Marlise McCormick is an expert storyteller, not only through words but through the even more compelling combination of movement, music, and visual imagery. Based in Vancouver but working around the world, she has choreographed, designed and/or directed everything from large-scale, live-broadcast events with casts of thousands and huge international audiences, to powerful solos and intimate duets for die-hard dance fans in tiny black-box theatres. She is also in demand as a movement director and designer for stage, film, and television, and as a movement teacher for dancers, actors, singers, and circus performers.
Written by Canadian Arts writer Robin J. Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org)
At six feet tall, with a mass of curly dark hair, Marlise McCormick has always stood out –– first as a star dance student in Ottawa and New York, where she studied at the Martha Graham and Alvin Ailey schools and the Limón Dance Institute, and later as a professional dancer with both Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal and her own Montréal-based dance company, Éviedanse.
Today, Marlise continues to stand out, but for far more than her height or her fabulous hair.
Large live-broadcast events
In 1988, the same year Marlise took Éviedanse on an extensive tour through Europe and the Middle East, she was invited to choreograph the Montréal Expos season-opening ceremony, the first of three she created for the MLB franchise. She has since been hired to work on a string of eye-catching live-broadcast events around the world. This has included working as:
- Associate Choreographer and Assistant to the Director for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, British Columbia
- Designer, Director, and Choreographer for the 2007 and 2008 Opening Ceremonies of the International European Dance Festival, held in Tilburg, The Netherlands
- Associate Director of Choreography for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games
- Designer and Choreographer for the 2012 FIFA World Cup Opening Ceremony in Baku, Azerbaijan, which featured the world-renowned Cirque du Soleil performing alongside a cast of 600 local performers
- Choreographer for the 2012 International Earth Day celebrations in Montréal, working with a mass cast of 300,000, and
- Co-Writer/Creator –– with Istanbul-based illusionist Ahmet Bayman and the award-winning Illusionist Digital Arts Company –– for Tajikistan’s 2018 Independence Day Presidential Ceremony.
More intimate productions
At the same time, Marlise has never lost her love for more intimate productions, in a variety of spaces. She is equally at home in local theatres and on television and film sets, in big tops, convention centres, and stadiums, and has, to provide just a few examples, choreographed, designed and/or directed for:
- Eleven Cirque du Soleil special event shows in Russia, Africa, the US, and Canada
- Contemporary, classical, modern, and jazz dance companies in Canada, the US, and Europe
- The David Foster Foundation Variety Show
- 20th Century Fox’s television version of The Minority Report, based on the Tom Cruise movie
- Various Vancouver stage companies, including Seven Tyrants Theatre, New Image College, and Axis Theatre, known for its international hit The Number 14, as well as the University of British Columbia Theatre Department
- Toronto’s Zero Gravity Circus Productions, and
- The musicals Grease and A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Canada, Café Diablo in The Netherlands, and Tinsel in the UK.
And there’s more
Fluent in French and English, Marlise began teaching dance while a member of Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal. She is a Certified Teacher of the Lynn Simonson Modern Dance Technique and has served on the faculty of dance companies and schools around the globe, teaching classical, contemporary, modern, and jazz. She also teaches movement for actors, singers, and circus performers.
Marlise has been artist-in-residence for Axis Theatre and The Underground Circus in Vancouver, and for The Netherlands’ Fontys University of the Arts, where she choreographed contemporary ballets and musical theatre productions for Fontys Dance Academy, and developed circus acts and directed circus shows for Fontys Circus Arts.
Marlise holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music (Honours) from the University of Ottawa, and is a skilled musician who is able to read music and interpret orchestral scores.
- Network builder
Over the years, Marlise has built a tight network of performers, visual content producers, composers, lighting designers, sound engineers, set and costume designers, logistics and operations specialists, and cast co-ordinators that she can call on to help create memorable new productions –– large or small –– anywhere in the world, on time and on budget.
In 2021, Marlise continues to teach and to create new dance works; design and direct movement for TV, film and theatre; and develop circus projects. She just wrote and is directing a brand new circus show in Santiago, Chile, which will open October 2021, and is looking forward to presenting an exciting new contemporary circus production that is scheduled to tour Europe and Canada in 2023.