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Description found in Archives
Fonds consists of
1. Celia Franca collection [graphic material]
2. Celia Franca collection [graphic material] (120-020013-6)
3. Celia Franca Collection [graphic material]
4. Celia Franca fonds [mixed material] (120-020013-6)
5. Celia Franca fonds [mixed material] (120-020079-9)
6. Celia Franca fonds [mixed material] (2007-00596-4)
Place of creation
ca. 2,000 photographs: b&w.
257 drawings: pen and ink, pencil, watercolour.
4 prints: 1 offset lithograph, 2 serigraph, 1 etching.
ca. 600 photographs: colour.
57 photographs: digital scans.
Language of material
Scope and content
Fonds consists of personal papers and National Ballet of Canada files of Celia Franca, including the following series: Personal material; Notes; Notes, notebooks and calendars; Correspondence; Subject files; National Ballet of Canada; National Ballet of Canada: A Celebration; Programmes; Memorabilia; Printed material; Publishing and biographical material; Publicity and clippings; and Honours series, n.d., 1919-2007. The fonds contains photographs including snapshots, portraits, and production shots relating to family, friends, and the career of Celia Franca taken in South Africa, Britain, Europe, China, the United States, and Canada, [ca. 1925]-2005. Also included are National Ballet of Canada posters; costume sketches for Canadian Ballet companies, including the National Ballet of Canada; and set designs for various ballets and a 1953 Gala Performance, 1952-[ca. 1984]. Material received upon her death in 2007 includes accruals to the above-mentioned series as well as book publishing files, material relating to National Ballet costume designer Kay Ambrose, and an Honours series. Also added are a large number of photographic albums and professional, personal and informal photographs.
Conditions of access
Photographs (Acc. No. 1982-256): No restrictions. Various copyright on items less than 50 years old. Copyright expired on items more than 50 years old.
Photographs (Acc. No. 1993-259): Restricted by the Estate of Celia Franca. Various copyright. Credit: Name of photographers / Library and Archives Canada.
Art: Copyright varies.
Textual records The electronic copy of the Finding aid lists containers 1-69. MSS1343 90 (Electronic)
Photographs: See "photographic inventories, indexes, and caption lists arranged by accession number". FA-500 (Paper)
Drawings: Item level description on line. 90 (Electronic)
Creator / Provenance
Biography / Administrative history
Celia Franca was born in London, England, in 1921 and studied dance at the Guildhall School of Music and the Royal Academy of Dancing. She made her debut in London in 1936 and became a soloist with the Ballet Rambert 1936-1938. She was the leading dramatic dancer at Sadler's Wells 1941-1946, a dancer and teacher with Ballet Jooss 1947, and ballet mistress and leading dancer with the Metropolitan Ballet 1947-1949. She choreographed a number of ballets, including Dance of Salomé 1949 and Eve of St. Agnes 1950 for BBC-TV.
In 1950, Celia Franca attended the Canadian Ballet Festival in Montréal at the invitation of a group of Canadians interested in establishing a national ballet company in Canada. She was persuaded to return in 1951 to found and direct the National Ballet of Canada in Toronto. She was a principal dancer with the company until 1959, the year she co-founded the National Ballet School with Betty Oliphant, and its artistic director until 1974. She choreographed a number of ballets for the National Ballet, including versions of The Nutcracker and Cinderella. Under her leadership, the National Ballet developed into an internationally acclaimed ballet company.
After retiring from the National Ballet, Franca settled in Ottawa where her husband, James Morton, was a clarinetist with the National Arts Centre Orchestra. She continued to be active in dance, working as a guest teacher and choreographer with various companies including the Joffrey Ballet in New York and the New Orleans Ballet. She was a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Theatre Ballet of Canada and associated with the School of Dance (Ottawa). She travelled to China in 1978 and 1980 at the invitation of the Chinese government to teach dance. Between 1982 and 1990 she gave lectures and talks on dance at the University of Ottawa.
Franca received many awards and honours in recognition of her contributions to dance in Canada. She was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada in 1967 and was elevated to the rank of Companion in 1985. She was awarded the Molson Prize in 1974. She has received honorary degrees from many Canadian universities, including Mount Allison 1966, Bishop's 1967, University of Toronto 1974, Dalhousie 1976 and York 1976. She was a member of the jury of the 5th International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria 1970 and of the 2nd International Ballet Competition in Moscow 1973. She was a member of the Canada Council 1983-1988.
Celia Franca was the author of a history of the National Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada: a Celebration (1978), featuring the photographs of Canadian photographer Ken Bell. She was the focus of a 2006 film biography entitled "Tour de Force" by former National Ballet principal Veronica Tennant.
Celia Franca died in Ottawa in 2007.
1. Dancers - Canada, 1919-1981
2. National Ballet of Canada, 1956-1981.
3. Choreographers - Canada, 1919-1981
4. National Ballet of Canada: A Celebration 1942-1981.
5. Ballet - Canada, 1919, 1937-1981
6. James Morton, 1977-1980.
7. Ballet - England, 1919, 1937-1981.
8. National Ballet of Canada - Administration, 1954-1981.
9. Dance - Canada.
Other system control no.
Related control no.
1. 1982-107 PIC
2. 1982-256 NPC
3. 1992-0124 MSS
4. 1993-259 DAP
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