Marie Chouinard, O.C., C.Q.

Quebec-born dance artist Marie Chouinard travelled the world as a soloist for 12 years before founding Compagnie Marie Chouinard in 1990. Her works, with their avant-garde signature, are enduring and appear in the repertoires of major international dance companies. After studying ballet in Montreal, Marie abandoned formal instruction to follow her own path, becoming known as the “enfant terrible” of Quebec dance, soon building a worldwide reputation for her iconoclastic work. She is a director of film and virtual reality works; an author; and a visual artist in photography, drawings, and installations. She creates choreographies for site-specific works and in real-time for the web. Marie has received numerous honours in recognition of her contribution to the arts, and is a recipient of New York’s Bessie Award (2000) and was named Chevalier in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France, 2009). A true cultural ambassador for Quebec, Marie has received distinctions that include the Grand Prix du Conseil des arts de Montréal (2006), Officer of the Order of Canada (2007), Companion of the Ordre national des arts et des lettres du Québec (2015), the title of Chevalier of the Ordre national du Québec (2015), and Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement (2016). She has advanced the art of dance in numerous capacities including founding the Prix de la Danse de Montréal in 2011, and as director of dance at the Venice Biennale from 2017 to 2020. Marie Chouinard is preparing a solo exhibition for the reopening of the Musée d’art contemporain in Montreal.

Photo: Richard-Maxime Tremblay

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Christopher House, C.M., D.Litt. (h.c.)

He was resident choreographer and a leading dancer with Toronto Dance Theatre (TDT) from 1979-2020, with 26 years as the company’s artistic director. He created over 60 works for TDT, opened the repertoire to new and diverse voices, and developed programs in education and support for young choreographers. He has collaborated with many companies and artists including The National Ballet of Canada, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Ballet Gulbenkian, Cirque du Soleil, Kimsooja, Ame Henderson, Jordan Tannahill, The Hidden Cameras, and post-modern icon Deborah Hay. His solo adaption of Hay’s I’ll Crane For You was named one of the five best works of 2016 by The Globe and Mail and his duet with writer/theatre artist Jordan Tannahill, last performed in 2019, was chosen by NOW Magazine as one of the 10 best works of the decade. Recent projects include staging movement for Artistic Fraud’s I Forgive You at the National Arts Centre and performing his solo New Tricks (2022) across Canada. Christopher was named an Associate Dance Artist of the National Arts Centre (2007), received the Muriel Sherrin Award for International Achievement in Dance (2009), was made an honorary doctor of letters by Memorial University (2010), received the Silver Ticket Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts (2012), was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada (2018), and was cited for Outstanding Achievement in the York University Alumni Awards (2021). He is currently curating an exhibition in collaboration with Dance Collection Danse, called Stories of HIV/AIDS and Dance in Canada.

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David Moroni, C.M. 

A performer of acclaim in both Canada and abroad, David Moroni is also founder of Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Division. He has dedicated the majority of his life’s work to the education of dancers, and his dance legacy encompasses his work behind the scenes where he taught, coached and nurtured generations of dance artists at the Winnipeg school. Born in Ottawa, David studied with Nesta Toumine, director of the Classical Ballet Company of Ottawa. It was also in Toumine’s studio where he began teaching. He later joined her company, soon to perform leading roles in the ballet classics. In 1964 he joined the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, becoming a principal dancer and touring internationally. The RWB School Professional Division was founded by Moroni in 1970. He served as coach to his former students Evelyn Hart and the late David Peregrine when they won medals at the World Ballet Concours in Japan in 1980, then winning the historic four medals in Varna, Bulgaria. His performance legacy lives on in film having performed the lead role of The Stranger in Rose Latulippe, choreographed by Brian Macdonald. In 1990, David was appointed to the Order of Canada, and in 1991 was awarded the Order of the Buffalo Hunt by the Province of Manitoba. In June 2014, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Winnipeg, recognized for his contribution to the development of dance in Canada. Now in his eighties, he continues to guest teach at dance schools in the Maritimes where he makes his home.

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Frank Augustyn, O.C.

