Former prima ballerina Magdalena Popa is retiring as National Ballet of Canada artistic coach

Former dancer Magdalena Popa, seen in “Giselle,” is retiring as the National Ballet of Canada’s principal artistic coach.

The woman who has been coaching National Ballet of Canada dancers for 40 years is retiring.

Magdalena Popa will retire at the end of the 2021/22 season as principal artistic coach but remain on staff as an artistic adviser.

“Our artists cherish their time in the studio under Magdalena’s guidance, as her depth of knowledge is unparalleled,” artistic director Hope Muir said in a news release.

Romanian-born Popa was a renowned prima ballerina herself, dancing virtually all of the major classical ballets, and performing with the Bolshoi and Kirov ballets, the London Festival Ballet, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, Le Grand Ballet Classique de France and others. She won medals in several international competitions, including the Gold Star at the International Dance Festival in Paris in 1965, and was awarded the Order of the Star of Romania in 2002.

Popa said she came to Canada after seeing many Canadian dancers at the International Ballet Competition in Moscow, including Karen Kain, Frank Augustyn, Evelyn Hart and Kevin Pugh. “I recognized in these dancers a depth of artistry that deeply impressed me and I was honoured to have an opportunity to then work so closely with Karen through to the end of her career onstage,” Popa said, referring to former artistic director Kain.

Others outside Canada will get to see the National Ballet’s dancers for the first time in several years. Earlier this week, the company announced it will tour to New York City March 30 to April 1, 2023, with Crystal Pite’s “Angels’ Atlas,” David Dawson’s “Anima Animus” and Kenneth MacMillan’s “Concerto.”


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