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Dancers go toe to toe with Mike Harris

When a journalist addressed Karen Kain as "prima ballerina" in 1974 the dancer quickly corrected him: "I wouldn't go that far." Kain didn't know at the time that she would one day become Canada's most popular dancer. The ballerina from Hamilton went on to draw ovations from international audiences, with performances of "Swan Lake" to the more risqué "Carmen." By the time she retired in 1997 after 27 years as a dancer with the National Ballet, Kain had more than earned the title prima ballerina.

media clip
Rex Harrington, dancer with the National Ballet, delivers two large sacks of protest letters to the office of Ontario Premier Mike Harris.

"The future looks bleak," Harrington says, referring to a $425,000 funding cut to the National Ballet's budget.

Prima ballerina Karen Kain also comes out to protest the cuts. In this CBC Television clip Kain explains just how bleak.

"People will leave. The dancers will leave, the singers will leave and the actors will leave. More than they already have, and this would be terrible for this country," she says.
• In 2001, Celia Franca, founding artistic director of the National Ballet, compared the company's current state to what it was in its infancy. She said: "We started in 1951 under dire circumstances. And 50 years later, the dire circumstances are still here."
• In 1995, total government grants to the National Ballet were about $4.7 million. In 2001, the total had dropped to $3.7 million.

• In 2001, the American Ballet Theatre's budget was $43 million while the National Ballet's was only $15 million.
• Due to funding cuts the company employed only 50 dancers in 2001, down from 70 in 1990.
Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television News
Broadcast Date: Nov. 24, 1995
Guest(s): Rex Harrington, Karen Kain
Reporter: Suhana Meharchand
Duration: 0:50

Last updated: January 24, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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