Dancer Peggy Baker wins Walter Carsen Prize

Internationally renowned Canadian dancer Peggy Baker has been hailed as "a brilliant creator, a generous teacher and a profoundly honest artist" after winning the Walter Carsen Prize.

Internationally renowned Canadian dancer Peggy Baker has been hailed as "a brilliant creator, a generous teacher and a profoundly honest artist" after winning the Walter Carsen Prize.

Baker, founder of Toronto's Dancemakers and Peggy Baker Dance Projects, was named winner of the $50,000 award on Wednesday by the Canada Council for the Arts. The award for excellence in the performing arts rotates among dance, music and theatre.

Baker, who has danced with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Mark Morris, had a 20-year career as a solo dancer. She is artist-in-residence at Canada's National Ballet School and director of Peggy Baker Dance Projects.

Her company has toured internationally and is known for its commitment to movement paired with live music.

The Edmonton-born dancer toured with Lar Lubovitch's celebrated New York company throughout the 1980s, and has collaborated with choreographers such Paul-André Fortier, James Kudelka and Doug Varone.

The jury who chose Baker for the prize paid tribute to her "huge presence and exquisite physicality in performance."

"Through her teaching, Peggy has imbued ballet students with a modern dance sensibility and esthetic; she has introduced new dance techniques and new ways of perceiving movement. Her artistry has been applauded by audiences in Canada and overseas. By continually reinventing herself, Peggy Baker sets a new standard for the art of dance," the jury said in its citation.

Baker has won a Governor General's Award for Performing Arts and is a member of the Order of Canada.