Veronica Tennant

(b. 1947)

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(b London, 15 Jan. 1947)

British-born Canadian dancer. She studied at the Cone-Ripman School in London (1952–5) and at the National Ballet School of Canada (with Betty Oliphant, from 1956), joining the National Ballet of Canada in 1965 where she was immediately given the rank of principal as well as the role of Juliet in Cranko's Romeo and Juliet. While lacking an ideal classical physique, Tennant possessed an exceptional dramatic quality and she was rapidly established as the company's lead ballerina, making her debuts as Kitri, Odette-Odile, and Cinderella between 1965 and 1969. She was also the National's first internationally ranked ballerina, touring extensively with the company and leading it during the company's London debut (1972) and its Metropolitan Opera debut (1973). Her partners included Nureyev and Dowell, and she was the first ballerina to partner Baryshnikov following his defection in Toronto in 1974, dancing in a CBC-TV production of Bruhn's La Sylphide. She additionally guested with companies throughout North America and made numerous appearances on Canadian television, including in Romeo and Juliet (1965), the Emmy Award-winning Cinderella (CBC, 1967), and the Emmy Award-winning Sleeping Beauty (CBC/PBS 1972). During her 25 years with the National she danced all the major ballerina repertory and created roles in Petit's Kraanerg (1969), Kudelka's Apples (1974), The Party (1976), Washington Square (1978), All Night Wonder (1981), and Hedda (1982), Swanilda in Bruhn's new staging of Coppélia (1975), in Vesak's Whispers and Darkness (1975), Ditchburn's Mad Shadows (1979), Macdonald's Newcomers (1980), Patsalas's Paranda Criolla (1980), Liebestod (1982), and Canciones (1983), Nebrada's Portrait of Love and Death (1982), David Allan's Etc! (1985), Villanella (1986), Capriccio (1986), Masada (1987), and Botticelli Pictures (1988). Two documentaries were made about her: Veronica Tennant: A Dancer of Distinction (CBC, 1983) and Veronica: Completing the Circle (CBC, 1989). She retired from the stage in 1989; her farewell performance was as Juliet, the role which had brought her to stardom 24 years earlier. Following her retirement, she pursued a career as an actress, television presenter, producer, and director. Officer of the Order of Canada 1975.

Subjects: Dance.

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