Mavis Staines was born in Quebec’s Eastern Townships and received her ballet training at Canada’s National Ballet School.
Upon graduation from NBS in 1972 Staines became a First Soloist with The National Ballet of Canada and then danced with The Dutch National Ballet until an injury cut short her performance career. She subsequently returned to Canada and enrolled in NBS’ Teacher Training Program, joining NBS’ Artistic Faculty in 1982. She was appointed Artistic Director in 1989.
Staines is now devoted to evolving ballet education by building on the best of traditional schooling while ensuring future professional dancers develop the self-awareness and creativity essential to leading dynamic and innovative careers and lives. She also is devoted to NBS’ commitment to bring dance to all members of the community, from aspiring future professionals to those involved in the School’s myriad community programs and beyond.
A highlight of the School’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2009-2010 included the Assemblee Internationale 2009 (AI09), a gathering of 13 of NBS’ international partner schools. At the AI each school presented a work from their existing repertoire, and each school supplied a new work choreographed by a student. The student choreographies were performed by a blended cast of students from each of the schools in attendance. A second AI was held in May, 2013 with a total of 18 schools attending. Additional to this recent AI was a technology component that saw live-streaming of classes and performances, including the final performances of a work itself featuring live-streamed dancers from Amsterdam.
In addition to her accomplishments at NBS, Staines served as juror for the Prix de Lausanne, widely regarded as the world’s premiere ballet competition, from 1993 to 1995, and headed the jury as President in 1998 and 1999. In February 2001, Staines accepted the volunteer position of Artistic President Designate for the Prix de Lausanne and in February 2002, assumed the full responsibilities of Artistic President which she held until February 2008.
In 1998 Staines was a workshop presenter at the IOTPD Conference in The Hague, Holland. In 1999 NBS along with partners in The Hague hosted the first satellite linked dance symposium, with Staines an impassioned advocate for the project. She has since presented regularly at International conferences, most recently in October 2012 in Stockholm.
Over the years Staines also has served in various capacities with a number of dance-related organizations, including: DANCE/USA, Philadelphia, 1994; Dance Advisory Committee, The Canada Council for the Arts; The Dance Community of Educators, Toronto; and Kala Nidhi Fine Arts of Canada, Toronto. In 1998 Staines won the Toronto Arts Award for the Performing Arts. In November 2006, she was named by the Women’s Executive Network as one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100, and in 2008 she was presented an Honorary Doctorate in Humanities from Mount Saint Vincent University. In December 2010, Mavis became a Member of the Order of Canada, in recognition of her commitment to the education and well-being of individuals in the field of dance; and in 2013, she received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of her contributions to the dance community.