Franca, Celia (1921–)

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Franca, Celia (1921–)

British ballerina, choreographer and founder. Born in London, England, June 25, 1921; dau. of a British tailor; studied dance at Guildhall School of Music and Royal Academy of Dancing with Marie Rambert; also studied with Stanislas Idzikowski, Judith Espinosa, and Antony Tudor.

Made debut at 15, performing in The Planets with the Ballet Rambert; as a member of the Ballet des Trois Arts, choreographed her 1st piece, Midas (1939); went on to dance and choreograph with Sadler's Wells, the Metropolitan Ballet, the Ballet Jooss, and other companies; recommended as a founding director of a Canadian classical company by Dame Ninette de Valois (1951), pulled the National Ballet of Canada together in 10 months; remained its director for 24 years, relying on the classics and creating her own ballets when necessary, including Cinderella (1968), which won an Emmy (1970), and several versions of The Nutcracker (1955 and 1964); with Betty Oliphant, founded the National Ballet School (1959). Received the St. George's Society of Toronto award (1987); was among the 1st to be honored with the Order of Ontario.

See also James Neufield, Power to Rise: The Story of The National Ballet of Canada (U. of Toronto Press, 1996); and Women in World History.

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