Judith Marcuse

Current affiliation:
Judith Marcuse Dance Projects Society, International Centre of Art for Social Change

By weaving acclaimed dance and choreographing techniques with community outreach activities on youth suicide, violence, and social justice, Judith Marcuse has become a pioneer in integrated approaches to social change.

Judith Marcuse is one of Canada’s senior artists and producers with an international career that spans 50 years as a dancer, choreographer, director, producer, teacher, writer, and lecturer.

Marcuse was trained in classical ballet, contemporary, and other dance techniques in Banff, Montréal, New York City, Toronto, and London, England. A graduate of England’s Royal Ballet School, she danced professionally with major classical and contemporary companies in Canada, the Middle East, Europe and the United States, touring and performing around the world in a performance career spanning 25 years.

After establishing the Judith Marcuse Dance Projects Society in 1980 and turning her focus to choreography, artistic direction, and production, Marcuse continued to work with other organizations in Canada and abroad to produce and create for theatre, opera, musical theatre, television, and film. Her repertory dance company toured in Canada and internationally for over 15 years, during which it pioneered innovative community residency and youth programs. Marcuse has created over 100 original works for live performance and many projects for film and television. She has also produced seven large-scale arts festivals, including the Kiss Projects on Granville Island and the International EARTH World Urban Festival.

Marcuse’s present focus is on the burgeoning field of art for social change; her pioneering work in this area is internationally recognized. The multi-year, large-scale, issue-based ICE, FIRE, and EARTH projects explored teen suicide, violence, and environment/social justice issues as experienced by young people. Each of these five-year projects has integrated workshops, the touring of multi-media stage productions, and extensive community outreach activities, always in collaboration with local and national organizations.

Marcuse is the founder and co-director of the International Centre of Art for Social Change, which was established in 2009. It is a partnership between Judith Marcuse Projects and Simon Fraser University, where she is an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Education and artist-in-residence. She is presently the lead investigator in a five-year (2013-2018) national research project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council entitled Art for social change: an integrated research program in teaching, evaluation and capacity-building. She took the lead in developing a master’s of education degree program in art for social change based in Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Education.

Judith Marcuse is the recipient of many honours, including Canada’s two major awards in choreography, the Chalmers Award and the Lee Award. She was awarded an honourary doctorate by Simon Fraser University in 2000 and the Jacqueline Lemieux Prize in Dance by the Canada Council for the Arts in 2009. She was elected a senior fellow of Ashoka International in 2011.