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The Pursuit of Perfection

A Life of Celia Franca

by Carol Bishop-Gwyn

Pursuit of Perfection, The

ISBN: 9781770862258

Format: Trade Paperback
Size: 6" x 9"


BIO005000 BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Entertainment & Performing Arts

BIO002000 BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Cultural Heritage


Price: $22.95


Publication Date: October 1, 2011



Born into a working-class family in 1921, Celia Franca, though a capable dancer, was an unlikely candidate for ballet greatness. But Celia possessed a drive that was almost unrivalled, and went on to become one of the most important figures in Canadian ballet in the twentieth century.


Franca grew up in London, England, and started dancing when she was four, ultimately becoming a star performer with the Sadler's Wells Ballet.


When a group from Toronto was hopeful of establishing a major ballet, they brought Celia across the Atlantic to be the founder. Celia went on to build the company, the National Ballet of Canada, into a major cultural force in Canada.


Commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the National Ballet of Canada, The Pursuit of Perfection tells of the battles, the heartbreaks, the successes, and the accolades Celia and the Ballet shared.

Shortlisted, 2012 Governor General's Literary Award (Non-fiction)

Shortlisted, 2013 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non Fiction

Commended, 2012 Globe and Mail Top 100


“Bishop-Gwyn’s book goes a long way to give us a much fuller and more sympathetic picture of Celia Franca than we have ever had before, without minimizing the character flaws … She has been lucky to have a biographer who does her justice and reminds those of us who needed reminding how great was the debt owed to her.”


“This nuanced portrait … makes this ballet biography a must-read … both superbly insightful and judiciously written.”
The Globe and Mail


“You do not have to be a ballet fan to enjoy The Pursuit of Perfection, which overflows with triumphs and tragedies both onstage and off. Franca is such a unique and fascinating character it is difficult at times to remember the book is a thoroughly researched biography and not a work of fiction.”
Quill & Quire


“Wonderful … Carol Bishop-Gwyn brings the life of Celia Franca with both the positive and negative that breeds true passion. In the end her book gives readers the truth of what it took to make an inspirational woman become a true Canadian icon.”

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