Remembering Maggi Phillips

In This Article

Dr Maggi Phillips was an extraordinary contributor to dance in Australia, as a teacher, researcher and dance scholar. She passed away in Perth on the evening of 31 March, surrounded by family and friends.

She was also a great contributor to the World Dance Alliance, presenting at many forums and serving on review and editorial committees. Here Maggi's World Dance Alliance—Asia Pacific friends share their tributes.

Maggi Phillips—teacher, researcher and dance scholar. Photos: Min Zhu

Tributes from:

Tom Brown, Emeritus Chair of Hong Kong Dance Alliance

Maggi Phillips was one of the brightest, most knowledgeable, and wittiest people I’ve ever met. Talking with her could’ve been like being in a meteor storm of ideas—should’ve been overwhelming!  But not with Maggi; she was also one of the most down-to-earth, unassuming, open people I’ve ever known.  She reached out to you with her ideas, just like she did with her friendship.  She had zero pretence. And was 100% generous. And could be so funny. Once on a tea break during a conference in Germany (Dusseldorf? Essen?) she’d made a joke about a particularly obtuse jargon-laden (and leaden) presentation that was so laugh-out-loud funny, neither of us could stop tittering throughout the rest of the afternoon. And dared not look at each other else we’d burst out laughing again. And only Maggi had the chops to skewer those things we all wish we could. I wish we had more time with Maggi, I wish I had more time with her.

Stephanie Burridge, Co-Chair, Research & Documentation Network, World Dance Alliance Asia-Pacific

Maggie was a dear friend over so many years—from the early days when we both had fledgling community-based dance companies (Brown’s Mart and Canberra Dance Theatre) and shared choreographers.  We were among the pioneers of dance people with PhDs in Australia and went on to work on many projects through the World Dance Alliance. We forged a strong bond with our various health issues (me with MS) and contemplated many flights of stairs together and other obstacles to surmount—I loved her sense of humour, intelligence, companionship. I will miss a drink and a laugh with her at the end of a hard day. Her spirit and inspiration will always remain with me and her passion and commitment to dance education is a legacy we will continue in her loving memory...   

Ralph Buck, Co-Chair, Education & Training Network, World Dance Alliance

    Maggi for me was fun, frail and full of mischief.
    I appreciated her candid outlook and sharp mind.
    Maggi helped make our dance community.

Clockwise: With Cheryl Stock and Stephanie Burridge; with friends in Delhi, 2009; with Cheryl Stock and Kim Vincs, Delhi 2009; with Min Zhu.

Professor Shirley McKechnie

Maggi’s passing is a loss to us all as well as the wider dance community—in this case a world wide community. I first met Maggi some time in the late seventies. She spent a week at Rusden because she was so interested in the new dance degree and wanted to learn about it. At that time she was directing the company in Darwin that prepared so many talented people for wider contributions to the dance profession.

Ya-Ping Chen, Taipei National University of the Arts

I'm shocked to hear about this sad news. I was on the same panel with Maggi last July at the Angers World Dance Alliance Global Summit. She was as warm and supportive as ever to all her fellow presenters. I will always remember her as a thoughtful friend and inspiring colleague in dance. May she rest in peace.

Anna Chan, World Dance Alliance, Hong Kong

What sad news! Maggi will be missed by all of us, her students, colleagues and international friends. She is a role model for all of us and I remembered our last conversation at Angers; she told me about some of her plans despite her falling apart body...And she laughed as we could all imagine. What a quiet fighter!

Alexandra Kolb

We will always cherish her memory.

Janet Karin, Australian Ballet School, President International Association for Dance Medicine & Science

    Maggi was such a live-wire and such good value. Seventy is far too early for our great thinkers to go. With warmest wishes.

Clockwise: With Mark Gordon and Julie Dyson at the Dance Rebooted conference, Melbourne 2004. With Carl Wolz, Miki Wakamatsu and Urmimala Sarkar Munsi, Singapore 2001. With Stephanie Burridge, Taiwan 2004. With Nanette Hassall and Teresa Pee in Kuala Lumpur, 2004.

Vanessa Mirza

I am so sad to hear the news, but will fondly remember times with Maggi at various WDA events, especially in Taipei and Angers. Thank you (Cheryl) for sharing the beautiful tribute to her. She has truly been such a backbone of dance advocacy and an inspiration to so many. She will be deeply missed!

Michael Briand

I met Maggi Phillips for the only time in Angers, and I was deeply impressed by her presentation (both philosophical and sensitive), the discussion we had after mine, and different talkings during the few days of this meeting. An elegant, smiling and profound person!

Jeff Meiners, Co-Chair, Education & Training Network, World Dance Alliance

This is very sad news. Maggi was always easy and a delight to be around, understanding and insightful. She will be much missed.

Alan Brissenden, dance critic and writer

What a great contribution she made, so unassumingly, to dance in this country!

Jin-Wen, World Dance Alliance Americas

Though I do not know her well, I am always pleased to see her in all WDA events in the last two decades. Indeed, a loss for World Dance Alliance!

L–R: with World Dance Alliance friends in Singapore, 2007.

Professor Mohd Anis Md Nor, Malaysia

I am sorry to hear this sad news. I offer my condolences to her bereaved family members and friends. Maggi is a special person in World Dance Alliance—Asia Pacific. To those who knew her, this is an understatement. To those who have not known her, she is what World Dance Alliance aspires, "do not ask what WDA can do for you, ask what you can do for WDA". She did everything she could for her love of dance and for this organisation. She inspired many young scholars and dance makers, and she continued to give her best in spite of the 'obstacles' and 'challenges' she would often face. I will remember her as a mentor, colleague, and an inspiring individual, humble and just. Maggi Phillips, may you rest in peace.

Urmimala Sarkar, Vice-President, World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific

I am extremely sad hearing this news. There are some people you take for granted. I realise that I have always thought of Maggi as someone always there for an email  consultation. Over the years in WDA AP since 1997 Hong Kong event, when I met her and spent quite some time talking, Maggi and I have kept in touch in many ways, not only in WDA events but also in IFTR,  where her contribution in the Choreography and Corporeality Research group was greatly appreciated. Maggi's Scholarship was extremely  interesting with deeply critical and analytical engagement. May you rest in peace Maggi, you will be missed.

Teresa Pee (Singapore)

At the WDA conference in Hong Kong one year, we had to walk and cross long overhead bridges to reach HKAPA, the conference site. Some would complain, but Maggie in her cheerful manner didn’t think much of it at all. She always wore a smile on her face. Nothing was too difficult or inconvenient for her. I remember her as someone who was ever so positive and generous & kind.

Julie Dyson, Secretary, World Dance Alliance

Maggi was such an integral part of the WAAPA leadership team, with her humour, scholarly approach and wonderful support for each and every student. Such a loss!

Joseph Gonzales (Malaysia)

Oh my goodness…I am so saddened by this news. My dear dear dear Maggi Phillips…words cannot express the depth of my respect and love for you… I looked forward to every visit, and every conference that I knew might be at, took every opportunity to sit with you and have a good chat. You taught me so much…You were so kind to all my students who adored you too… “Miss Maggi” they would say. You never let any of your physical problems hinder you, and never did you burden anyone with your stories of your struggles with the surgeries etc. Instead you always shared love, laughter, stories of your daughter and her acting, your love for elephants, and the list goes on… I cannot imagine not meeting you in person again. God bless you and rest your soul…your body freed from all pain once and for all.