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During his career as a professional ballet dancer, David Adams was one of Canada's brightest stars. He studied ballet in Winnipeg with Gweneth Lloyd and Betty Farrally before he joined their company, the Winnipeg Ballet (later renamed the Royal Winnipeg Ballet). In 1946, while still a teenager, he joined the Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet (later renamed the Birmingham Royal Ballet) in England and later danced with the Metropolitan Ballet.
In 1949, Adams returned to Canada. His Theorem A, which he created in 1950, was showcased at the third Canadian Ballet Festival. Adams became a charter member of the National Ballet of Canada in 1951. He choreographed several works for the fledgling company, and he and his wife, ballerina Lois Smith, quickly became Canada's golden couple of dance. In 1956, they starred in Swan Lake, the first Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) television production of a National Ballet of Canada performance.
In 1961, Adams left the National Ballet of Canada and moved to England where he danced with the London Festival Ballet. Throughout most of the 1970s, he was a soloist with the Royal Ballet. He ended his performance career with the Alberta Ballet in 1978.
In addition to his achievements as a dancer, Adams was also a talented teacher. From 1974 until 1977, he taught at the Royal Ballet School. During the 1980s, he was the ballet master for the Alberta Ballet company and taught at Grant MacEwan Community College in Edmonton, Alberta, as well as at numerous other institutions. He was the artistic director of the Edmonton Festival Ballet from 1994 until 1996.
In 2004, Adams was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Doob, Penelope Reed. "David Adams." Encyclopedia of Theatre Dance in Canada/Encyclopédie de la Danse théâtrale au Canada. Ed. Susan Macpherson. Toronto: Dance Collection Danse Press/es, 2000: 13-15.