Her devotion helps Edmonton’s contemporary dance landscape flourish
Job Title: Incoming Artistic Director, Brian Webb Dance Company
Ainsley Hillyard found empowerment through dance since being enrolled in baby ballet at age five.
“It was a way to be physical in the world that just made sense,” she says, from her softly lit office at the Shumka Dance Centre downtown, her French bulldog, Jezebel, snoozing in the corner. “There was a freedom and creativity in being a physical creature.”
Hillyard, 39, graduated from Victoria School of the Arts, earned a dance diploma from MacEwan and a degree from the University of Winnipeg in affiliation with the School of Contemporary Dancers. She is a co-founder of the Good Women Dance Collective, and next July will transition to a new role as artistic director of the Brian Webb Dance Company.
Hillyard is committed to making dance more accessible and inclusive, and is co-creator of Carbon Movements. Produced in collaboration with Deaf performer Connor Yuzwenko-Martin, the silent show uses vibration to offer the same experience to Deaf and hearing audiences.
“Art is a beautiful and soft way of changing the world and people’s minds. You see something on stage that affects you, and you think about it after. It’s a delicate, one-person-at-a-time system that shapes our culture, and shapes who we are as humans.”