Mavis Staines | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Mavis Staines

Mavis Avril Staines, dancer, teacher and director (b near Cowansville, Qué 9 April 1954).

Staines, Mavis

Mavis Avril Staines, dancer, teacher and director (b near Cowansville, Qué 9 April 1954). As artistic director of Canada's largest professional ballet training institution, Staines has used her considerable influence and vision to shape the NATIONAL BALLET SCHOOL to serve the increasingly varied requirements of today's dancers, performing companies and choreographers. Staines studied BALLET privately with teachers in Ottawa and Vancouver before entering the National Ballet School in 1967. Having graduated with top honours in 1972, Staines continued to study at the School and, with support from the CANADA COUNCIL, in Paris and London.

She joined the NATIONAL BALLET OF CANADA in 1973 and was soon promoted to first soloist with a diverse repertoire of roles. She joined the Dutch National Ballet in 1978 but was forced to retire from dancing in 1981 because of a severe leg injury. Returning to Canada, she took the National Ballet School's teaching training program and joined the staff in 1982. In 1984, the school's founder, Betty OLIPHANT, chose Staines to train as her successor with the title of Associate Artistic Director. She became sole artistic director when Oliphant retired in 1989.

Since then, Staines has instigated a systematic review of the school's training program and initiated changes designed to strengthen and expand the quality and range of instruction. This has included the hiring of a distinguished teacher of modern dance, Peggy BAKER, and the incorporation of programs designed to improve young dancers' overall physical conditioning and health. Staines has been a regular juror at the annual Prix de Lausanne, an international competition in Switzerland for young dancers, and has served on the Dance Advisory Committee of the Canada Council.