moves to protect employee pay for COVID-19 vaccination

Most won’t need to take time off work, labour minister says

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

New figures show Canadian housing prices outpacing those in other developed countries. (Black Press Media file photo)
Canadian housing prices fastest rising in the world

Relative to 2000, housing prices have risen by a factor of more than 2.5

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
80-million-year-old turtle find on B.C. river exciting fossil hunters

Remains of two-foot creature of undetermined species will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Joudelie King wants to get out and live life to the fullest, but there are places she can’t go because they don’t meet her accessibility needs. (submitted photo)
New online tool provides accessibility map for people with disabilities

The myCommunity BC map provides accessibility info for nearly 1,000 locations in the province

British Columbia’s provincial flag flies in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Wildfire fanned by winds near Merritt prompts evacuation alert

BC Wildfire Service says the suspected human-caused blaze was fanned by winds

Most Read