In the 1930s, dance had become a major attraction at McGill, and its annual recitals were covered by Montreal’s English dailies. The Department of Physical Education was instrumental in the early development of modern dance in Montreal (itself a very dance-friendly city in those days), bringing a new approach to the fundamentals of American modern dance. With the arrival of dance teacher Thelma Wagner in 1938, McGill’s dance community further intensified its focus upon contemporary and experimental aspects. Wagner also founded the Dance Club, which continues the tradition of yearly performances today. Under her direction, the Department of Physical Education’s dance elements continued to thrive for several decades.
When movement classes became part of the Faculty of Education, starting in 1967, dance began to lose its visibility at McGill. Finally, the dance Diploma program shut down in 1990. However, dance continues to be an integral part of the arts at McGill, as the members of the Dance Workshop still perform to sell-out crowds every year.