January 11, 2013: The School of Dance is proud to announce Artistic Director Merrilee Hodgins will receive the prestigious Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. Senator Jim Munson will present the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal to Miss Hodgins on Friday, January 18, 2013 at The School of Dance in the Celia Franca Studio. The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal recognizes Miss Hodgins’ dedicated service to her peers, her community, and to the world of dance.
Miss Hodgins is being recognized for her tireless work in arts education. For more than 34 years, she has focused on reaching out into the Ottawa community giving a broad spectrum of citizens the opportunity to experience the joy of dance.
The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, created to mark the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty's accession to the Throne, is a tangible way for Canada to honour Her Majesty for her service to this country. At the same time, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal serves to honour significant contributions and achievements by Canadians.
Merrilee Hodgins, the Co-founder and Artistic Director of The School of Dance, studied in Canada, England, Denmark, Germany and the United States. In 1971, Merrilee was awarded the prestigious Solo Seal of the Royal Academy of Dance. In 1973 she became principal dancer with the Alberta Ballet Company, later working in Denmark, Germany and the U.S. as a freelance artist. Miss Hodgins, a recipient of the YM-YWCA’s 1997 Women of Distinction Award, was the 1997 Chair of the City of Ottawa’s Cultural Leadership Committee, was a member of the board of directors for Dance Ontario, and has been awarded Canada Council grants to research and develop projects to introduce children to dance. Merrilee Hodgins is a Director of the Celia Franca Foundation and she regularly collaborates with a wide-range of organizations such as the Ontario Arts Council, the National Arts Centre, the National Gallery of Canada, Carleton University, the Cultural Human Resource Council and the Hnatyshyn Foundation. Miss Hodgins developed The School’s suite of inclusive programmes including Shall We Dance? in the hospitals of Eastern Ontario, DragonFly for learners with Down syndrome, the Dance of Life Health and Wellness programme and Dancing in the Street which takes place throughout the City of Ottawa each summer. Her recent artistic projects include choreographic commissions from the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, a collaboration with Canadian poet Susan McMaster, and a commission to produce a concert version of Stravinsky’s Firebird for the Brott Music Festival in Hamilton, Ontario.