Legendary Canadian dance icon Peggy Baker illuminates the NAC Studio stage on April 11-13, 2013

OTTAWA, April 3, 2013 — Peggy Baker returns to the National Arts Centre with her ensemble of exquisite dancers to celebrate the power and poetry of contemporary dance. Featuring four diverse works, Peggy Baker Dance Projects combines powerful musical scores, dramatic lighting designs, and moving poetry to present an evening of stunning choreography.

Peggy Baker dances her own double-Dora Award-winning solo, Portal; the hyperkinetic Benjamin Kamino performs Baker's 1996 work Encoded Revision, set to a score by Michael J. Baker; the radiant Andrea Nann dances Baker's 1995 solo, In a Landscape, to John Cage music of the same name; and a major new work choreographed by Peggy Baker, Piano/Quartet, set to John Cage's Sonatas and Interludes, is danced by Ric Brown, Sean Ling, Sahara Morimoto, and Andrea Nann.

Piano music is performed live by renowned pianist John Kameel Farah. The show is a celebration of a brilliant dancer and choreographer who, at age 60, still embodies passion and energy. Peggy Baker Dance Projects appears in the Studio of the NAC at 8 p.m. on Thursday April 11, Friday April 12, and Saturday April 13, 2013. Running time is approximately 95 minutes, with one intermission.

TWO THINGS strike you when Peggy Baker strides onto the stage: the long, angular lines of her lithe dancer’s body, and her loose yet careful composure. Indeed, Peggy Baker is magnificent, acclaimed as one of the most outstanding contemporary dancers of her generation. She is a passionate proponent and avid, articulate lover of her art. Writing in The Dance Current (April 2008), Penelope Ford said, "When Baker is on stage, her dance is your captor.” Stéphanie Brody wrote in La Presse (February 2008) "Graceful, with sharply-defined outline and well-toned body, she moves with assurance. That said, her unending arms, her square shoulders, her strongly-defined joints and her angular features lend her a striking, almost androgynous aspect. And it is this that makes her so fascinating."

Peggy Baker is an icon, the queen of contemporary Canadian dance. A consummate performer, she is unforgettable onstage; her work often expresses abstract emotions with cerebral insight and her performances radiate a crystalline quality of profound artistry, physical acuity, and unique emotional strength. An torch-bearer for dance, she has helped forge a new model of feminine strength and is part of a generation of dancers who are extending their performing careers, opening the perspective of maturity for dance artists in new ways. Baker has danced for nearly four decades now, and her solo career — which she embarked on at 37, an age when many of her peers retire — continues to test the limits of her chosen art form and her aging body. Baker's art is a work in progress, integrating her work as a performer, teacher, and choreographer in ever-changing, interweaving patterns.

PORTAL (2008)
Choreography: Peggy Baker
Portal strips the act of dancing to the bone. In this stark and enigmatic 10-minute solo, Peggy Baker shares a silent theatre with the audience, appearing and disappearing in tiny shards of light. Portal exploits her physique to great advantage. Peggy Baker wrestles with the contradictions inherent in her physical form, testing the limits of her tall body, exploring its tensions and its flaws, constantly redefining her relationship with space. Baker is at once violent and tender towards her “instrument,” and towards herself. She is a solitary figure stranded at the brink of eternity.

Choreography: Peggy Baker
The creation of this work was based on the literary form of the palimpsest: a document written on several times, with remnants of earlier, imperfectly erased writing still visible. Buried inside of Encoded Revision, and serving as the original document for the musical palimpsest, is an account of the tragic death of composer Michael J. Baker's great-grandfather in a train accident on the Canadian prairies in 1898. Three generations later, the story existed only vaguely in the family's oral history until it was recovered more completely through the composer's research. In every available account -- newspaper articles, CPR telegrams and North West Mounted police reports -- this intriguing bit of information surfaces: "A tramp, who was stealing a ride, was slightly injured, and started walking east after he had his breakfast."

