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Lucy Potts (1921-2010)

  • Lucy Potts, 1964 / Photo courtesy of Canada's National Ballet School

A cornerstone of Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS), teacher Lucy Potts died on December 21st. Speaking four languages fluently, Potts taught French at NBS from its inception in 1959 until she retired in 1986. She also held the role of academic principal during her career there. She is remembered for taking her male students for a run around the building before class so that they could focus quietly on their studies. She was a key player in the special relationship that developed between NBS and the Bolshoi Ballet, accompanying Betty Oliphant as translator on their first visits to Russia. Originally from Constantinople (Istanbul), her upbringing and education were unusually cosmopolitan; during her school years, she and her mother moved continually between Germany, France and England. Potts settled in the UK in 1938, where she worked as a translator at the international news agency Reuters. In 1941, she married Robert Edmund Kitchener Potts, and in 1952, the couple moved to Toronto with their two children. Her husband died tragically in 1964 at the age of forty-nine. Potts’ volunteer work at the University of Toronto earned her an Arbor Award. Potts’ daughter, Nadia Potts, attended NBS and became a principal dancer with The National Ballet of Canada, and later the director of the dance program at Ryerson University where she continues to teach.

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