Jarvis, Judy (1942–1986) By Anderson, Carol
Judy Jarvis, a choreographer, dancer, and teacher, was a significant figure within the Canadian modern dance community. Following early dance studies in Toronto, she spent two years at the Mary Wigman School in Berlin, and considered Wigman her mentor. On her return to Canada, she launched a solo career, and soon opened a Toronto studio, starting a school as well as the Judy Jarvis Dance and Theatre Company. From 1967 to 1983, she worked with numerous dancers, creating and touring across Canada and to the Edinburgh Festival. In 1974, Jarvis was the first modern-dance winner of the prestigious Jean A. Chalmers Award for Choreography.
Her significant works include Bird (1967, later renamed Flight), Clouds (1972), and People…People (1974). Jarvis’s work became increasingly theatrical and difficult to categorize, contributing to the Company’s 1983 loss of funding. Jarvis disbanded her company in 1983, and spent her final years teaching dramatic arts at Madonna High School. She is remembered through the legacy of her influential teaching; through remounts, including Bird/Flight, which was performed by Denise Fujiwara in 1986, and by Gina Lori Riley Dance Enterprise in 1989 of Clouds, People…People, Three Women, and other works; and repertoire performed by the Danny Grossman Dance Company. The Judy Jarvis Foundation, established in 1988, protects Jarvis’s work.