Karen Jamieson


“I was born in Vancouver in 1946.

My mother grew up on a farm on Bowen Island. My family spent great deal of time on that farm and I was strongly influenced by the spiritual values of my maternal grandparents.

My father’s mother was Laura Jamieson, a founding member of the Canadian Commonwealth Federation, a suffragette, a juvenile court judge and an MLA.

My family would accompany my father on his research trips through BC. We would camp in fields, or stay in motels while my father did his research for a book on the Doukhobors of the Kootenays. We camped on the reservations while my father did research all along the Skeena River for his book on “The Indians of British Columbia”. I was close to Haida Elder Percy Gladstone as I was growing up.

Discussions of social justice, economics, class structure, culture and values were frequent in the house.

My childhood house was on Norland Avenue in Burnaby, semi rural at the time, fields overgrown with bushes and trees running all the way down to Still Creek which was still running at that time and still alive. I caught frogs in the ditches that ran parallel to the fields and into the creek. My friend and I found a raft once and drifted down Still Creek and found crayfish. I had a brood of chickens, each of whom had a name and they laid eggs. Industry moved into Burnaby and we moved to Kerrisdale. Today there is no sign of the creek, the ditches, the frogs, the fields, the trees, where we played; it has been completely obliterated and paved over.”

Karen Jamieson

After receiving a BA in Philosophy and Anthropology from the University of British Columbia, Karen Jamieson began dancing at Simon Fraser University. She went on to receive her major dance training in New York City, studying modern techniques of Alwin Nikolais, Merce Cunningham and Martha Graham as well as ballet with Alfredo Corvino and Maggie Black.Dancer

She performed with Yvonne Rainer and Phyllus Lamhut and was a member of the Alwin Nikolais Company and toured the U.S.Returning to Vancouver, she taught at Simon Fraser University and co- founded the experimental movement collective, Terminal City Dance – where she studied the physical theatre techniques of Jerzy Growtowski.

A recipient of the Chalmers award for choreography, she established the Karen Jamieson Dance Company in 1983. Her work Sisyphus was recognized in Canada’s Dance Collection Danse magazine as one of the top ten Canadian Choreographic Masterworks of the 20th Century. She is listed in the British Columbia Encyclopaedia, the Encyclopaedia of Theatre Dance in Canada, among others.

Since 1996, the foundation of her dance practice has been Vijnana yoga, studying 10 years with Gioia Irwin and Orit Sen Gupta. In the last year she has begun to integrate the principles of tensegrity anatomy into her Vijnana/dance practice.

Karen Jamieson Dance Company

Karen Jamieson’s vision is to reveal the power of dance as an art form with potential to transform, engage, captivate, heal, and to impart knowledge available only to the dancing body; believing the power of contemporary dance transcends cultures, languages, histories and traditions by connecting us all at a very primal level.

Karen Jamieson Dance under the artistic direction of Karen Jamieson was formed in 1983. Karen has created over 93 original dance works with original scores by over 20 respected Canadian composers, performed in Canada, Europe, Japan and the United States. Her work, Sisyphus was named one of the 10 Canadian choreographic masterworks of the 20th century and multi-year projects with the Haida village of Skidegate BC and with the residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside are recognized nationally as groundbreaking in the field of community engaged and cross cultural dance.

Karen Jamieson Dance Company