Gioconda Barbuto is an internationally esteemed Italian-Canadian dancer and choreographer. She was a long-time member of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, dancing with the company for sixteen years, and of Nederlands Dans Theater III for eight years. Recognized by many for her exceptional versatility and magnetism as a performer and soloist, she boldly embodied work by the most influential ballet and contemporary choreographers of the past few centuries: Kylián, Naharin, Balanchine, Fokine, Limón, van Manen, Duato, Nault, Morris, Tudor, and theatre director Robert Wilson. During her company career, she worked with essential Canadian makers including Judith Marcuse, Brian Macdonald, Christopher House, Ginette Laurin, Paul-André Fortier, Jeanne Renaud, and James Kudelka. Her synergy in studio with Jiří Kylián, in particular, led to a fruitful body of work, including Birth Day and Car Men, two celebrated dance films.
Since emerging as an independent artist, Barbuto has made many notable contributions to the Canadian contemporary dance milieu. She performed frequently with Margie Gillis, most recently in M.Body.7; co-created and performed Lifelines with Emily Molnar; and self-produced the solo Respiro. Most recently, she collaborated with Joe Laughlin on his new quartet 4OUR, with a successful tour of Atlantic Canada.
In 1994, Danse-Cité selected Barbuto for its Traces-Interprètes production, affording her an opportunity to exploit her burgeoning artistic vision. Since making Chiaroscuro for the Banff Festival Ballet in 1996, she has unflaggingly pursued her choreographic calling. Marked by her innate eye for complex and fluid form, and her natural musicality, her choreography harnesses the synergy of its performers. She creates detailed, dynamic friezes of full-bodied gesture. Barbuto’s oeuvre now counts over fifty works, among them solos, duets, group pieces, and films.
Dozens of internationally acclaimed dance companies have invited her to create work for and with their dancers. Her pieces have been performed by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Ballet BC, Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal, Alberta Ballet, Minnesota Dance Theatre, NW Dance Project, Ballet Kelowna, YOU dance / The National Ballet of Canada, Ballet Jörgen, and Nederlands Dans Theater Choreographic Workshop. In 2015 Gioconda received the McKnight International (choreographer) Artist Fellow and returned to Minnesota—where her career began in 1977—to create FOOTPRINT, a “stark and poignant” work for TU Dance. She also recently obtained one of the choreographic positions for Oregon Ballet Theater’s Choreography XX competition creating BRINGINGOUTSIDEIN — named “best in premiere” in Dance Europe Magazine from the success of the June 2017 performances and to be restaged in their 2018-19 season for Director’s Choice.
In recent years, Barbuto has been extending her intimate understanding of the language of movement to professional and pre-professional dancers, actors, singers and circus artists across the world. Through her Movement Workshops and choreography, Barbuto shares a collaborative approach to creation and methods for moulding space and energy kinetically. She has been invited to higher education institutions such as Harvard, The Juilliard School, Simon Fraser University, the Dutch National Ballet Academy and recently Alonzo King Lines Training program. Over many years, she has developed strong ties to Arts Umbrella Dance in Vancouver and has frequently taught and choreographed for the students at L’École supérieure de ballet du Québec, Ballet Divertimento and the École nationale de cirque (National Circus School), where she created and directed the year end graduating circus production, L’Abri. Her Movement Workshops have also been sought after by TransFormation Danse, Danse a la Carte, Rubberbandance SDI and professional dancers, actors, circus artists, and vocalists worldwide.
Over her lifetime, Barbuto’s achievements have been recognized by several provincial and national grants for choreographic production, by a nomination for The Kennedy Center Fellowship, and by The Banff Centre’s 1996 Clifford E. Lee Award. She completed her training with full scholarships at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School and The Banff Centre, and under the tutelage of Gladys Forrester in her natal city, Toronto, Canada.
Gioconda Barbuto shares her creative life in Montréal with her husband, the renowned dance photographer Michael Slobodian.
1 Caroline Palmer, “TU Dance troupe taut with an urban edge,” Star Tribune, November 22, 2015. http://www.startribune.com/review-tu-dance-troupe-taut-with-an-urban-edge/352764511/