ImprovNotes April 2015 Artist of the Month: Margaret Dragu
Born in Regina, Saskatchewan in 1953, Margaret Dragu began her dance career studying under Dada-influenced Yone Kvietys Young of Calgary, and Alwin Nikolais and Murray Louis in New York City. Equally drawn to improvisation and chance operations, she writes that “eventually, after years of performing with musicians, poets, dancers, actors, I formed my own loose method. My improvisation ‘technique’ uses elements of modern dance, tap, flamenco; aerobic dancing, weight training, social dancing; and body movement / gestures derived from cultural / social research on specific subjects (e.g., Edith Piaf’s hand movements, seniors rolling shopping carts, etc.).” Her dance style grew to reflect elements of all these styles, and her work in Montreal and Toronto extended from striptease to aerobics. In 1988 Nightwood Editions published her book, co-authored with A.S.A. Harrison, Revelations: Essays in Striptease and Sexuality, and in 1994 ECW published Mothers Talk Back: Momz Radio, co-authored with Sarah Sheard. Dragu’s work is known for being interdisciplinary and site specific. She collaborates with other artists and sometimes, the public, but in a video produced by the Canada Council, she says, “For me, the body is my tool. It doesn’t matter whether I’m taking a photograph, or making a video, or doing a radio presentation, or I’m working on the web, or I’m doing something interactive, or I’m performing, it doesn’t matter, the body, it comes back to the body, or being embodied, even if the body is not really in the forefront.”
Margaret Dragu’s work is often based strongly in activism, whether feminist, environmental, social or otherwise. She won the 2012 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, and continues to live in Vancouver, variously adopting the personae Lady Justice, Verb Woman, Art Cinderella, and Nuestra Señora del Pan.