Special Guest Speakers

LEAP is thrilled to announce that celebrated dance artist Peggy Baker and Olympic champion Mark Tewksbury, will be guest speakers at LEAP Together: Career and Life Transitions in Dance and Sport.



Peggy Baker (C.M. LL.D., D.Litt, O.Ont) has been a vivid presence in contemporary dance for more than four decades, performing internationally in the work of Lar Lubovitch, Mark Morris (with Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project), Doug Varone, Tere O’Connor, Molissa Fenley, and Charles Moulton (New York City); and with Fortier Danse-Creation (Montreal); Dancemakers and Toronto Dance Theatre. She established Peggy Baker Dance Projects in Toronto in 1990, and for the first 20 years she dedicated herself to solo performance, winning rapturous praise for the eloquence and depth of her dancing, and accolades for her collaborative partnerships with extraordinary choreographers, directors, musicians, and designers.

Since 2010 her choreography has focused on works for small ensemble. Over its 26-year history Peggy Baker Dance Projects has been presented at major festivals and dance centres in North America, Asia and Europe. Beyond the concert stage Ms. Baker has premiered six installation works with presentations for Nuit Blanche, by the Art Gallery Ontario, and in public spaces in Kingston, St. Catharines and Fredericton. Under the banner The Choreographer’s Trust she has published a series of booklet/DVD sets that document six of her landmark solos, and she is the subject of a book by Carol Anderson, Unfold – a Portrait of Peggy Baker, published by Dance Collection Danse.

Among her many honours are the Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, The Governor General’s Award, the Walter Carsen Prize, the George Luscombe Award for Mentorship, and five Doras. Ms. Baker is Artist-in-Residence at Canada’s National Ballet School.



Mark Tewksbury first came to prominence as the star athlete who burst out of the water at the Barcelona Olympics; an Olympic Champion with gold, silver and bronze medals from two Olympic appearances.   Mark’s athletic career highlights include 21 national titles, seven world records, and a cover appearance on TIME Magazine. For his outstanding achievements Mark was named the Canadian Athlete of the Year in 1992, was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1995, and in 2000, Mark was inducted into the prestigious International Swimming Hall of Fame.

While athletic achievements contributed to his early success, Mark’s remarkable life post-Olympics have truly defined him. In 1998, Tewksbury was the first sport hero in Canada to publicly declare his homosexuality. Today, Tewksbury is seen as a global leader on LGBT sport issues. In 2008, Mark was invited by the Government of France to be part of their delegation addressing human rights at the United Nations in New York City. Most recently, Tewksbury was featured as one of three pioneers in human rights in sport in the ‘2015: Year of Sport’ exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.

For his contributions to the advancement and education of human rights issues surrounding sexual education, Mark has received awards and honorary degrees from the Bonham Centre, the University of Calgary, and the University of Western Ontario.

Professionally, Tewksbury is a celebrated public speaker known for his ability to lead and inspire. What began as story-telling to school kids 27 years ago became an international career that saw Mark speak to millions of people around the world. Highlights of that career include being the master of ceremonies for the Dalai Lama, being Chef de mission for the 2012 Canadian Olympic Team, and leading the Canadian delegation into the 2015 Special Olympics World Games.

Over the years, Mark has championed a number of important causes. He currently is serving his seventh year on the Board of Directors for Special Olympics Canada and is a National Ambassador for The Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research, a position he has held for four years.