Friday, June 3, 2011


I came upon this video clip from the Canadian Sun News Program with Canadian interpretive dancer, Margie Gillis. It's hard to believe a reporter could be so disrespectful to the subject of her interview and, by extension, to the dance community as a whole. Some people have such little respect for the arts community;   opposing an industry that, for the most part, is not for profit. Whether or not you enjoy interpretive dance, or dance in general, it is incredibly important to keep the art form alive. Reporters such as this put things in jeopardy. I'd like to see what the reporter makes in a year and compare that to the average salary a dancer makes in his/her entire career. Disgusting.

Click HERE to watch.


  1. Krista Erickson is crass, rude, ignorant and vulgar, we can all agree on that (unless you think I've made a snobbish jab at her class/education - fair enough, I AM a snob). But Margie Gillis comes off looking like a flake, and has no solid arguments to defend herself, nothing that would stand up in a court of law, and nothing that would convince any of my four grandparents (all refugees to Canada) that they ought to help subsidise something like interpretative dance. There ARE good arguments to be made for some public subsidy of the arts, as long as artists don't believe they're entitled to a living from the state without strings attached. I write poetry, which I don't publish: I don't particularly need/want to be paid for it, and I circulate my poems to friends by e-mail mainly because I don't think strangers would be interested to buy them. If I published, I'd either have to go to some rip-off vanity publisher, or else submit my work to a Canadian poetry press. Because small publishers aren't profitable (how many books of Canadian poetry do YOU read in a year?), pretty much all of them have public subsidy. Which is possibly justifiable in the case of translations, for example, or other works that have some demonstrable benefit to the culture or community (however you might want to prove this); but I, at least, can't make a case that I deserve to be paid by the state for what I write. Margie Gillis is a brilliant dancer, no question (I saw her perform once) but look at her list of subsidies. If she started a dance studio somewhere I'd be happy for some of my taxes to go towards it, because you can even prove to my bigoted old grandmother that there's a community benefit for that sort of thing. Dance is a healthy activity and God knows my Mom and my sisters got a lot out of their classical ballet training (though they hated it). As for professional training for dancers/teachers -- sure, I can even see the point of helping subsidise that, to a point. But paying for Margie Gillis to tour around the country? Tour around the world? Come on. If people really want her to travel out of Quebec, they'll find a way to pay for it. Is there any benefit to society, in terms of cultural diplomacy, or increasing national prestige, to justify the expense? I don't really see any - not enough to justify the expense. No country's THAT rich, that we can afford to ship people cross-country and around the world just because they do something for 'the heart and soul'. In fact, all this airhead 'heart and soul' garbage (sounds like my fiancée's yoga teacher) is pretty much all Margie Gillis has for explaining why we have to help pay for her activities out of tax revenues. As an explanation that's not enough.

  2. Oh yeah -- and 'compassion' for artists? Give me a break. Nobody put a gun to your head and said 'dance'. If you do it for its own sake, then why do you expect money in the first place? And how dare you suggest that you deserve to be paid like anyone else who's at the top of his profession simply by virtue of being at the top of your profession. The state doesn't owe you a top-up just because you didn't become a cardiologist. You're the one who chose to dance for a living in the first place. I understand that audiences for any cultural activities in Canada are pathetically small (except for a few things like the Stratford & Shaw festivals) but they are everywhere else too. If you can't find private or corporate patronage, then tough. When you do it for money you're not dancing for yourself, you're dancing for your audience, and you'd better think a little harder about what they want/need if you want them to open their wallets to you. If you expect society to pay for what you do, then you'd better think hard about what you're doing for society first. Passive-aggressive crap about 'compassion' isn't going to cut it. Nor is this baloney about 'hearts and souls'. Until Margie Gillis finds some better arguments I'm on Sun News's side on this one. Dance is 'important to keep alive'? I probably agree, but why don't all you people try to prove it for once, without all this irritating whining and self-pity, and unsubstantiated assertion. When it comes to arts funding, Stephen Harper is winning the argument, because Canadian artists and writers either think the debate is beneath them, or else wouldn't even know what to say. For a community of intellectuals, that's pathetic. Krista Erickson isn't the only arrogant one in that interview.

  3. Thank you for your opinion.

  4. RE: Comment #1

    I agree that Margie Gillis's argument was half-baked and generally I don't respond well to flowery language like "heart and soul" etc, but - to be fair - she was totally blindsided. The outset of the interview establishes it as a discussion of her work/career, not a financial/political argument. I think Gillis may have been unprepared for the attack she received. This being said, you're right: she did not have an argument that would "stand up in court." What offended me about the interview was Krista Erikson's lack of respect for dance in general and her scathing remarks towards the medium of dance - in this case interpretive dance. The arts community as a whole is funded both privately and publicly, but any funding issued to dance cooperatives or companies is done so after thought and consideration by a group or committee. Instead of attacking the artist, it would have been more productive to question the committee issuing the money in the first place. Or, in future interviews, it may be beneficial to discuss the topic of the interview with the subject, so that person may be better prepared to answer questions. I do admire Margie Gillis's grace under fire - something Krista Erikson did not have. My thoughts were that the interview was unprofessional and disrespectful on the part of Sun News. As far as Gillis's argument, yes, it needs work, but fundamentally I support public funding for the arts. In the grand scheme of things, it is not an exorbitant amount of money and the arts do contribute substantially to the community. If, for example, we could get more public funding for arts programs in public school systems, it would hugely benefit a youth community who otherwise don't have access to creative career paths. Yes, it would come out of taxes, but I do believe the arts are important to preserve...even for the underprivileged who don't have access to wealthy patrons and private investors.