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Kain draws acclaim abroad

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.

Princess Margaret was there, and all of London's critics.

"This company has developed impressively," reads The Evening Standard, following a performance of the National Ballet of Canada in London.

In 1975, the company receives media accolades for its 12 performances at London's Coliseum Theatre.

They draw more attention than at their performance in London three years earlier. In this radio clip, the CBC correspondent reads six excellent reviews from the city's critics.

But now the pressure is on for stars Karen Kain and Rudolph Nureyev. Kain says the performance in England will be more difficult this time around: "The first time no one knew what to expect ... we have to be better than we were last time."
• Karen Kain first danced with Russian star Rudolph Nureyev in 1972 in Swan Lake.
• In 1973, Kain and Canadian dancer Frank Augustyn received international acclaim after winning best pas de deux at the Moscow International Ballet Competition.

• A pas de deux is a dance step choreographed for two people. It usually starts and ends with the ballerinas dancing together.

• During a pas de deux there is a solo segment in the middle for each dancer and it's performed in "adagio," meaning slow time.

• Kain and Augustyn were also a couple outside of ballet for eight years. In Augustyn's autobiography he attributes the end of their relationship to being together too much: "We'd work together, dine together, sleep together ... Nothing new came in from outside."

• Augustyn also said Kain began to feel she was developing faster than him as a ballerina and that "she didn't need me any more."

• When Augustyn read the manuscript of his autobiography to Kain, he said she reacted with, "Oh yeah," and "That's true" a lot.

• Besides traditional roles in Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty, Kain also danced several roles created especially for her. These included: Roland Petit's Nana, Ann Ditchburn's Mad Shadows and John Alleyne's Time Out With Lola.
Medium: Radio
Program: Sunday Supplement
Broadcast Date: April 6, 1975
Guest(s): Karen Kain
Reporter: Robert McDonald
Duration: 5:05

Last updated: January 23, 2012

Page consulted on December 5, 2013

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