Photo © Damian Siqueiros
Who is creating what, and why? What is your point of view? What are you saying to your audience, and who are they? What process is being followed or discovered? How is music utilized as landscape, or as conversation with the subject? Are you creating a dance novel or a poem? How do we befriend the mystery of creation? We will explore these questions and more. The multi-faceted beauty of dance and the creation of ritualized form.
Internationally acclaimed modern choreographer/dancer, Margie Gillis has been creating original works for over forty years. Her repertoire now includes more than one hundred pieces, which she performs as solos, duets, and group pieces. Born in Montreal to a family of accomplished athletes, Margie Gillis could not have wished for a better environment in which to develop her talent. Showing a passion for dance early in life, she began ballet and gymnastics lessons at the age of three. In her youth, she trained and rehearsed on her own and later continued her studies with such prominent teachers as May O'Donnell, Linda Rabin, Lynda Raino, and Allan Wayne. Over the years, this charismatic dancer has developed a remarkable personal style.
In 1979, Margie Gillis was invited to teach and give lectures in Maoist China, thus becoming the first artist from the West to introduce modern dance in that country after the Cultural Revolution. Two years later, she founded her own company, the Margie Gillis Dance Foundation with the mission to support and present her artistic work. Her international tours have taken her to Asia, India, Europe, and the Middle East as well as across North and South America. In parallel to her solo work, Margie Gillis collaborates on projects initiated by her peers. She participated in the creation of two of Martha Clarke’s major pieces in which she danced principal roles. She has performed with The Paul Taylor Dance Company in pieces created by her brother, the late dancer/choreographer Christopher Gillis. With Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, she danced the role of Miss Lucy in James Kudelka’s Dracula. She has also been a guest artist with the National Ballet of Canada, Ballet British Columbia and American companies such as Momix and The Bruce Wood Dance Company. She has collaborated with many other important artists in the world of dance, most notably with John Butler, Paul-André Fortier, Pauline Koner, Peggy Baker, Robbie LaFosse, Joao Mauricio, Tedd Robinson, Rina Schenfeld, Paola Styron, Rex Harrington, Risa Steinberg, Veronica Tennant and Emily Molnar. In Canada, she has shared the stage with Quebec soprano, Suzie Leblanc. Recently she toured in Sacred Ellington with the celebrated opera singer, Jessye Norman.
Margie Gillis has been seen on television and in film on several occasions. Her life and art have been the subjects of several documentary films, the most notable being Veronica Tennant’s Wild Hearts in Strange Times. For her participation in this film, Margie Gillis was awarded the 1998 Gemini Prize for Best Performing Artist on Film. Among other collaborations in film and television, Margie Gillis choreographed the Delilah sequence for John Turturro’s film Romance and Cigarettes and danced the principal role in José Navas’ choreographic film Adela, mi amor.
Margie Gillis also creates for other performing artists. She has choreographed works for companies such as Coleman Lemieux & Company, The Bruce Wood Dance Company and the Alberta Ballet Company. In 2006, the Cirque du Soleil commissioned her for two solos for the Las Vegas production of LOVE, a tribute to the legendary Beatles. The world premiere of M.Body.7, a group piece Margie Gillis created to celebrate her 35th anniversary season, was performed in January 2008, at the Festival Montréal en lumière.