Vancouver-based choreographer, artistic director and dance teacher Anna Wyman has died.
Wyman was a pioneer in the development of modern dance in Canada, and the leader of the first contemporary dance company from the Western world to tour China.
Through the ‘70s and ‘80s, she led one of Canada’s foremost modern-dance companies, the Anna Wyman Dance Theatre. Company tours included India, Southeast Asia, Australia, Europe, Mexico.
She created a total of 39 works on themes of social, political and spiritual topics.
The Anna Wyman Dance Theatre ceased operations in 1990, leaving Wyman to focus on managing the Anna Wyman School of Dance Arts in West Vancouver. The school celebrated its 50th anniversary with past December with a concert at North Vancouver’s Centennial Theatre.
“She was a foundational matriarch of a mini-dynasty of dance in Canada,” said her ex-husband Max Wyman, a dance critic, biographer and historian.
As a choreographer, she was known for blending ballet with contemporary dance, and incorporated guided dance improvisation from performers. Productions often included innovative technical elements in light, film, video and lasers. She collaborated with many prominent composers and artists, among them Jack Shadbolt, Toni Onley, Sylvia Tait and John Mills-Cockell.
Born in Austria, Wyman began dance lessons at the age of four. In her teens, she joined the Graz Opera Ballet company and the State Opera in Vienna. She studied with Austro-Hungarian movement theorist Rudolf von Laban, whose influence on modern dance extended to Canada after she moved in 1967.
Wyman served as an advisor and jury member for the Canada Council’s dance division, and was an advisor to the British Columbia Arts Council. She was the recipient of numerous awards, including the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award for Arts and Culture. She was inducted into the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame, and a star on the sidewalk outside the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver bears her name.
Wyman died at Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, on Saturday, July 11, following a heart attack at 92. She leaves a son, Trevor Wyman, and a daughter, Gabrielle Capewell.