By Steve Sucato
On July 7, the National Ballet of Canada announced Hope Muir as its new artistic director, following a two-year international search. Muir, who was born in Toronto and is the current artistic director of Charlotte Ballet, succeeds Karen Kain, who stepped down on June 30.
Muir began her dance training at age 3 in the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke. In 1987, at age 15, she moved with her family to England, where she became one of the first students to study at Peter Schaufuss’ London Festival Ballet School (now the English National Ballet School). She went on to dance professionally with English National Ballet, Rambert Dance Company and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.
After her performance career, Muir became an assistant to choreographer and former Rambert artistic director Christopher Bruce and a répétiteur of his dance works. She staged his Rooster for NBoC, and assisted Crystal Pite on the creation of her ballet Emergence at NBoC in 2009. Before taking the reins at Charlotte Ballet in 2017, Muir spent the previous eight years at Scottish Ballet, first as its ballet mistress and then as rehearsal director and assistant artistic director.
The 50-year-old brings all that prior experience, a London accent and her 16-year-old cat, Alfie, back to Toronto to begin her tenure on January 1 for the company’s 70th-anniversary season. Pointe spoke with Muir about her new post at NBoC, as well as bidding farewell to Charlotte Ballet.
Days before you were named as NBoC’s new artistic director, the Toronto Star ran an article speculating on front-runner candidates for the job. You weren’t mentioned, and others have also said you are a surprise choice. Do you feel you were?
Everyone that was mentioned in the article has been in NBoC’s orbit recently and I have not. But I feel I have done all the groundwork for the job, and sometimes it works to your advantage to be the underdog and not to have all that scrutiny and pressure. I was able to go through the process under the radar, which suited me just fine.