We are proud to announce the recipient of this year’s Isadora Award for Excellence in Dance. Vancouver choreographer Karen Jamieson receives the award in recognition of her contribution to BC’s dance scene through a career spanning over forty years which encompasses community-engaged and cross-cultural work, as well as creation and performance.
Mirna Zagar, Executive Director of The Dance Centre, said: “Karen is renowned as a choreographer and dance artist, and also as a mentor to many in our dance community, and an inspiring and generous artist. The emotional power of her work is acknowledged by critics and audiences alike, and she is recognized through this award for her contribution to the overall development of dance in British Columbia and Canada. Her ability to bridge traditions, and the awareness and appreciation she has nurtured through her many collaborations with First Nations dance, have helped empower others to embrace cultural diversity and appreciate the differences which enrich our dance culture. The Award also acknowledges her work in the development of community-engaged dance, through which she has invited people to engage in the practice of art-making, building up and expanding the understanding of the art form among the public. Constantly challenging the boundaries of the art form and her own artistic practice, as well as encouraging others to tread the path into unexplored territories, Karen continues to be a significant force in Canada’s dance landscape.”
The annual Isadora Award, named after the great dance pioneer Isadora Duncan (1878-1927), was instituted by The Dance Centre in 1999 to recognize and celebrate the achievements of the dance profession in British Columbia. Members of the dance community are invited to nominate artists for the award, and an independent jury of professionals working in the field selects recipients based on specific criteria. Recipients receive an Isadora Award sculpture specially created by the eminent glass artist Mary Filer, fully subsidized rehearsal space at Scotiabank Dance Centre to the value of $1000, and $500 cash. Previous Isadora recipients have included Jennifer Mascall, Susan Elliott, Peter Bingham, Chick Snipper, Crystal Pite, Joe Laughlin, Wen Wei Wang, Judith Garay, Paras Terezakis, and Lee Su-Feh.
After receiving a BA in Philosophy and Anthropology from the University of British Columbia, Karen Jamieson began dancing at Simon Fraser University. In New York City (1970-1975), she studied modern dance techniques of Alwin Nikolais, Merce Cunningham and Martha Graham, and classical ballet with Alfredo Corvino and Maggie Black; she performed with Yvonne Rainer and Phyllus Lamhut, and toured with Alwin Nikolais. Returning to Vancouver, she co-initiated the experimental movement collective Terminal City Dance Research.
She established Karen Jamieson Dance in 1983. She has received the Chalmers Award, Canada's principal choreographic award and the Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award in dance. Her work Sisyphus is recognized as one of the top 10 Canadian Choreographic Masterworks of the 20th Century. The company has toured nationally and internationally.
Karen is acknowledged nationally for her ground-breaking work in community-engaged and cross-cultural dance including: Gawa Gyani, a collaboration with Gitk’san chief, Kenneth Harris (1990-1997), her collaboration with the community of Skidegate in Haida Gwaii (2002-2005) and current and ongoing creation work with residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (2006-present). She has recently established a Mentorship Program; a transfer of experience to a new generation of dancers and choreographers. The foundation of her current practice integrates Vijnana yoga and principles of tensegrity anatomy with contemporary dance. Karen has created 97 original dance works and she is still dancing…
Photo by Chris Randle