One of Canada’s most celebrated male dancers, Frank Augustyn trained at Canada’s National Ballet School, joining The National Ballet of Canada in 1970. In 1973, he and Karen Kain won a special award for the best pas de deux at the International Ballet Competition in Moscow, dancing the demanding roles of the Blue Bird pas de deux from The Sleeping Beauty. That win catapulted them to instant stardom, and they enjoyed a fabled partnership during their performing years. Throughout his career, Frank danced all the major classical roles as well as several roles in the contemporary ballet repertoire. He has worked with prestigious dance artists including Rudolf Nureyev, Erik Bruhn, Hans van Manen, Maurice Béjart, José Limón, and Kenneth McMillan. Frank has been the artistic director of the Ottawa Ballet and Le Gala des Étoiles. He hosted the acclaimed television series Footnotes: The Classics of Ballet and authored Footnotes: Dancing the World’s Best-Loved Ballets (2001), nominated as one of the top 10 children’s books of 2003 by Canadian Hackmatack Choice Books. Frank is an Associate Professor in the Department of Dance at Adelphi University. He has been honoured with numerous awards including honorary degrees from York University and McMaster University in 1979, and Trent University in 2003, where he was the 2000/01 Ashley Fellow. In 1979, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.

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Joey Hollingsworth

A groundbreaking Black Canadian tap dancer, Joey Hollingsworth swings fast and smooth. Born in 1936, raised in London, Ontario, he danced on variety, medicine and minstrel shows early on. At 10 years old, he tapped with legendary Bill BoJangles Robinson and witnessed tap greats Teddy Hale and Peg Leg Bates. His tap embodies Afro-diasporic rhythm and soul from his grandpa Huskey Henderson, railway porters, jazz drummers, and Black tappers. He calls it dancing into the wood. Joey tapped low into the boards with paddle and roll, slides, glides, jazz licks, and independence. An early Black artist on Canadian television, he danced in the era of big bands, backed by the Samuel Hershenhorn Orchestra on CBC in 1954. Joey was directed by Norman Jewison in the CBC Special Christmas with the Stars in 1956, and acted with Portia White in Playdate: In the Good Time in 1961. He also starred on shows such as The Billy O’Connor Show (1957), Cross Canada Hit Parade (1958), and the Ed Sullivan Show (1962). On Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, he was accompanied by jazz pianist Johnny Costa. He danced in civil rights performances sharing the bill with Oscar Peterson and Harry Belafonte. He recorded with guitarist Lenny Breau and stole steps with Gregory Hines. On stage with Broadway dancers, he laid down iron as the Hot Mikado (1997). Joey continues to walk in rhythm. In 2017, he was inducted into the London Music Hall of Fame and in 2018 was awarded the Ontario Black History Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2021, he made the London Mayor’s New Year’s Honour list.

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Nadia Potts

Nadia Potts began studying dance at age seven with Betty Oliphant and went on to train at Canada’s National Ballet School. In 1966, at age 18, she joined the National Ballet of Canada and, three years later was promoted to principal dancer, a position she held for the next 17 years. Nadia toured extensively, both with the National Ballet and as a guest artist throughout Canada, the United States, and Europe. She was partnered by many of the most renowned dancers of her time including Rudolf Nureyev, Erik Bruhn, Peter Martins, Anthony Dowell, Fernando Bujones, and Mikhail Baryshnikov, who chose her to dance in his debut of Erik Bruhn’s Swan Lake. After retiring from the stage, Nadia launched into a full-time teaching career and in 1989 became a professor and director of the Dance Program at Ryerson University (now Toronto Metropolitan University), a position she held for 24 years. Nadia assembled a powerful teaching team and was an inexhaustible mentor and leader for her faculty. She created courses that encouraged dance, acting and production students to train in their individual disciplines while also expanding their understanding and expertise in other fields. Program graduates went on to work in dance, theatre, and musical productions, and several started companies of their own. Nadia received a GREET teaching Award from Ryerson and is the author of Betty Oliphant: The Artistry of Teaching published by Dance Collection Danse. In 2014 she was honoured with Dance Ontario’s Lifetime Achievement Award. She has been on the board of DCD since 2009.

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Community Builder Award

Constance V. Pathy, C.M., C.Q., D.Mus.

