Strength behind the Grace: The Health and Fitness of Ballet

2016, Culture, National Ballet of Canada, Temporary Exhibit
ballet, dance, event photos, fitness, installation photos, performance, sports, University of Toronto
About This Project

Date: April 6 – September 2016

Partner: National Ballet of Canada

Venue: Hart House – map

Project Members: Victoria Côté, Leena Kilback, Jennifer Maxwell, and MD Salzberg


Strength behind the Grace is a visual-based exhibition that looks at the health and fitness practices of professional ballet dancers. The exhibition also explores how ballet has inspired community dance initiatives such as Sharing Dance at Canada’s National Ballet School.


This exhibition is intended for members of the University of Toronto’s art, culture, and theatre community. The exhibition will also interest attendees of Hart House Theatre performances, open houses, and special events.


The exhibition is located in the Nona Macdonald Heaslip Walkway at Hart House Theatre on the University of Toronto’s St. George campus.


Strength behind the Grace was produced in partnership with Theatre Museum Canada (TMC) and Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS). TMC provided a venue for the exhibition at Hart House Theatre, as well installation materials, planning and covering the cost of the opening reception, and text editing support. From NBS, the exhibition received research content from student interview, image content, and pointe shoes – all of which was used in the final design and display of the exhibition.


Planning the Strength behind the Grace project began in August/September 2015. The planning and research process took four months. At the beginning of January 2016, we began soliciting image content, as well as writing and editing our text. The production of our panels took two months starting in February. Installation took one afternoon on March 31st. The exhibition opened on April 6th and will close in September.


Strength behind the Grace included 16 shadowbox panels of varying sizes. Each of these panels was accompanied with text, images, and infographics. Strength behind the Grace also included an audiovisual station where visitors can watch and learn choreography for Sharing Dance 2016, presented by Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS). Other interpretive elements included two pairs of pointe shoes. Our text included five distinctive topics on the themes of ballet as art or sport, food and nutrition, fitness and wellness, Sharing Dance at NBS, and dance as physical exercise. The interpretive plan of the exhibition is unstructured which allows visitors to engage with the panels in the order and intensity of their choosing.


Much of our marketing campaign was provided through social media. This exhibition had a Facebook and Instagram page, a Twitter feed, and a Pinterest board. New posts were added several days a week and included messages on the themes of ballet, fitness, and nutrition.


The exhibition opening reception was attended approximately 50 visitors. Over its 6-month run, visitor attendance and feedback will be monitored through Hart House Theatre ticket sales and visitor responses in our comment book.


We would like to thank our partners, Theatre Museum Canada and Canada’s National Ballet School; without their contribution and support, this exhibition would not have been made possible. Thank you to the Faculty of Information, and the professors and students within the Museum Studies program who encouraged and provided us the knowledge and skills to form this exhibition from a fragmented idea into what it has become. Thanks to all of our financial supporters whose donations were greatly appreciated.