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Judith Rose Margolick was born in Montréal, Québec in 1947. She studied with Elsie Salomons, Seda Zaré and Sonia Chamberlain, and completed intensive summer training at the American School of Ballet, the Banff Centre, and the National Ballet School. From 1962 to 1965, she attended the Royal Ballet School in London. Twenty-five years of performing with dance companies followed, including with the Sadler’s Well’s Royal Ballet touring company; Les Grands Ballets Canadiens; Ballets de Génève; Bat-Dor Dance Company of Israel; Festival Ballet of Canada; and Ballet Rambert in London.
Judith began choreographing professionally in 1974, when she created Fusion for the Oakland Ballet where she was guesting as a soloist. Her 1976 Four Working Songs performed by members of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens led to her Chalmers Award for Excellence in Choreography. In 1976, after moving from London to Vancouver, BC, she began an extensive period of freelance performing and choreographing. She created over a hundred new works for dance, theatre, film and opera across the country and abroad, including works for Dancemakers, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Pacific Ballet Theatre, Goh Ballet, Vancouver Opera, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Les Ballet Jazz, the Shaw Festival, Stratford Festivals, the Banff Centre, Nederlands Dans Theater, and the National Ballet of Portugal. In 1978, Judith was awarded Canada’s other major choreographic award, the Clifford E. Lee.
In 1979 Judith created the Judith Marcuse Dance Projects Society, the organization that would serve as the administrative structure for her work over the coming decades. In 1984 Judith and her colleagues launched The Repertory Dance Company of Canada, a more permanent touring ensemble, which toured nationally and aboard over the following 17 years. Choreography was by Judith and many others, including choreographers such as Lar Lubavitch, Mark Morris, Ohad Naharin, Robert North, Christopher House, Danny Grossman, Grant Strate, Michael Trent and Serge Bennethan.
During the 1990s, Judith began to experiment with new structures and expanded her interest in producing festivals, cross-discipline arts production, and community-engaged creation. She produced the KISS Project, a multi-arts outreach and education project that was presented over several seasons, and collaborated with teenagers to reflect their worlds through their own sensibilities: the ICE, FIRE and EARTH projects. JMP received hundreds of letters from youth, parents and professional youth workers commending the collaborative projects. Expanding upon her socially engaged artwork, Judith spearheaded The Earth Project International Symposium in 2004 and the EARTH: The World Urban Festival in 2006, as well as publishing case studies on socially engaged art, and co-directing a video documentary called Dancing through Pain. She has also taught, presented and consulted overseas (eventually including Pakistan, India, Vietnam, Colombia, Ecuador, Japan, Finland, Holland, Ireland, South and West Africa and in the USA), mentored and taught hundreds of artists and students, and sat on many boards.
In 2000, Judith received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Simon Fraser University for her contributions to the arts. In 2009, she was recipient of the Jacqueline Lemieux Prize given by the Canada Council and, in 2011, she was elected a Senior Fellow of Ashoka International. In 2008, JMP entered into a partnership with Simon Fraser University (SFU) to create the International Centre of Art for Social Change (ICASC), a global hub for professional development and research on art for social change. In 2013, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada awarded ICASC a grant of $2.5 million for the five-year research initiative. In 2016, she launched a unique, two-year Master’s of Education program in Art for Social Change at Simon Fraser University.
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Biographical information compiled by Carolyne Clare based on information from the donor, March 2018
Authority record amended by JMH, June 2020
Biographical information supplied by the donor.