There probably aren't enough adjectives to fully describe Karen Kain when she dances the ballet they all pale next to the reality of what she does.
Kain began her ballet training at the age of six. She had poise, posture, discipline and grace beyond her years. At the age of eight, she saw a performance of "Giselle" danced by Celia France, and she knew at that moment that she would be a ballerina.
Karen began studying with the national Ballet School at age eleven. Though the school presented a financial strain on her family, she was nonetheless encouraged by them to continue to follow her dream. Betty Oliphant, the legendary mentor who then ran the school, was sure from the beginning that Kain would have a bright future as a dancer. In 1969, at 18, Kain joined the National Ballet of Canada, under Celia France; the woman who had inspired the dream was now a contemporary. It only took Karen Kain one year to be promoted to principle dancer. The dream was unfolding.
In 1971, Karen danced with Frank Augustyn and another chapter in Canadian dance was written. The pair mesmerized not only the country, but also the world, winning first prize for the best pas de deux at the Moscow International Ballet Competition in 1973. And even though it was through her partnership with the Soviet defecter, Russian-born Rudolph Nureyev that Kain gained the most international accolades, performing in Vienna, London and Australia, it was the partnership with Augustyn that remains at the heart of Canada's love affair with Kain.
Karen Kain's awards and achievements are many. She has received honorary degrees from the University of Toronto, McMaster University, Trent University and York University. She was awarded the Order of Canada in 1976. No less than three documentaries have been made about her, and there was also an Andy Warhol portrait of her commissioned.
Though she officially retired from the National Ballet in 1997, Kain continues to dance to packed houses and unceasing applause the world over. Kain is "greatly honoured to be included in Canada's Walk of Fame, and hopes that this recognition will further inspire young dancers to follow in my footsteps."
Leave a Comment