2020/21 Season:

  • New Full-Length Ballet by Wayne McGregor Inspired by Margaret Atwood

  • North American Premiere of Victoria

  • Tour to London

  • San Francisco Ballet Guest Company

February 13, 2020… Karen Kain, Artistic Director of The National Ballet of Canada, today unveiled the 2020/21 season which builds on the company’s commitment to create new works, attract the best artists in the world and showcase the company on the international stage. The season features the world premiere of MADDADDAM, a new full-length ballet by the multi-award-winning choreographer Wayne McGregor in collaboration with internationally renowned writer Margaret Atwood. Additional highlights include the North American premiere of Victoria, created by acclaimed choreographer Cathy Marston, and a guest appearance by San Francisco Ballet in its Toronto debut. The National Ballet will tour to London and Ottawa. #2021SeasonNBC

I am thrilled that the inimitable Wayne McGregor will create a new full-length ballet in the 2020/21 season. His new work, MADDADDAM, is based on the writing of Margaret Atwood and is firmly rooted in the Canadian landscape. I have long admired Wayne as he continually pushes boundaries of creativity and inspires audiences around the world with his intelligent, visually stunning and highly physical work. This is our third co-production with The Royal Ballet and they will present MADDADDAM in London in 2022,” said Ms. Kain. “I am also pleased to welcome Cathy Marston to the National Ballet for the first time to stage the North American premiere of her acclaimed ballet, Victoria. Cathy is a gifted storyteller whose narrative ballets often feature strong female characters. I know our dancers will relish delving into her dramatic roles. I am incredibly proud that the National Ballet continues to present new work that inspires and challenges our audiences and our dancers. It is a true honour to end my tenure as Artistic Director with this exciting season.

The 2020/21 season is bittersweet as it marks Artistic Director Karen Kain’s final season for The National Ballet of Canada. How fitting that it begins with the company’s first appearance at London’s historic Royal Opera House after 41 years with The Sleeping Beauty, a ballet with such deep significance in the history of the National Ballet and Karen’s career,” said Barry Hughson, Executive Director. “This rich and varied season reflects Karen’s commitment to the lifeblood of new work, working with the world’s greatest dance artists and showcasing the company’s artistry at home and on the international stage. It is my great pleasure to partner her on this journey.

The National Ballet of Canada’s 2020/21 Season

Fall Season

Toronto Debut 
San Francisco Ballet, November 11 – 15, 2020

The 2020/21 season opens with guest company San Francisco Ballet making its first appearance in Toronto. The world-renowned company will perform three acclaimed works, all from influential choreographers of today. Justin Peck’s Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes offers a fresh interpretation of Aaron Copland’s famous ballet score, dropping the western influences in favour of pure movement. Bound To by Christopher Wheeldon, the celebrated choreographer of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Winter’s Tale, is a poetic work that explores one of the great paradoxes of modern life – how technology and cell phones isolate and distract us rather than foster social interaction. Alexei Ratmansky’s The Seasons is an homage to the seasons with spirited dancing and whimsical, symbolic characters.

World Premiere 
MADDADDAM, A Ballet by Wayne McGregor, November 21 – 29, 2020

In a collaboration of international significance, Wayne McGregor, choreographer of Chroma and Genus, joins forces with one of the world’s greatest living writers, Margaret Atwood, to create MADDADDAM, a brand new full-length work co-produced and commissioned by The National Ballet of Canada and The Royal Ballet in London. McGregor’s new ballet is based on Atwood’s internationally celebrated trilogy, Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood and MaddAddam. Themes of extinction and invention, hubris and humanity are spliced together with aspects of Atwood’s activism and her deep connection to the Canadian landscape, past and present. MADDADDAM brings together the same creative team behind McGregor’s landmark 2015 ballet Woolf Works, inspired by the work of Virginia Woolf, including influential composer Max Richter, lighting designer Lucy Carter, design firm We Not I, film artist Ravi Deepres and dramaturg Uzma Hameed. MADDADDAM will have its UK premiere in 2022.