Constance V. Pathy studied law at Leiden University in her native country of The Netherlands. Before coming to Canada in 1960, she spent a year in New York on a United Nations scholarship. In Montreal, Ms. Pathy became involved in the city’s cultural scene, serving on boards of numerous organizations. In 1975, Ms. Pathy became president of the Ladies’ Morning Musical Club, Canada’s oldest and most prestigious chamber music society, retiring in 2022. Here, in 2008, she established an endowment fund. Ms. Pathy joined the board of the Canadian Guild of Crafts in 1975 and was president from 1987 until 2022. In 1978, Ms. Pathy was elected to the board of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, becoming president in 1989. Under her aegis, the company acquired its own building, and was celebrated as a first-class ballet company on the international stage. Having established an endowment fund for the company in 2002, of which she is currently president, she retired in 2022. In 2010, Ms. Pathy, in collaboration with McGill University’s Faculty of Music, founded the McGill International String Quartet Academy (MISQA), a summer academy to further the study and interpretation of the string quartet repertoire. Ms. Pathy holds diplomas in performance from McGill University in cello (1971) and viola de gamba (1986). Her honours include: Governor General’s Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts (2004); The Netherlands’ Order of Oranje-Nassau, Officer (2015); Prix de la Danse de Montréal, Contribution exceptionnelle (2017); L’Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec (2018).

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Photo: Frédérique Ménard-Aubin

William J.S. Boyle Dance Luminaries

Lin Yee Goh & Choo Chiat Goh

Choo Chiat Goh began his training as a dancer on a scholarship at London’s Royal Ballet, where he studied with several great pioneers of ballet. At age 16, he was invited to join the London Festival Ballet, but declined to study in Beijing. Graduating from the Beijing Dance Academy in 1959, he joined the Central Ballet of China, becoming principal dancer and performing lead roles in the ballet classics. Lin Yee Goh’s early training was at the Beijing Dance Academy where she also learned the art of teaching. Upon graduation, she was invited to join the Central Ballet of China, where she danced for nearly two decades and became one of the company’s ballet mistresses. She further cultivated and fine-tuned her teaching skills by attending courses at the Royal Academy of Dance and later returned to China to complete her studies. In 1978, on a quest to establish a prestigious dance institute in their new home of Vancouver with a goal of artistic excellence and cultural awareness, the Gohs founded the Goh Ballet Academy. And in 1979, The Goh Ballet Youth Company was created for aspiring young dancers to transition from students to professionals. The Academy has worked with Canadian ballet luminaries such as Anna-Marie Holmes, Evelyn Hart, and Rex Harrington, and has toured and arranged collaborative productions with companies in Canada, China, France, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and the U.S. In recognition of their accomplishments, the Gohs were presented with the 2003 City of Vancouver Civic Merit Award and the 2006 BC Community Achievement Award.

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Sandra Faire Next Generation Award

Aria Evans

Aria Evans is a queer, Vancouver Island-born, award-winning interdisciplinary artist whose practice spans dance, theatre, and film. They are currently splitting their time between Toronto and Winnipeg where they have begun a tenure track Assistant Professor position teaching movement in the Theatre and Film Department at the University of Winnipeg. A 2012 graduate of York University, Aria was the Metcalf Artistic Director Intern at Soulpepper Theatre from 2021-2022 and was co-Artistic Director of hub14 from 2013-2018. Aria is a certified Intimacy Coordinator working in both film and theatre. Over the course of Aria’s time as a professional artist, they have had the pleasure of working as a Movement Director, Choreographer and/or Intimacy Professional for a number of Canada’s leading arts organisations with highlights including the Canadian Opera Company, Tarragon Theatre, Soulpepper Theatre, Stratford Festival, Coal Mine Theatre, and Factory Theatre, to name a few. As a public speaker, activist and creative leader, Aria draws on their experiences of being multiracial. With a large-scale vision, collaboration is the departure point to the choreographic work that Aria creates under their company POLITICAL MOVEMENT. Advocating for inclusion and the representation of diversity, Aria uses their artistic practice to question the ways we can coexist together. 

