Lois Smith, the National Ballet of Canada's first leading ballerina, died in January 2011 at 81. She grew up in Vancouver and couldn't afford to take ballet classes regularly until the age of 15. In spite of her late start, she became a founding member of the National Ballet of Canada in 1951 and starred in the company's U.S. debut at the Pillow two years later. Smith and her then-husband David Adams forged a high-profile partnership that made them known across Canada as "Mr. and Mrs. Ballet". Smith performed all the major classics and was partnered by Erik Bruhn in his Swan Lake
. We're fortunate to have filmed Smith here in Giselle
, The Nutcracker
, and Sleeping Beauty
, all preserved in the Jacob's Pillow Archives. Her performance in Antony Tudor's Lilac Garden
may be seen online on Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive
. She remained with NBC until a chronic injury compelled her to retire at 40. She then opened a Toronto-based school and choreographed for opera and television, returning to British Columbia in 1988. She remained active in the dance community until Alzheimer's disease took its toll.