2009/10: Widening the Circle with Liz Lerman

October 13, 2009 - October 22, 2009

Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue presented Liz Lerman with the 2009 Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue for "a lifetime of outstanding leadership, creativity, and dedication to melding dialogue with dance." As part of the Blaney Award, Ms. Lerman was a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Dialogue from October 13 to 22, and participated in numerous workshops, dialogues and performances, all filled to capacity. The gala event at the Scotiabank Dance Centre included the award presentation, an animated keynote performance, and a reception.

About Liz

Liz Lerman is a choreographer, performer, writer, educator and speaker. Described by the Washington Post as “the source of an epochal revolution in the scope and purposes of dance art,” her dance and theatre works have been commissioned by the Lincoln Center, Harvard Law School and the Kennedy Center, among many others. She founded Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in 1976 and has cultivated the company’s unique multi-generational ensemble into a leading force in contemporary dance. Her lifetime achievements include the award of a 2002 MacArthur "Genius Grant" Fellowship. An interdisciplinary artist, dialogue-maker and visionary, Liz Lerman continues to influence and enrich the ways we think about the role of art in our lives.


  • Critical Response Workshop: Ms. Lerman engaged participants in constructive dialogue about their artistic works in progress and learned about the values of observation, neutral inquiry and measured opinion in a supportive environment.
  • Public Performance of LINK Dance Foundation’s Experiments: SFU Centre for Dialogue and LINK Dance Foundation presented a preview of Experiments (see below), a full-length dance piece exploring the link between art and science.
  • Tools for Storytelling - Connecting Our Bodies to Our Ideas: Participants explored the dynamic between information and feeling in an afternoon of creative exploration and movement. The workshop empowered artists to express their ideas in tangible and visceral new ways.
  • Conversations, Questions and Freefall - A Public Dialogue: Liz Lerman teamed up with Judith Marcuse from the International Centre for Art and Social Change and special guest Arlene Goldbard to lead a discussion on how art practices enrich and inform every corner of our communities. Ms. Lerman also previewed excerpts from her book entitled Hiking the Horizontal which explores Liz Lerman’s life-long exploration of dance as a vehicle for human insight and understanding of the world around us.


LINK Dance's full-length production captures the creativity, experimentation and intuition that scientists and artists employ in understanding the world around them. Based on three years of research between dancers and behavioural ecologists (who study the non-verbal communication of animals), Experiments interlaces sound, video, lighting and movemement into a show that ignites curiosity. This production was completed in partnership with SFU's Centre for Dialogue and featured Fellow and former academic director, Mark Winston, as one of the performing scientists.

Select Media & Commentary

Choreographer Liz Lerman wins Blaney Award
SFU News, September 5, 2009

Choreographer Liz Lerman to receive SFU’s Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue
The Georgia Straight, October 7, 2009

Creativity: The case of Liz Lerman
The Vancouver Observer, November 4, 2009

Community Partners


The Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue is presented to an individual who exemplifies, internationally, the spirit and programs of SFU's Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue. Recipients of the award have demonstrated excellence and accomplishments in using dialogue to further complex issues of public importance.