Women as well as men in all ages and in all places have danced on the earth, danced the life dance, danced joy, danced grief, danced despair and danced hope. Literally danced all these and more, and danced them figuratively and metaphorically by their very lives.”

-Margaret Laurence

Veronica Tennant

2004 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Dance)

As celebrated Prima Ballerina with The National Ballet of Canada, Veronica Tennant won hearts and accolades as a dancer of extraordinary versatility and dramatic power.Since her farewell performance in 1989, she continues to distinguish herself as an award-winning television producer, director, writer, and performer.

Born in London, England, Veronica began dancing at the age of four. After arriving in Canada, she studied with Betty Oliphant and at eighteen was cast by Celia Franca as Juliet for her debut with the National Ballet of Canada as Principal Dancer. For 25 years, she danced on the international stage with the greatest male dancers of our time, including Erik Bruhn, Rudolf Nureyev, and Mikhail Baryshnikov, earning acclaim in every major classical role as well as having ballets choreographed for her unique talents.

Demonstrating the extraordinary imagination and determination that fuelled her dancing, she moved swiftly to the forefront of another career the challenging world of arts television. Her first three CBC TV specials – Salute to Dancers For Life/Danser pour la vie, Margie Gillis: Wild Hearts in Strange Timesand Karen Kain: Dancing In The Moment, each won awards and critical acclaim, with the latter receiving an International Emmy Award (1999).

Since forming Veronica Tennant Productions in 1997, she has conceived, produced and directed a significant body of work as an independent filmmaker, including The Dancers' Story: The National Ballet of Canada, Trio and Northern Light. Her most recent films are a pairing of SwanS, celebrating Evelyn Hart and Rex Harrington, and Shadow Pleasures, a quintet of dance-dramas, written and narrated by Michael Ondaatje.

A gifted communicator, Veronica Tennant has built an extensive reputation as narrator, actress, and lecturer. She headlined On the Town at the Shaw Festival and in 1997performed with the late Timothy Findley in the title role of The Piano Man's Daughter & Others. She is the recipient of four honorary doctorates, has written two books for young people, and is Canada's ambassador to UNICEF. She was the first dancer to be appointed as Officer to the Order of Canada (1975) and was elevated this year to Companion, the Order's highest honour.She served on the inaugural board of the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards, from 1992 to 1995, and was the chosen presenter for the award to Celia Franca and Karen Kain.She hosted the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Gala in 1999 and, in fact, produced the entire show in 2000.

A monumental talent, with passionate commitment to all aspects of the performing arts, Veronica Tennant truly epitomizes the adage that a true artist's creative life knows no bounds.