Dancing for Canada/Dancing Beyond Canada: The History of the National Ballet of Canada and Royal Winnipeg Ballet's International Tours, 1958-1974

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van Asselt, Nadia
National Ballet of Canada , Royal Winnipeg Ballet , non-state actors , ballet , touring , Canadian cultural diplomacy
This thesis traces the growth of the National Ballet of Canada (NBC) and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) through international ballet exchanges and reveals how foundational they were to the companies’ current reputations. In the mid-twentieth century, the development of Canadian ballet was intertwined with international exchanges because the Canada Council of the Arts viewed national success as synonymous with international success. The National Ballet of Canada and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet developed different ways of being viewed as Canadian while abroad and established themselves as noteworthy cultural institutions. This thesis is also a study of the non-state actors’ role – ballet companies’ personnel, artistic directors, dancers, and media – in producing or furthering diplomatic relations with host countries and how they either upheld or contradicted state interests. Chapter two examines ten years (1958-1968) of negotiations between the NBC and the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes to show how the NBC used Canadian cultural policies and Canada’s national language to attain international tours that focused on fostering the company’s growth. Also, the tour resulted in the NBC building a relationship with Mexico without much help from the government. Chapter three studies the RWB’s engagement with Jamaica for the country’s independence celebrations in 1963 from the perspective of non-state actors – the dancers, media, and private sectors – to understand the motivations in carrying out state interest. Chapter four compares the NBC exchange to Europe in 1972 and the RWB visit to Latin America in 1974. It explores cultural diplomacy policies, Canadian public reactions, and ‘Canadianness.’ Ultimately, this thesis aims to reveal the complex relationship between national identity/governmental interests and artistic development in cultural diplomacy endeavours.
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