Oliphant’s Offspring

Betty Oliphant’s death this past week leaves a hole in the Canadian ballet scene, says William Littler, but her lasting mark on the genre has already been guaranteed in the form of her countless disciples, her professional children. She revolutionized professional ballet training, exposing her students to the widest possible variety of experiences, both dance-related and not. Denied many of the most basic aspects of a dancer’s development in her own youth, she was determined to turn out the world’s most well-rounded and intelligent dancers. “Biologically speaking, Betty Oliphant had no sons — she had two daughters. But in dance terms, her many children belong to both sexes and number among the most remarkable Canada has produced.”