Vancouver – The achievements of BC’s dance artists were honoured as The Dance Centre announced Rosario Ancer, Natalie LeFebvre-Gnam and Barbara Bourget as recipients of the Isadora Awards for Excellence in Choreography, Excellence in Performance and Excellent in Teaching respectively.
The annual Isadora Awards, named after the great dance pioneer Isadora Duncan (1878-1927), were 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.
Rosario Ancer’s award for Excellence in Choreography is for her work Mis Hermanas: Thicker Than Water, My Sisters and I, an autobiographically-based piece created for her company Flamenco Rosario, which premiered at the Roundhouse in 2008 to critical acclaim and sold out houses. Natalie LeFebvre-Gnam receives the award for Excellence in Performance for her work in endORPHIN, a full length work choreographed by her husband James Gnam with whom she jointly founded the plastic orchid factory in 2006. Barbara Bourget, Artistic Director of Kokoro Dance, receives the award for Excellence in Teaching in recognition of over 34 years of teaching contemporary dance.
Each artist receives an Isadora Award – a sculpture specially created by the eminent glass artist Mary Filer – and fully subsidized rehearsal space at Scotiabank Dance Centre to the value of $1000. Previous Isadora recipients have included Susan Elliott, Kathleen McDonagh, Anne Cooper, Peter Bingham, Chick Snipper, Crystal Pite, Joe Laughlin, Jai Govinda, Ron Stewart, Wen Wei Wang, Judith Garay, Alison Denham, Noam Gagnon and Lola MacLaughlin.
Rosario Ancer Mexican-born Spanish-trained, Rosario launched her professional career in Spain when she joined Ballet Español Antonio del Castillo. In 1981 she joined the prestigious Tablao Flamenco Arco de Cuchilleros in Madrid and later toured with the Paco Mundo and Maria Velasquez Dance Company. In 1989, after moving to Vancouver, she established her school Centro Flamenco, the Vancouver International Flamenco Festival, and Flamenco Rosario. In addition to creating and performing for her company, Rosario regularly appears with organizations such as the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and Vancouver Opera and has been the focus of documentaries and television specials. She has received choreography awards from the Canada Council for the Arts and the BC Arts Council and in 2000 she received a YWCA nomination for the Women of Distinction Award for Arts and Culture. As a teacher, the “Matriarch of Flamenco in Vancouver” heads up Centro Flamenco and the Flamenco Rosario Professional Training Program and leads workshops across Canada and in Mexico. She has also mentored many local and national aspiring flamenco dancers. With her work, Rosario strives to honor her teachers and mentors: Rosario Zambrano, Ciro and Maria Magdalena.
Natalie LeFebvre-Gnam was born in Prince George, BC. She received her early training with Judy Russell and later studied at L’Ecole Nationale de Danse Contemporaine. Since then, she has had the opportunity to work with Le Jeune Ballet du Quebec, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal, dancersdancing and Coleman Lemieux & Co. In 2008, Natalie and husband James Gnam incorporated the Plastic Orchid Factory; the body of work the company seeks to create continually fuels and challenges her creative perspective. As a teacher and mentor to young dancers, Natalie has taught at Arts Umbrella, the Parksville Ballet School and The Richmond Academy of Dance, as well as having adjudicated at numerous festivals across BC. Currently, Natalie is a faculty member for the Anna Wyman School of Dance Arts, and a guest teacher with the Modus Operandi Training Program. She is also a certified Conditioning-with Imagery teacher.
Barbara Bourget was born in Port Alberni, BC. She studied ballet with Mara McBirney in Vancouver, and won a scholarship to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School where she also performed with the RWB in works directed by Arnold Spohr for choreographers such as José Ferran and Agnes de Mille. Barbara subsequently performed with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Mountain Dance and the Paula Ross Dance Company. She also worked with Judith Marcuse in a project that included Peggy Baker, Sacha Belinsky, Ronnie Gilbert, James Kudelka, and Larry Lillo as well as with Karen Jamieson on her seminal work Coming Out of Chaos. In 1982, Barbara was a founding co-artistic director of EDAM. Between 1981 and 1986, Barbara choreographed 25 dances for EDAM, Kamloops Dance Umbrella, UBC Danceworks, Touchstone Theatre, and Québec Été Danse. Since forming Kokoro Dance with Jay Hirabayashi in 1986, she has choreographed over one hundred dance works. Barbara received a Master of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Simon Fraser University in 2003. She has taught dance since 1975 for the Burnaby Arts Centre, Main Dance Place, Goh Ballet, Karen Jamieson Dance Company, Vancouver Moving Theatre, Simon Fraser University, Dancers' StudioWest (Calgary), Grant MacEwan College (Edmonton), University of Calgary, Kidco (Victoria), EDAM, Ballet BC, Harbour Dance, and Kokoro Dance.
The Dance Centre is BC’s resource centre for dance. It provides resources, information and support to the dance profession; runs performances and programs for artists and the public; and operates Scotiabank Dance Centre, Canada’s flagship dance facility, in downtown Vancouver.