Choreography: Peggy Baker
A shamanistic meditation on instinct, ritual, and transformation, In a Landscape requires the pianist to approach each sound with precision and delicacy, and calls on the dancer to align herself with the constancy, and the flux, of nature's cycles.

Choreography: Peggy Baker
Piano/Quartet is a major new work in celebration of the centenary of the birth of composer John Cage (1912-1992). Dancemaker Peggy Baker sets four superb dancers in motion, translating -- as choreography, in varied solos, duets, and trios -- a series of beautiful and complex poems by Cage, a man more famous for groundbreaking music than for poetry. Cage's poems are based on quotations by the painter Jasper Johns. We do not hear the poems, we see them danced. What we do hear is a selection of Cage's Sonatas and Interludes for piano played with compelling sensitivity by stellar Canadian pianist John Kameel Farah.


Edmonton-born Peggy Baker is acclaimed as one of the most outstanding dance artists of her generation. For decades, she has influenced dancers in both modern dance and ballet, and has captivated audiences across North America, Asia, and Europe. A founding member of Dancemakers (Toronto,1974), Baker has worked with the world’s leading dance figures, including Mikhail Baryshnikov, Paul-André Fortier, James Kudelka, Lar Lubovitch, and Mark Morris. Her collaborations with superb musicians, filmmakers, visual artists, and designers are legend. An extraordinary performer, creator, and teacher, Baker is a complex and inspiring figure. Appointed the first-ever Artist-in-Residence at Toronto's National Ballet School in 1992, Peggy Baker’s is the recipient of many honours and awards, including Dora Mavor Moore Awards, the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario, and a 2009 Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement in Dance. In 2010, she was awarded the Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts. Ms. Baker made her debut as a solo artist in 1990, her work distinguished from the outset by collaborations with extraordinary creators and performers. Recognized as one of the modern dance world's finest teachers, Ms. Baker was director of dance for the Contemporary Arts Summer Institute at Simon Fraser University from 1991-1994. She teaches regularly at universities and professional training programs throughout Canada and the U.S.

Established in 1990 and incorporated in 1996, Peggy Baker Dance Projects is a charitable non-profit organization. Distinguished from the outset by collaborations with extraordinary creators and performers, the organization has built an exceptional body of work. Peggy Baker is dedicated to the partnership of movement and live music to enrich the art of dance, and has performed with many outstanding musicians. Peggy Baker Dance Projects’ objective in creating, producing, and touring its repertoire is to reach a broad public, offering audiences a deeper appreciation of the unique beauty and power of modern dance. Peggy Baker Dance Projects has toured across Canada and the U.S., to Europe and South East Asia, and is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, Laidlaw Foundation, the George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation and many individual donors.

Master Class with Peggy Baker
Saturday, April 13th, 2013, 10am to 12pm.

For pre professional-advanced level ballet/modern dancers aged 14 and up

  • Location: Rehearsal Hall A, NAC, 53 Elgin Street, (enter by stage door)
  • Cost:  $25
  • As space is limited please register in advance with Kirsten Andersen, dance outreach coordinator email: kirsten.andersen@nac-cna.ca


[Portal] "A great success, all the more so since one loves to watch the movement of that strange body."
Stéphanie Brody, La Presse, February 23, 2008

[Piano/Quartet] "... mesmerizing contemporary dance ... will certainly engage your senses to the fullest ...the four dancers bring their indefatigable strength and endurance to a timeless piece. Both visually and audibly dynamic ... it leaves you simply spellbound."
Adelina Fabiano, mooney on theatre.com, January 22, 2012

"[Portal] Peggy Baker is recreating herself, unveiling a mesmerizing new dance, made from the ground up for other dancers. Epic in scope, inventive in structure and emotionally nuanced, it could well earn Baker yet another Dora Award."
Michael Crabb, The Toronto Star, January 23, 2012

For additional information and photos/video of the production, visit the NAC website at www.nac-cna.ca

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Clara Wicke
Marketing and Communications Officer, Dance
National Arts Centre
(613) 947-7000 X379