WHO: Margie Gillis
WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight
WHERE: University at Buffalo Center for the Arts, North Campus
Margie Gillis is truly an international artist. In 1979, she introduced modern dance to China - the first teacher and lecturer since the Mao-led revolution permitted to teach that art. She has toured not only North and South America, but India, Europe and the Middle East. And, as perhaps her biggest cosmopolitan feat, she has been named a cultural ambassador of Canada and Quebec.
Gillis was born in Montreal, the daughter of two Olympic skiers. She studied dance beginning at 3, and now can claim over 80 solo dance works under her feet. She has appeared with the National Ballet of Canada, the Paul Taylor Dance Company and other distinguished ensembles, and is currently part of the Jessye Norman tour, "Sacred Ellington."
It's for her solo dancing, however, that Gillis is best known. A choreographer as well as a dancer herself, she instructs students to focus on "a thinking body." Her philosophy isn't complicated. "I dance from the inside out, then I work on the technical methods of body alignment and form," she declares. "I try to strike a universal chord . . . and I try, most of all, to dance with integrity, and to use dance as a kind of catharsis to express joy, sorrow, uncertainty."
Gillis choreographed all but one of the solo works she'll be performing at UB. "Variations" was set to Bach's sparkling "Goldberg Variations." "Bloom" is accompanied by spoken excerpts from James Joyce's "Ulysses," while "The Little Animal" uses music by Eugene Friesen. For "Loon," Gillis turned to the music of Soundscape, and "Speak" is set to the music of Sheila Chandra.
"Thrall," which begins the program's second half, was choreographed by Gillis' friend and mentor Irene Dowd. It spotlights the music of tango master Astor Piazzolla. And Bach returns for "Slipstream," which will conclude the evening.