Celia Franca was the founder of The National Ballet of Canada in 1951 and its Artistic Director for 24 years. I first met Celia Franca in the early 60’s. I had been chosen among my classmates at the National Ballet School to perform in the new production of the Nutcracker Suite. She was an amazing woman, totally in control of everything. Yes, I feared her. I’ll never forget the Saturday morning I walked into rehearsal after spending a night in the hospital due to having burned my hand on an old school stove the day before. We had been making Christmas candles. So there I was, at rehearsal, with a bandage on my hand that looked more like a boxing glove than anything else. Ms Franca was horrified, but rather than call in an understudy, and leave me in the wings, she called in the costume mistress who materialized gloves, to be worn by all the girl children for the schedule of performances. She was feared, but she was so compassionate too.
” In 1967 Miss Franca was invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada and in 1985 was made a Companion of the Order of Canada. In 1987 she received the St. George’s Society of Toronto Award and that same year was among the first to be honoured with the Order of Ontario. She served as a member of the board of governors of York University, the board of directors of the Canada Council and the Board of Directors of the Canada Dance Festival Society.”