Margie Gillis

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Margie Gillis, OC CQ (born July 9, 1953) is a Canadian solo dancer and choreographer, whose most commonly known dance style is modern.

A modern-dance artist, dancer and choreographer, Gillis has been creating original works for over thirty-five years. Her repertoire includes more than one hundred pieces, which she performs as solos and nearly a dozen duets, and group pieces.[1][2]

Early life and education[edit]

She was born in Montreal, Quebec,[2] the daughter of Gene Gillis, an Olympic skier, and Rhona Wurtele, a Canadian Olympic skier. Her brother Jere Gillis played professional hockey. Her other brother Christopher Gillis was a professional dancer and choreographer who danced with her since childhood and collaborated on numerous shows.[citation needed]

Showing a passion for dance early in life, she began ballet and gymnastic lessons at the age of three. In her youth, she trained and rehearsed on her own and later continued to learn in classes with teachers such as May O'Donnell, Linda Rabin, Lynda Raino and Allan Wayne.[3]


In 1981, 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.[1][4]

Gillis is a socially committed artist. She has been spokesperson for a number of organizations dedicated to the fight against AIDS as well as for OXFAM and the Planned Parenthood Foundation.[5]

She was the first performer to take modern dance to China in 1979.[citation needed] During the summer months, Gillis teaches two one-week dance retreats at HollyHock, a centre on Cortes Island, British Columbia.[citation needed]

Awards and distinctions[edit]

Gillis is an Honorary Cultural Ambassador for both the Quebec (1986) and Canadian (1981) governments. In 1987, she was the first modern dance artist to be awarded the Order of Canada.

In 2001, she received a Career Grant from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec for her exceptional contribution to Quebec culture.

In the fall of 2008, Gillis was chosen by the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York City, New York, to receive its first MAD Spirit Award for her involvement in various social causes, and she was awarded the Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts by a jury of her peers at the Canada Council for the Arts.

In 2009, she was made a Knight of the National Order of Quebec.[6]

On March 3, 2011, Gillis was named a 2011 laureate of the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards for Lifetime Artistic Achievement.[7]

In May 2011, she received the Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award from the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award.

In 2013, Gillis was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada. This honour recognizes a lifetime of achievement and merit of a high degree, especially in service to Canada or to humanity at large.[8][9][8][10][11] In 1987, she was made a Member of the Order of Canada[12] and in 2004 was named one of Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch".[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Margie Gillis receives Governor General's Award". The Dance Current. March 13, 2011. Retrieved February 7, 2014.
  2. ^ a b "La Fondation de danse Margie Gillis Dance Foundation". Retrieved February 7, 2014.
  3. ^ "The Canadian Encyclopedia". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved February 7, 2014.
  4. ^ "Recherche de fonds d'archives - Bibliothèque et Archives Canada". Archived from the original on July 19, 2013. Retrieved February 7, 2014.
  5. ^ "Margie Gillis – Ordre national du Québec". Retrieved February 7, 2014.
  6. ^ "Citation". National Order of Quebec (in French). Retrieved February 7, 2014.
  7. ^ [1] Archived March 12, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ a b "Margie Gillis - 2001 Career grant recipient - Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec". Retrieved February 7, 2014.
  9. ^ "The Governor General of Canada > Appointments to the Order of Canada". June 28, 2013. Retrieved February 7, 2014.
  10. ^ "Order of Canada". April 30, 2009. Retrieved February 7, 2014.
  11. ^ "Award Recipients - Governor General's Performing Arts Awards (GGPAA)". Retrieved February 7, 2014.
  12. ^ Order of Canada citation

External links[edit]