Dance embraces every aspect of who we are in vivid connectedness with life, returning us to the full expansive wisdom of Experiential Knowledge and our intrinsic belonging to the Wild.”

-Margie Gillis

Pepita Ferrari, Director, Kat Baulu, Producer
Known for her films on the arts such as By Woman’s Hand, Joseph Giunta: A Silent Triumph and Karen Young’s Canticum Canticorum, Pepita Ferrari has been an independent filmmaker for more than 20 years. Her 2008 NFB feature Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary is considered a definitive work about documentary at the beginning of the 21st century.

Margie Gillis

2011 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Dance)

Dance artist, choreographer and teacher

Margie Gillis is one of Canada’s most prolific and acclaimed dance artists, choreographers and teachers. A courageous and free-spirited pioneer of modern dance, she has earned rave reviews and a loyal following throughout the world, and her unique naturalistic style has influenced an entire generation of dancers. In a brilliant career spanning nearly 40 years, she has choreographed and performed over 100 original dance works and collaborated with some of the greatest dancers and choreographers of her time. She has also been a guest artist with many companies such as the National Ballet of Canada, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and the Paul Taylor Dance Company, and has created works for organizations such as Alberta Ballet and Cirque du Soleil.

Ms. Gillis was born in Montreal in 1953 and began ballet and gymnastic lessons at the age of three. She gets her inspiration and movement from “transformation,” or going into a trance-like state—an ability that has shaped both her creative process and her professional teaching technique, which she calls “dancing from the inside out.”

A charismatic, uninhibited performer, instantly recognizable by her hip-length hair and flowing costumes, she is renowned for her intimate, intensely expressive portrayals of the multiple facets of the human experience.

In 1979 she became the first Western artist to introduce modern dance to China after the Cultural Revolution. In 1981 she founded the Margie Gillis Dance Foundation to promote her creations which she has performed on stages all over the world.

Margie Gillis continues to inspire, delight and amaze, and to bring Canada’s name in dance to audiences around the globe. She has been spokesperson and champion of many humanitarian causes.

Awards and honours include Member of the Order of Canada (1987, first modern dancer appointed to the Order); Honorary Cultural Ambassador for Canada (1981) and Quebec (1986); Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts (2008); Knight of the Ordre national du Québec (2009); Stella Adler Studio (New York) MAD Spirit Award for Exceptional Humanitarian Actions by an Artist (2008).