Miss O: my life in dance
In London in the late twenties and thirties, Betty studied ballet with Tamara Karsavina, Marie Rambert and Margaret Saul. At a very early age her schooling was sacrificed to dance training, which extended far beyond ballet to include stage, tap, ballroom and acrobatics. Teaching and dancing professionally at the age of thirteen, she opened her own school at the age of seventeen above Twinings Tea Emporium. Leaving France under the looming shadow of war, she worked during the war as an ambulance diver, as a choreographer of pantomimes, and finally for The Blue Pencils, a British army touring revue. At war's end, Betty came to Canada as a war bride for the benefit of her young children, one of whom was suffering from tuberculosis of the spine. In Toronto, she quickly began teaching, choreographing for the opera and for pantomimes with Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster. When Celia Franca established the National Ballet of Canada, Betty was Ballet Mistress for eight years and later served the company asAssociate Artistic Director. Her own school became the core of the National Ballet School, founded in 1959 to ensure that future students would receive the best dance training without sacrificing their academic schooling. She succeeded beyond anyone's expectations. The graduates of the National Ballet School now light up stages around the world. Teaching was always her first love, but her talents extended to leadership, fundraising, governmental and corporate relations.
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