Judith Marcuse Dance Collection: Special Collections and Rare Books

Access the digital collection or visit in person

With the generous financial support of Irving K. Barber Learning Centre's "B.C. History Digitization Program," nearly 900 items from the Judith Marcuse Dance Collection have been selected, digitized and put online with descriptive metadata.

This collection includes photographs, posters, promotional materials and newsletters.

Ice performers group shot
"ICE: beyond cool" - performance or rehearsal, 1997. Image: MSC181-172

Collection history

Judith Marcuse's practice in Canada took root in 1980 with the establishment of the Judith Marcuse Dance Projects Society. Her training combined modern dance influences from the first wave of 20th century pioneers with a traditional classical ballet education at the Royal Ballet School in London.

Her performing career was diverse, ranging from contracts with big-scale companies like Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, to assignments with smaller troupes in Israel, Switzerland and the United States, to a period with London's Ballet Rambert, known at the time as a cauldron for choreographic experimentation.

While performing with Ballet Rambert, Marcuse began to create dances, eventually settling in Vancouver in 1976. Marcuse's creative output was offered through entities such as the Judith Marcuse Dance Projects Society and the Repertory Dance Company of Canada, which later became the Judith Marcuse Dance Company.

The Judith Marcuse fonds is more than a dance archives: it is an archives that traces the shift in the way we think about art, from dance for the sake of dance, to dance intended to change the world. Its significance lies in the documentation of creative practice that has had an impact locally in Vancouver, nationally and internationally. Documenting Marcuse's entire career, these materials record changing ideas about the role of dance and art in the community and reveal trends in how art is made and viewed.  

Judith Marcuse in a dancing pose
"In concert" - studio shot, 1981-1983. Image: MSC181-216
A duet in a dancing pose
"Seascape" - studio shot, 1989. Image: MSC181-262


Marcuse choreographed a large body of her own work, commissioned the work of other choreographers, and presented existing work by choreographers who were new to Canadian audiences.

At the same time, she started to break ground with experimental forms of presentation beginning with the Kiss Project (1995 — 2000), and then multidisciplinary touring productions: ICE, FIRE and EARTH exploring themes of teen suicide, societal violence and environmental stewardship.

This curated digital collection documents Marcuse’s career from 1962-2009 highlighting various projects and performances, including:

  • Royal Ballet School-London
  • Ballets de Génève
  • Bat-Dor Dance Company of Israel
  • Ballet Rambert
  • Les Grands Ballets Canadiens
  • Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal
  • Judith Marcuse Dance Projects Society
  • The Repertory Dance Company of Canada
  • Judith Marcuse Dance Company
  • We Can Dance
  • ICE: beyond cool
  • EARTH=home
  • FIRE…where there's smoke
  • Kiss Project
  • DanceArts Vancouver
  • various dance festivals such as Banff Festival of Arts, Shaw Festival, Festival Concert Society, Canada Dance Festival
Performers jumping in Kiss presentation
Kiss Project - studio shot/promotional image, 1998. Image: MSC181-204


Judith Marcuse practicing in studio
Judith Marcuse studio practice, 1977. Image: MSC181-083