Holiday Season

25 Magical Years 
The Nutcracker, December 10 – January 2, 2021

Created in 1995 by James Kudelka, The Nutcracker is a holiday favourite that has enchanted over 1.2 million children and adults alike over the past 25 years. Set in rural 19th century Russia, the ballet follows siblings Misha and Marie on a dreamy adventure with their friend Peter/The Nutcracker from their family home to the glittering winter realm of the Snow Queen and finally, the golden palace of the Sugar Plum Fairy. With glorious sets and costumes by Santo Loquasto and lighting by Jennifer Tipton, the ballet is a feast for both the senses and the imagination.

Winter Season

A Streetcar Named Desire, March 3 – 7, 2021 

Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway play, A Streetcar Named Desire, is the focus of John Neumeier’s ballet. The story follows the demise of Blanche DuBois, a southern belle transplanted into a hostile, impoverished landscape she is unable to accept. Forgoing chronology to delve deep inside the mind of the play’s tortured heroine, Neumeier starts where the play ends, with Blanche alone and staring blankly from her bed in an asylum. The score changes dramatically between the ballet’s two acts, from Sergei Prokofiev’s reflective Visions Fugitives in the first act to the postmodern music of Alfred Schnittke in the second, reflecting the breakdown of Blanche’s fragile psyche.

March Break
Swan Lake, March 13 – 20, 2021

Artistic Director Karen Kain adds to her long list of achievements with her new staging of Swan Lake, created in honour of her 50th anniversary with The National Ballet of Canada. This fresh and vibrant staging draws inspiration from Erik Bruhn’s landmark production. Led by an all-female creative team, Swan Lake features fantastical sets and costumes by the renowned designer Gabriela Týlešová and evocative lighting by acclaimed designer Bonnie Beecher. Kain’s adaptation rediscovers the romance and psychological power of Swan Lake as Prince Siegfried and the white swan Odette fall in love in the shadow of Rothbart’s curse. The new production makes its world premiere in June 2020.

Frame by Frame, March 24 – 28, 2021

With the creation of Frame by Frame in 2018, The National Ballet of Canada became the first classical ballet company to collaborate with the inspired Canadian playwright, director and actor, Robert Lepage. Co-created by choreographer and Principal Dancer Guillaume Côté, Frame by Frame is an inventive multidisciplinary work that pays homage to pioneering animator Norman McLaren. McLaren’s work influenced filmmakers worldwide and set new standards for animation during his illustrious career with the National Film Board of Canada. Frame by Frame opens a window into his creative and personal worlds through the use of striking visuals and beautiful movement.

Summer Season

North American Premiere 
Victoria, June 5 – 12, 2021 

Victoria, created by rising star of contemporary ballet Cathy Marston, makes its North American premiere. The full-length story ballet shines the spotlight on British monarch Queen Victoria told through the eyes of her youngest daughter and closest confidante, Princess Beatrice. Famously, Beatrice heavily edited and maintained Victoria’s diaries before they were published and Marston weaves this mother/daughter relationship into the narrative of Victoria’s long reign. Marston has created more than 50 dance works steeped in history, biography and other narrative forms, many of them focused on strong female characters. Victoria, a co-production with Northern Ballet, drew praise at its 2019 world premiere in Leeds and on tour across the UK, including performances at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London. Marston co-wrote the scenario for Victoria with Uzma Hameed, an accomplished writer, director and dramaturg for theatre and dance who works extensively with choreographer Wayne McGregor. Victoria features designs by Steffen Aarfing, an original, commissioned score from composer and pianist Philip Feeney and lighting by Alastair West.

Balanchine & Tchaikovsky, June 18 – 24, 2021 

George Balanchine set some of his most beautiful and compelling works to the music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, returning to the composer many times throughout his career. This programme revives three Balanchine ballets set to Tchaikovsky, each a visualization of music in movement. An iconic Balanchine work, Serenade was his first original ballet in the US and features Tchaikovsky’s beautiful Serenade for Strings in C, Op.48. Mozartiana, the last major work that Balanchine created before his death, is a graceful and intensely musical ballet for seven dancers set to Tchaikovsky’s Suite No. 4. Diamonds is the final section of Balanchine’s triptych Jewels. Featuring Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 3 in D Major, Op.29, elegant choreography and gorgeous white costumes, Diamonds translates Tchaikovsky’s music into refined ballet technique.


