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National Ballet of Canada choreographic associate and principal dancer Guillaume Côté leads artists in a rehearsal for Le Petit Prince.AARON VINCENT ELKAIM

The donors: Emmanuelle Gattuso and Allan Slaight

The gift: $2-million

The cause: National Ballet of Canada

The reason: To fund a production of Le Petit Prince

Emmanuelle Gattuso has loved ballet ever since she was a six-year-old girl trying to learn how to pirouette.

Her passion for dance has continued throughout her life and a few years ago, Ms. Gattuso and her husband, former broadcast executive Allan Slaight, became sponsors of Guillaume Côté, the National Ballet's choreographic associate and principal dancer. This year the couple went further, donating $2-million to help the ballet put on a production of Le Petit Prince led by Mr. Côté.

Ms. Gattuso is a huge fan of Mr. Côté's, having watched him dance in Canada and Europe. And she was eager to help him put on a new production, which will open next year.

"I was very excited when I heard Guillaume was going to do the choreography," she said from the family's home in Toronto.

The ballet is just one of the many charities the couple has supported through their private foundation. Other gifts have included $50-million to the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto and $5-million to the Art Gallery of Ontario.

But dancing will always hold a special place for Ms. Gattuso, and the National Ballet in particular. "We just love to see people who are so passionate about what they do," she said.

pwaldie@globeandmail.com