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Celia Franca, C.C.; Betty Oliphant, C.C.; Grant Strate, C.M., FRSC

Celia Franca, C.C. was born in London, England in 1921. She began her ballet studies at age 4 and was a scholarship student at the Guildhall School of Music and the Royal Academy of Dancing. She performed with Ballet Rambert before joining Dame Ninette de Valois’s Sadler’s Wells Ballet (now The Royal Ballet) in 1941, followed by the Metropolitan Ballet in 1947. It was there that she began choreographing for television, creating the first two ballets ever commissioned by the BBC, The Eve of St. Agnes and Dance of Salome. Celia was invited to attend the 1950 Canadian Ballet Festival in Montreal under the pretext that she would return in 1951 to set up a national ballet company. In just 10 months, Celia conducted a national audition tour, recruited and rehearsed dancers, assembled an artistic staff, and staged The National Ballet of Canada’s inaugural performance at Toronto’s Eaton Auditorium on November 12, 1951. As Artistic Director, Celia pursued high levels of artistry, innovation, and growth. She built the repertoire with venerable classical ballets, collaborated with contemporary choreographers such as Antony Tudor and John Cranko, toured internationally, and brought in accomplished guest artists including Lynn Seymour, Erik Bruhn, and Rudolf Nureyev. Over the course of her tenure, she commissioned and acquired more than 30 Canadian ballets and started the Choreographic Workshops that still nurture Canadian creative talent today. Much of this she accomplished in the face of financial hardship. In 1959, Celia co-founded Canada’s National Ballet School with Betty Oliphant.

Betty Oliphant, C.C. was born in London, England in 1918. She had a passion for dance and fought her middle-class British family for ballet lessons. In the late 1920s and ’30s, she studied ballet along with stage, tap, and ballroom dancing. When she was 13, she was teaching and dancing professionally, and at 17 she opened her own school above the Twinings Tea Emporium in London. During the Second World War she worked as an ambulance driver, as a choreographer of pantomimes, and also for a British Army touring group – “The Blue Pencils”. She arrived in Canada in 1947 as a war bride with her Canadian serviceman husband and their two children. She then opened a school on Sherbourne Street, and helped found the Canadian Dance Teachers’ Association. Betty was the ballet mistress for eight years and later the Associate Artistic Director of The National Ballet of Canada. Central to her approach as a ballet teacher was the importance of mastering technique, with the sole purpose of achieving freedom of expression. In 1959 “Miss O”, as she was called, co-founded Canada’s National Ballet School with Celia Franca guiding it to gain an international reputation for superb ballet training. She helped re-organize the Royal Danish Ballet School in 1978. Her training methods produced some of Canada’s most renowned ballet dancers including Veronica Tennant, Martine van Hamel, Karen Kain, Frank Augustyn, Kevin Pugh, and Rex Harrington, and choreographers such as James Kudelka and John Alleyne.

Grant Strate, C.M., FRSC was born in Cardston, Alberta in 1927. While studying law at the University of Alberta, he also studied dance with Laine Metz, a student of the influential German Expressionist Mary Wigman. Grant was a charter member of The National Ballet of Canada as a dancer in 1951 and was resident choreographer from 1964 to 1970. He was guest choreographer in Antwerp for the 1966/67 season and with the Royal Swedish Ballet in 1968/69. Among his more than 50 ballets for many companies are Ballad and The House of Atreus with music by Harry Somers, Bird Life, and Cyclus. Strate’s choreography brought an original Canadian perspective and a contemporary aesthetic to the repertoire of the National Ballet, but his contribution as an educator and nurturer of choreographic talent has been even more important for the development of Canadian dance. Inspired by his experience as a guest teacher at the Juilliard School in New York City in 1962/63, a time of great artistic ferment, Grant fostered and facilitated artistic experimentation, the explosion of independent dance in Canada, and the development of post-secondary dance training. He was founder of Canada’s first degree program in dance at York University (1970) and of the Dance in Canada Association (1973), instigator of National Choreographic Seminars (1978, 1980, 1985, 1991), and director of Simon Fraser University’s School for Contemporary Arts (1980-89) and the Contemporary Arts Summer Institute (1985-1995). He became professor emeritus in 1993. In 1999, Grant was elected the President of the World Dance Alliance – Americas. 

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Celia Franca, C.C.
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Betty Oliphant, C.C.
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Grant Strate, C.M., FRSC