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Franca, Celia 1921-2007

Franca, Celia 1921-2007


See index for CA sketch: Born June 25, 1921, in London, England; died February 19, 2007, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Choreographer, dancer, educator, and author. Franca was founder of the National Ballet of Canada, as well as the School of Dance in Ottawa. As early as four years old, Franca, who was born Nita Celia Franks, knew she wanted to dance. She attended the Guildhall School of Music in 1925 and the Royal Academy of Dancing in 1932. Her dancing debut came in 1936 with the Ballet Rambert in London, and she was soon given solo parts. Through the 1930s and 1940s, she performed with various groups, including London's Arts Theatre Ballet, Ballet des Trois Arts, the International Ballet, the Metropolitan Ballet, and the Ballet Workshop. With the Sadler's Wells Ballet, which is now the Royal Ballet, Franca was leading dramatic dancer in the early 1940s and also a choreographer and guest artist. In 1950, patrons of the arts in Toronto invited Franca to come to Canada to start a new ballet company. While earning money as a department store clerk, Franca auditioned talent and worked to organize the new company, which had its debut in 1951. She was artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada until 1974, also dancing with the company through the 1950s. In 1959, she founded the National Ballet School in Toronto, and when she retired from the ballet company she opened the School of Dance in Ottawa. Franca wrote about her life with her ballet company in The National Ballet of Canada: A Celebration (1978).



Franca, Celia, and Ken Bell, The National Ballet of Canada: A Celebration, University of Toronto Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1978.


Los Angeles Times, February 24, 2007, p. B11.

New York Times, February 22, 2007, p. A19.

Times (London, England), February 28, 2007, p. 63.

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