University of Calgary

Marie France Forcier

  • Associate Professor

Research Interests



Originally trained at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre and having subsequently completed a Master of Fine Arts in Dance at York University, Marie France Forcier draws on her extensive experience as a choreographer and artistic director of Forcier Stage Works in her career as Assistant Professor in the School of Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Calgary. 

Over the past 15 years, her body of choreographic work has been commissioned by dance festivals, presenters, professional training schools, companies, film-makers and children theatres, and seen across North America, Europe and Asia.

As a physical practitioner, she has worked for various companies and toured extensively on four continents; performing in disciplines ranging from performance art to family theatricals, to aerial circus to contemporary dance.

The bulk of her recent work explores Post-Traumatic Stress and its resulting effects on the body choreographically, both in methods, performance and aesthetics. 

Forcier is internationally active in the emergent field of Trauma Studies and continues to lead the way in developing new ways of thinking about the intersection of trauma and artistic practice.


My work is largely influenced by my social sensitivities and ongoing interest in psychology. Since the inception of my choreographic career, the workings of the human mind and their application to our physical interactions with one another have been a constant source of inspiration. I am fascinated by the ways in which, as a species, we succeed and fail at coexistence. While completing my graduate studies, I started developing a specific interest in the expression of post-traumatic symptomatology in choreographic methods and aesthetics; a matter that has since remained at the core of my academic pursuits.

In recent years, I have been predominantly interested in developing movement-generating methods based on pairing event-recall with somatic awareness. Creative processes for recent works such as Little Guidebook for Using your Suffering Wisely (dance: made in Canada, 2015) and The Peahen (Pro-Series, 2016) have relied on this memory-triggered physical impulse-following methodology, at diverse stages of development. Aesthetically speaking,  the detailing and intent of a performer’s visual foci are factors that I have investigated in depth via trauma-related choreographic contexts– especially when applied to the performance of dissociative states, such as in The Snow Globe (York Dance Ensemble, 2014). When creating Scars are All the Rage, (DanceWorks/NextSteps 2015) staging abuse-related trauma survivors’ fragmented and graphic inner-narratives was the driving force.

The discussion on trauma-related Art’s politics of presentation is also part of my scholarship, one that I have recently brought forth at the 6th Global Interdisciplinary Summit on Trauma Studies.

Selection of recently research-related presented works

The Peahen (2016)
University Theatre, Calgary
January 2016
Choreography: Marie France Forcier in consultation with Linnea Swan
Performance: Linnea Swan
Costume and Set: Marie France Forcier in collaboration with Linnea Swan
Sound: James Bunton
Lighting Design: Steve Isom

Little Guidebook for Using Your Suffering Wisely (2015)
Betty Oliphant Theatre, Toronto, August 2015
Choreography & Performance: Marie France Forcier
Composition and sound engineering: James Bunton
Lighting Design: Gabriel Cropley
Presented by: dance: made in Canada Mainstage

Scars are All the Rage (2015)
Harbourfront Centre Theatre, Toronto, March 2015
Choreography: Marie France Forcier
Performance: Justine Comfort, Molly Johnson, Louis Laberge-Côté
Composition: James Bunton
Costumes: Marie France Forcier
Lighting Design: Gabriel Cropley
Artistic Advisor: Julia Sasso
Funded by: The Canada Council for the Arts, Toronto Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council, Private Donors
Presented by: DanceWorks Mainstage

The Snow Globe (2014)
Faire and Fecan Theatre, Toronto, March 2014
Choreography: Marie France Forcier
Composition: James Bunton
Performance: York Dance Ensemble

LAB RATS (2013)
Site-Specific Work --
Hub 14, Toronto January 2013
Choreography: Marie France Forcier
Composition: James Bunton (Dora Nomination)
Performance:  Molly Johnson (Dora Award). Heather MacPhail, Brendan Wyatt
Lighting Design: Marie France Forcier
Outside Eye: Julia Sasso
Funded by:  the Toronto Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council and Private Donors
In collaboration with: DanceWorks CoWorks

Facts of Influence (2010)
Double Bill Presented at The Winchester Street Theatre (Toronto), April 2010
Produced by Forcier Stage Works
BLISS by commissioned choreographer Sharon Moore (Dora Nomination)
Gold by Marie France Forcier
Composer (Both Works): James Bunton
Cast: Marie France Forcier, Molly Johnson, Erika Howard, Heather MacPhail, Brendan Wyatt
Lighting Design: Gabriel Cropley
Funded by: The Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council & Private Donors
Presented in collaboration with DanceWorks Co-works. 

Passageways to Diluted Happiness (2008)
Winchester Street Theatre (Toronto)
Choreography: Marie France Forcier
Composer: James Bunton
Cast: Molly Johnson, Heather MacPhail, Danielle O'Reilly, Nicle Rush, Brendan Wyatt
Co-Presented with DanceWorks Co-Works
Funded by: The Canada Council for the Arts & Private Donors

Nucleus (2007)
Double bill of Marie France Forcier's choreography, presented at The Winchester Street Theatre (Toronto), February 20-22, 2007.
In Complete Cycles (2005)
Nucleus (2007)
Composer (for Both Works): James Bunton
Cast: Marie France Forcier, Heather MacPhail, Danielle O'Reilly, Nicole Rush, Brendan Wyatt
Co-Presented by DanceWorks Co-Works
Funded by: The Toronto Arts Council, The Ontario Arts Council.


Playing Teacher was one of my favourite games as a young child: I remember sitting my little brother behind a makeshift desk, quizzing him on his ABC’s, and drawing a little star for him when he did well. As I grew older and developed a distinct interest in dance, my “classroom” morphed into a “studio”, where I taught various friends the steps to my first choreographic attempts. This propensity for transmitting knowledge has stuck with me into adulthood, becoming a defining part of who I am.

As a dance educator, my teaching philosophy primarily aims at developing physical and verbal articulation, facilitating creativity, and guiding students to develop autonomy in their physical training choices. In the studio/classroom, I foster a two-way learning experience: I am there to educate the students, and they, there to provide me and one another with insight on what they are deducting and creating from the course material. To me, Art is a communicative mean, and aspiring artists should be taught to treat it as such, not only to refine their artistry, but also to develop the ability to talk about it eloquently and meaningfully.

It is important to me that students perceive the studio/classroom as an environment where they are safe to explore within a structure and where they are welcome to make “mistakes”. Teachable moments often emerge from their trial-and-errors, and I believe that there is much to be gained from allowing for improvisation and adaptability in my teaching methods.

Having received my formal training in a highly hierarchized educational environment, witnessing the devastating effects of negative reinforcement and do-as-I say practices and on a dancer’s spirit over time has cemented respect as my most prized pedagogic value. This manifests in the investement I make in my students’ emotional and physical wellbeing throughout the duration of their studies.

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