The Sleeping Beauty, Royal Opera House, London, UK, July 28 – August 1, 2020 

The National Ballet will tour to the historic Royal Opera House in London, UK for the first time in 41 years. The company will perform one of its most treasured classics, The Sleeping Beauty from July 28 – August 1, 2020 for seven performances. Ms. Kain’s 50th anniversary with the company culminates in this tour to London. An opening night gala evening will be hosted by the UK Friends of The National Ballet of Canada.

Swan Lake, National Arts Centre, Ottawa, February 4 – 6, 2021 

Swan Lake will tour to the National Arts Centre in Ottawa for the company’s annual appearance.


The National Ballet of Canada is committed to developing Canadian choreographic talent and supporting Toronto’s local dance community through CreativAction. Launched in 2019/20, the programme provides independent choreographers and dancers access to the National Ballet’s facilities through three core activities: Choreographic Workshop, Open Space and Micro-Commissions.

Choreographic Workshop 

The Choreographic Workshop is a platform that provides National Ballet dancers and independent choreographers the opportunity to create works in collaboration with the company’s artists, music and production staff, within the National Ballet’s facilities. In 2019/20, a total of 7 works were developed through the Choreographic Workshop.

Open Space

To date, the National Ballet has provided over 2,300 hours of studio space at The Walter Carsen Centre, free of charge, to 47 independent choreographers from a wide variety of dance genres and disciplines, with a total of 131 participants. In the 2020/21 season, the National Ballet is committed to donating another 1,200 hours of studio space.


Micro-commissions are small-scale, flexible and innovative dance works that can be presented in a wide variety of contexts. Since the programme was launched, the National Ballet has commissioned 5 new small-scale works. The pieces that have been created have been performed in varied venues. Choreographer Meryem Aloui’s micro-commission was performed at Union Station’s West Wing in 2019 in partnership with Fall For Dance North. Kunal Ranchod’s new piece, also created in 2019, has been commissioned for further development by Ballet Kelowna, to premiere in Kelowna on February 14, 2020. The remaining three micro-commissions will be created later this spring.

Information About CreativAction >

Education and Community Engagement

The National Ballet of Canada is dedicated to making ballet accessible. Through school programmes, family events and fitness classes, the company reaches nearly 100,000 people annually. These programmes are designed to foster a love of dance and a deeper understanding of ballet while keeping arts vital in our communities.

Relaxed Performance 

In 2020/21, the National Ballet will host its first-ever main stage relaxed performance. This performance is intended to be sensitive to and welcoming for neurodiverse audiences, including patrons on the autism spectrum, those with sensory and communication disorders, people with learning disabilities and for those who want a more relaxed performance experience. For the past decade, the National Ballet has offered relaxed performances of YOU dance and this first main stage relaxed performance will take place at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. More details to come.

YOU dance 

YOU dance, the company’s flagship community engagement programme, has reached more than 270,000 students in the Greater Toronto Area and across Canada since its creation in 2007. The programme will continue to reach students across Canada through workshops, performances, residencies and an annual live stream and is anticipated to reach over 40,000 students in 2020/21.

Share the Magic 

The National Ballet’s Share the Magic programme provides free access to youth and families who could not otherwise attend a ballet performance. Last season, Share the Magic brought the joy of dance to 3,200 audience members at no cost and will host 4,500 people next season.

In Studio 

The National Ballet’s dance and fitness programme provides a wide range of classes, from ballet, Pilates and contemporary dance to 55+ classes and dance intensives for both adults and children. For beginners to advance level students, In Studio offers classes for everyone, taught by National Ballet artists as well as faculty from various backgrounds. Over 116,000 people have participated in classes at In Studio.

Information About Additional Programming >

2020/21 Season Information >

2020/21 Season Brochure >

Website: national.ballet.ca

Venue: Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen Street West, Toronto

Box Office: The box office is located at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (145 Queen Street West) or call 416 (toll free 1 866) 345 9595. Tickets can also be purchased online at national.ballet.ca