In Carol Bishop-Gwyn’s book The Pursuit of Perfection: A Life of Celia Franca readers are able to grasp the true force of how the National Ballet of Canada came to be an international leader in the world of dance.
This wonderful book is on the Charles Taylor Prize Short List to be decided in March 2013.
Celia Franca’s life is a testament of what a person can accomplish when they have a goal. She overcame cultural barriers by creating a persona that gave little clues to her life before she became a star.
Dance was Franca’s passion before she even attended school. While never a prima ballerina she was able to capture the audience’s attention while on stage.
Born in 1921 in London to Jewish Polish immigrants Franca was an unlikely person to become a dancer. Her conviction to her passion of dance led her to the stage of war-torn London and then across the Atlantic in 1951 to Toronto where she started a dance company.
That conviction also embodied a central core of control that Franca was famous for. Her ideals were not to be dismissed by those in her path. She was a great friend to those who were of personal use but was known to drop those friends if their use wore out like a pancake.
The National Ballet of Canada was Franca’s passion for most of her life. The story of how the company rose from nothing to being considered Canada’s best flows like a melody with all of the drama, back stabbing and passion that is the world of ballet from the pages of The Pursuit of Perfection.
During a phone interview author Carol Bishop-Gwyn said that her motivation for writing The Pursuit of Perfection was that Franca is a cultural icon and it was apparent that it would be a good thing to have her story told.
Researching Franca’s past was made easier by the amount of papers she donated to the Dance Collection Danse said Bishop-Gwyn who also delved into interview tapes from the late Frank Rasky. Rasky died before finishing finishing his biography of Franca. One incredible stroke of luck came when Bishop-Gwyn found a close friend of Franca’s that had thought to be deceased. This friend still had letters from Franca written during the war.
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