Celia Franca: Tour De Force


“Celia Franca: Tour de Force” is a revealing portrait of the indomitable Artistic Director who founded the internationally respected National Ballet of Canada, leaving her native England in 1951 just 3 months before her 30th birthday.  

A riveting raconteur, Miss Franca tells her tales of pluck, starting as a chorus girl at age 14, and luck, when one year later she was cast by Antony Tudor in Lilac Garden.  A non-conformist in London’s ballet hierarchy, Celia swiftly gained recognition as a dramatic dancer and innovator, choreographing Khadra for Ninette de Valois’ Sadlers Wells Ballet and creating a camera-first in 1949 with the risqué Salomé for the BBC. 

Invited to Canada in 1950 to do a ‘feasibility study’, Celia Franca said, “I think you need me here!” She responded to pressure from Canadian dancers craving careers in their own country, by envisioning a classical ballet company and school of the first rank, braving the incessant onslaughts with non-stop “selling and begging”.  Her story of won wars and lost battles, reveals an unorthodox, surprisingly hilarious personality. 

Highlighting the film is never-before-seen footage shot by the Company’s first Premier Danseur, David Adams, with candid tales from decades of dance’s luminaries, including Karen Kain.  Director/Narrator Veronica Tennant’s career with The National Ballet of Canada was launched when cast by Celia Franca as Juliet.