Karen Alexandria Kain, CC (born March 28, 1951 in Hamilton, Ontario) is a retired Canadian ballet dancer, and currently the Artistic Director of the National Ballet of Canada.
Karen Kain's mother enrolled her daughter in ballet training because she believed it would improve her posture, poise, and discipline. Kain began training in 1962 at the age of eleven at the National Ballet School of Canada, where she trained for seven years until upon graduation in 1969, she was invited to join the National Ballet of Canada.
Kain became a principal dancer in 1971, dancing central roles in a wide array of ballets, eventually becoming a well-known dancer in Canada, with the help of legendary dancer Rudolf Nureyev. She worked as a guest artist with Roland Petit's Le Ballet National de Marseilles, the Bolshoi Ballet, the London Festival Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet, the Hamburg Ballet, the Vienna State Opera Ballet, and the Eliot Feld Ballet. Kain is a subject of The Portraits of Andy Warhol, c. 1980.
In 1977 Kain stopped dancing, but resumed again in 1981 with the National Ballet of Canada, where she danced for a further 15 years. In 1996, Kain reunited with Frank Augustyn to appear in her husband Ross Petty's panto production of Robin Hood at Toronto's Elgin Theatre. Kain retired as a professional dancer in 1997.
In 1998, Kain returned to the National Ballet of Canada as part of the senior management team, in the role of artistic associate. She supported artistic director James Kudelka against principal dancer Kimberley Glasco in a wrongful dismissal suit. In 2005, she succeeded Kudelka as artistic director.
Kain was the founding Board President of Canada's Dancer Transition Resource Centrehttp://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0004210. Kain's autobiography, Movement Never Lies, was published in 1994 by McClelland and Stewart.
In 1973, she won silver in the women's competition and another silver for Best pas de Deux (with Frank Augustyn) at the second International Ballet Competition in Moscow.
In 1976, she became an Officer of the Order of Canada and was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1991. She holds honorary degrees from the University of Toronto, York University, McMaster University, Trent University, and the University of British Columbia. In May 1998, the French Government named her an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters. Among Kain's other honours are the Performing Arts Award (1992) and the National Arts Centre Award (1997). In 1996, she became the first Canadian to receive the Cartier Lifetime Achievement Award. The choreographer Marguerite Derricks cited Kain as one of her heroes. in 1989 the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation made a documentary about her, Karen Kain, Prima Ballerina. Kain had an arts based public middle school in Etobicoke named after her (Karen Kain School of the Arts) in 2008.
Kain has been married since 1983 to Ross Petty, a stage and film actor, and producer of theatrical pantomime productions in Canada for over 20 years. Kain's brother, Kevin Kain, is a noted tropical medicine expert based in Toronto, Ontario; she has three younger siblings.
Kain was alluded to in the 2003 movie directed by Denys Arcand, "The Barbarian Invasions" when R my Girard reminisced about his past love affairs.