Recognizing the achievements of BC dance artists.
The dearly-loved and highly acclaimed Vancouver artist/choreographer Lola MacLaughlin died too young of ovarian cancer at 57 in March 2009. It was her great wish that she leave a legacy award that would honour and assist a respected and veteran choreographer whose work was in the spirit of her own – thoughtful, inventive, experimental, collaborative, and interdisciplinary. In April 2009, Lola’s husband Tony Giacinti and The Lola MacLaughlin Dance Society created the Lola Legacy Fund. By June 2010, the fund had seeded The Lola Award, created in partnership with The Dance Centre. The funds for the award rest with the Vancouver Foundation and the award is administered by The Dance Centre. The value of the award is $10,000 and it is given every second year.
Recipients to date are Crystal Pite (2012), Lee Su-Feh (2014), Rosario Ancer (2016), Justine A. Chambers (2018), Paras Terezakis (2020) and Helen Walkley (2022).
The Lola award recipient will be a mid-career or senior level choreographer, highly respected by his or her peers, who has demonstrated an adventurous willingness to push beyond the boundaries of movement/dance performance into collaborative, interdisciplinary work that draws on elements of spoken word, theatre, video, design, visual arts, music composition and/or other media. The award will facilitate the seeker, the collaborators and the avant-garde among the performing and visual arts community. Lola MacLaughlin was known for her “total art work”, or Gesamtkunstwerk as it is known in German, and it is this approach that The Lola will nurture. The award recipient will have demonstrated an intelligent, worldly and humanistic sensibility in keeping with the Gesamtkunstwerk principle that art matters; that every individual is psychologically uplifted by exposure to art and creative practice. The award competition is open to Canadian choreographers although preference may be given to residents of British Columbia.
Lola’s choreography was informed and influenced by a profound sense of place, and a deep reverence and respect for the natural world, its patterns and logic. At the same time, she was a keen observer of the human condition and with humour, wit, melancholy, elegance and intelligence; she explored both the universal and the familiar — the wider questions of all of existence and everyday moments. She was a deeply compassionate artist with a strong sense of conscience. She approached her creative work holistically by considering both the visual and emotional whole and by making her art work total (Gesamtkunstwerk). She regularly worked collaboratively with music composers, visual artists, poets, videographers, stage managers, set and lighting designers, sound artists, costume designers and, of course, her beloved dancers. While she had the remarkable ability to think broadly and largely, she was acclaimed for her incisive and highly professional attention to detail and excellence. In every way, she was a consummate professional.
Prior to her life in dance, Lola MacLaughlin was a student of biology and psychology and was briefly a singer in a German rock band while she studied at the Freie Universitat in Berlin. In 1980, she graduated from the dance program at Simon Fraser University where she was introduced to Robin Blaser, Phyllis Lamut and Jeff Wall. She continued her training in New York, Toronto and Vancouver. Later, she returned to Germany where she was influenced by the punk movement of the early 80s, German Expressionism (painters Emile Nolde, Gerhard Richter and Anselm Keifer) and the dance theatre movement of Pina Bausch and Susanna Linke. Her interest in the work of P. D. Ouspensky and her conversion to Russian Orthodoxy also informed her art. Her first works were performed by EDAM (Experimental Dance and Music), a radical Vancouver performance collective that she co-founded in 1983. In 1989, she founded Lola Dance, and over the next two decades the company wove together the rich strands of Lola’s eclectic background with new influences, such as Robert Lepage, in a remarkable range of productions; among them Princess Infanta; Four Solos, Four Cities; Fuse; Volio and Provincial Essays. Some of these productions toured Canada; others were staged at major dance festivals here and in Europe.
Lola MacLaughlin’s fascination with human nature led her to complete an MA in Counseling Psychology at The University of British Columbia in 2005. Her diverse body of over 50 works has been recognized by The Banff Centre’s Clifford E. Lee Award in 1992, The Canada Council’s Jacqueline Lemieux Prize in 1994, the 2003 CanDance Commission, The Isadora Award 2007, and The Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award in 2009. She was an inspiration to audiences, young dancers and choreographers and implemented many workshops and mentoring programs such as the Susanna Linke workshops (2005, 2007) and The Lola Project in Victoria (2009, 2010). Documentation and artifacts from Lola’s work are now held in the archives of Dance Collection Dance in Toronto. Lola MacLaughlin: A Life in Dance, a collection of essays and photos about Lola’s work was published in 2010.
The next call for nominations will open in late 2023.