© Cylla von Tiedemann
“Margie Gillis has fashioned an international career as a unique performer of sensuous physicality and an individual but poetic passion.”
– Clive Barnes, New York Post
At the forefront of modern dance for more than 45 years, internationally acclaimed dance Artist Margie Gillis is one of the most influential Canadian choreographers/dancers of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Margie Gillis was born on July 9th, 1953 in Montreal, Quebec, into a family of athletes where corporeal experience and physical prowess were essential aspects of daily life. In 1981, she founded the Margie Gillis Dance Foundation in Montreal. Over the decades, Margie has created a rich repertory of more than one hundred and fifty creations, solos, duets, and group works, which have been performed around the globe. Establishing herself as an innovative choreographer, she built her career as a solo dancer, distinguishing herself with her naturalistic style and inimitable stage presence, and her iconic long cascading hair. She developed a new form of movement in her unique artistic voice that has influenced generations of choreographers and dancers. She continues to this day to shape the art of movement, earning public and critical recognition for the beauty, authenticity and emotional expression of her creations. Infused with political, social, and cultural themes, Margie Gillis’ philosophy explores the notions of humanity, inner landscape, and our intrinsic relationship to nature, revealing the intimacies of the human psyche. Her repertoire covers a wide array of topics including: feminine consciousness, the natural world, and the transformative process, all merging in a profound and powerful expression of humanism and emotion.
Although primarily a soloist, Margie Gillis has collaborated as a guest artist on different projects initiated by some of the most significant artists and companies of her time, such as Jessye Norman, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, The Paul Taylor Dance Company, and the Stella Adler Studio of Acting.
Teaching, mentoring and passing on her legacy to emerging artists are an integral part of her vision. Responding to an overwhelming demand from the dance community, Margie Gillis curated the Legacy Project to share her unique creative history and ensure the continuity of her contribution to modern dance. From there, was born the Margie Gillis – Legacy Project Dance Company, which is now touring with repertoire pieces and new creations.
With her unique approach to teaching, Dancing from the Inside Out, she offers workshops for dance professionals and students alike. As a socially engaged artist, Margie Gillis believes that dance can contribute to positive transformation. She lectures and teaches on the power of movement as a means of problem solving, highlighting the political dimension of dance and art within societies, especially in her work with conflict transformation and reclaiming the body.
Embracing new challenges and opportunities, she has been the spokesperson for OXFAM, the Planned Parenthood Foundation, and a number of organizations dedicated to the fight against AIDS. Margie is also an active defender of environmental causes.
Unwaveringly, she continues to develop her craft through experimenting, teaching, creation, innovation and performance.
Awards & Honours
Doctorate of Fine Arts (DFA), Concordia University
Distinguished Artist Award (Dancer/ Choreographer) from the Montreal 2017 International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA).
Officer of the Order of Canada
Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award from the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award Foundation
Recipient, Homage Prize from Artistes pour la paix (with Yvon Deschamps)
Knight of the Ordre national du Québec
MAD Spirit Award for Exceptional Humanitarian Actions by an Artist, Stella Adler Studio of Acting, New York
Walter Carsen Prize, Canada Council for the Arts
American Dance Guild Award
Career Grant, Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec
Gemini Prize for Best Performing Artist on Film
Member of the Order of Canada
Honorary title of Cultural Ambassador (Québec)
Honorary title of Cultural Ambassador (Canada)