Gill Civil is a New Zealander who got her start in dance accompaniment around 1980 playing morning classes for “Limbs” – New Zealand’s top Modern dance company at the time. It was here that Gill first learned how to use her improvisational skills on the piano and other instruments in inspired and spontaneous dance settings. Visiting New York choreographer, John McLaughlin had this to say about Gill:
“The variety of sounds and clear rhythms produced while accompanying my modern dance classes has always served to stimulate and inform about the new possibilities of music and dance relationships.”
Although Gill is a classically trained pianist, she has always had a fascination with a wide array of musical styles. During the early eighties, while attending the Conservatory of Music at the University of Auckland, she not only composed and played for dance but also toured and made records with several original contemporary rock bands. In addition she collaborated with others in performance projects ranging from street theatre to large multi-media productions on the stage. In her experimental music group “Marie and the Atom” Gill played instruments ranging from banjo to steel drums and attracted the attention of New Zealand’s Arts Council which helped fund the band’s innovative recordings.
In 1984 Gill accepted an invitation to travel overseas to play piano for the “Australian Ballet School” in Melbourne, Australia. However, she was very soon drawn to the “Victorian College of the Arts” where she accompanied Ballet and Modern Dance classes for the best of young Australian dance talent. The several years she spent in Melbourne were highly productive. She wrote three major dance performance pieces including a work for “The Australian Dance Theatre” and in 1986 toured as keyboardist for Australia’s foremost pop band of the time – “Crowded House”. She can be seen performing in the band’s early video – “Now We’re Getting Somewhere”.
Gill Civil left Australia in 1988 and settled in Vancouver, Canada. Here, she has continued to refine her skills as a dance accompanist and composer for a variety of creative projects. Over the last 15 years she has been commissioned to write for many mediums including dance, film and orchestra. Highlights include scoring a 1992 film entitled “Fine Amour” in a style that has been described as “mediaeval MTV”, and in 1995 composing “Procession” – a highly layered keyboard work for a New Zealand CD called “Shrew’d – A Compilation of New Zealand Women’s Music”. Her largest commissioned work to date is a half-hour long multi-media production called “Yondi“ which is inspired by an Australian Dreamtime legend. It was written for the “Victorian College of the Arts” and incorporates 50 dancers, a symphony orchestra and an amplified didgeridoo. A song version of “Yondi”, scored for piano and didgeridoo appears on a CD entitled “Australia” – a collection of children’s songs by “Mr. I”. And currently in production is a fully illustrated children’s book based on Gill’s lyrics for this song.
Gill Civil has played for the following Dance Schools and Companies:Limbs Dance Company The New Zealand Ballet Company Victorian College of the Arts National Theatre Ballet School The Australian Ballet Company The Sydney Dance Company The Australian Dance Theatre Ballet British Columbia Karen Jamieson Dance Company Judith Marcuses Dance Company Simon Fraser University Arts Umbrella The Shadbolt Centre