Montreal dance artist Margie Gillis is holding a dance workshop and performance in Nanaimo. (Photo courtesy Desdemona Burgin)

Renowned Montreal dance artist Margie Gillis coming to the Port Theatre

‘Evolutions’ features new interpretations of Gillis’s body of work

A renowned Montreal dance artist is coming to Nanaimo to revisit her body of work with the help of a team of top tier protégés.

On Oct. 12 dancer, choreographer and officer of the Order of Canada Margie Gillis presents Evolutions at the Port Theatre. In the show, Gillis performs along with participants of her Legacy Project, dancers from around the world who flocked to Gillis for her methods and guidance. But while she’s mentoring them, she wouldn’t call them students.

“They are dance professionals. They are in other companies, they have been in other companies, they have been soloists, they have very vital careers on their own, they stand tall in their own right and I’m just blessed that they’re with me on this project,” Gillis said.

While Gillis is in Nanaimo she’ll be offering her mentorship to local adult dancers as well when she presents an adult workshop at Kirkwood Dance Studio on Oct. 10. She said when she’s teaching dancers at different levels she likes to ask them about their goals in life and dance. She said she likes dancers who can articulate their vision.

“If someone comes to me and I say, ‘So, what is your vision?’ and they say, ‘It’s anything you want it to be, Margie,’ I go, ‘This is not going to work out,’” she said. “You have to have your desire. Your passion. And your passion can’t be me. Your passion has to be your passion. Who are you communicating [to]? What do you want to say?”

Once the dancers joined the company Gillis started “setting my dances on these dancers” to see what they would do and how they would change and evolve the work. She said she’s enjoyed watching the participants embrace her principles and present the work in a unique way.

“I love it. It’s fascinating to me. It’s beautiful,” Gillis said. “These are great artists and I just delight in creating work for them, in mentoring them in their own work, in giving them and relooking at these characters that I’ve created over the last 46 years of my career and what did they have to say now and what’s their relevance now.”

Gillis said she and the Legacy dancers also have a few new works they’ve developed for Evolutions including a new duo they first performed this summer and had “everyone who’s seen it weeping.” She said the new work fits in seamlessly with the reimagined older work.

“It all weaves forward and backwards in time and of course [the dancers] are making the work relevant to themselves and to this moment, anyway, so they don’t look dated,” Gillis said. “The work doesn’t look dated, it’s just different aspects of human behaviour and endeavour and hope.”

WHAT’S ON … Margie Gillis workshop at Kirkwood Dance Studio, 2138 Bowen Rd., on Thursday, Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m. $20 to register online. Evolutions comes to the Port Theatre, 125 Front St., on Saturday, Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $22 to $32. Available from the Port Theatre.

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