news, updates, and conversations from Volcano Theatre

Thursday, 11 July 2013

On Peggy Baker

ROSS MANSON: I first got to know Peggy Baker just over a decade ago while building a show with Kate Alton called Mortality. We asked several famous writers to each address their own mortality in monologue form. we were putting together a dance theatre piece — scored by John Gzowski — that spoke to the great divide we will all cross over. Each writer was paired with a dancer. I cold-called Carol Shields and, to my shocked delight, she said yes.

Carol Shields
Carol was paired with Peggy. The haunting irony of this is that it was during the development of the show that Carol was diagnosed with cancer, and given only a limited time to live. She threw out the piece she had been working on for us, and began another, detailing her own death (which can be found in Brick Magazine, issue 72). Carol was a gift to us all: her humour, her wisdom, her utter lack of ego, her curiosity.

Peggy Baker in Mortality
Photo by John Lauener
Peggy was the perfect artist to realize Carol's words through movement and voice, bringing her own considerable wisdom and depth of insight to the topic. This was a very special time for me, meeting and working with two of the country's greatest artists, who seemed light-years ahead of me in terms of artistry. I watched the serious, dedicated, yet light way they both had of going deep.

Carol never saw Peggy dance her words, but Peggy's performance of them changed my life. I've seen Peggy's own work get more and more refined and shimmering over the years. I've been influenced heavily by her opinions, her dancing, and have watched her teach her masterful classes with a sense of awe at what she can inspire in students. if you can, study with her. she is a rare and exquisite thing.

Visit to learn more about Peggy's class, Movement for Actors, and other courses at the Volcano Conservatory. To register, email

No comments:

Post a Comment