Stephanie Ballard

Stephanie Ballard (née Noden), dancer, choreographer, artistic director, company founder, administrator, archivist, educator (born at San Francisco, Ca 14 Feb 1949). Stephanie Ballard was born into an artistic family and as a child she staged what she calls "pageants" for family and friends. Her endlessly creative, curious and flexible enthusiasm for all aspects of dance has led to a diversified career mainly in Ð but not confined to - Winnipeg.

Training

Ballard took dancing lessons intermittently from age 5 but "got serious" about dance in high school in Los Angeles when she began studying modern dance and ballet with Fanya Fage, a founding member of the Martha Graham Dance Company.

After returning to San Francisco at age 19, Stephanie Ballard completed a two-year diploma course for teachers at the SF Conservatory of Ballet under Merriem Lanova, a former dancer with Colonel Wassily de Basil's Original Ballet Russe. During those years, Ballard toured throughout the Western US with Ballet Celeste, the institution's student company, performing mainly character roles. She studied for several months in New York City with various masters.

Winnipeg

In 1972 she began enduring relationships with WINNIPEG'S CONTEMPORARY DANCERS (WCD) and its School for Contemporary Dancers (SCD). Her relationship with WCD continued in other capacities after she ceased dancing with the company in 1983. During her early days in the city, she taught blind and deaf youth, evidence of a life-long interest in bringing dance into the community at large. Her talents in directing and administering blossomed early at WCD, where she became artistic director and manager of the apprenticeship program in 1979, later serving as associate artistic director from 1980-83.

Choreography

She began her long choreographic career at WCD, creating more than 90 works since 1977, including Prairie Song (1980), an essay on isolation and loneliness, In Passing (1999), a large work commissioned for the company's 35th anniversary, and George (Grand Dames in Dance) (2004), an intergenerational piece featuring WCD founder Rachel BROWNE.

In 2010, the prolific Ballard created 2 full-evening pieces, Homeagain and A Christmas Carol for her own company, Stephanie Ballard and Dancers, founded in 1986. She has choreographed for SCD, Toronto's BALLET JÜRGEN, the Columbia City Ballet (Columbia, Va), Toronto's Canadian Children's Dance Theatre, and for soloists Peggy BAKER and Margie GILLIS, among others.

Montréal

From 1986-96 in Montréal, Ballard was manager and artistic advisor to the Margie Gillis Dance Foundation, choreographing numerous solos. Her Mara, a soulful work full of drama and larger-than-life sweeping gestures, became Gillis's signature piece.

Many of Stephanie Ballard's works have been seen live at dance festivals across Canada. Others have been filmed and televised. Among these are various incarnations of WCD's George, and Mara, which was part of the CBC TV's Wild Hearts In Strange Times featuring Gillis (1996).

Contributing to Community

In Winnipeg, Ballard became increasingly active in community projects like the cross-Canada Learning Through the Arts (2001-04). She became archivist for SCD and WCD in 2000 and 2001 respectively. This led to the Legacy Dance Project in 1997 and the Winnipeg Dance Preservation Initiative in 2006. These raise public awareness for Winnipeg dance, activities she calls her "Life Long Legacy Project" - advocating and cataloguing dance in the city.

Honours

A career highlight for Ballard was in 1982 when she presented liturgical dance for Mother Teresa at the Winnipeg Stadium, in honour of the 1979 Nobel Prize winner who received the St. Boniface Hospital Research Foundation's International Award before a crowd of thousands.

Stephanie Ballard's awards include the 1986 Jacqueline Lemieux prize (1986), the Jean A. Chalmers Award (1985), the Clifford E. Lee Choreography Award, Banff (1982), and third prize in the International Choreographic Competition in Koln, Germany (1986).

Stephanie Ballard retired from the stage in 2004. She counts WCD founder Rachel Browne and the late ROYAL WINNIPEG BALLET director Arnold SPOHR as her mentors.