Margaret Dragu is a Vancouver-based multidisciplinary artist who has been making art since the early 1970s. Dragu is known for her work as a performance artist, dancer/choreographer, writer, and video artist.
Margaret Dragu was born in Regina, Saskatchewan in 1953. Her family moved to Calgary when she was still a young child and it was there that she began taking dance classes in 1969 from Yone Kvietys Young, who infused movement with elements of Dada. Two years later, Dragu moved to New York City where she danced with Laura Foreman’s company. However, Dragu soon learned not suited for the life of a conventional modern dancer. She moved to Montreal and later Toronto, becoming a burlesque dancer, transforming the work of a “striptease artist” into her own unique brand of art performance. During this time she became affiliated with a number of Toronto artist-run collectives, and she attempted to organize around strippers’ rights by forming a short-lived union called the Canadian Association for BurlesqueEntertainers. In 1986, Dragu relocated to British Columbia. She continued her work as a dancer, actor, and performance artist, also branching out into film creation and video art. Some of her artwork involved the adoption of recurring personas: Nuestra Señora del Pan, Lady Justice, Verb Woman and Art Cinderella. She has toured extensively across Canada, as well as to Germany and the Netherlands. She has collaborated with artists and organizations such as Tom Dean, Susan Macpherson, Randy Gledhill, The Western Front, and Breakthrough Films. In addition to her work as an artist, Dragu is also employed as a fitness trainer. She created a radio show called Momz Radio, which focused on interviews with women about their experiences of motherhood. She has co-authored or contributed to multiple books, including ‘Revelations: Essays on Striptease and Sexuality’ (1988) and ‘Mothers Talk Back: Momz Radio’ (1991).
Dragu’s work draws on and explores class, feminism, motherhood, sexual politics, community-engagedpractices, personae, and political engagement. In 2012, she was among the recipients of the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts. “I’ve always been poor. I’m what you call a working-class artist and I’m really proud of that,” she told The Georgia Straight at the time. “It’s kind of part of my value system and my core belief that you can make art anywhere.”
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