TDT: THE FIRST 25 YEARS
Since its earliest days, Toronto Dance Theatre has had a profound influence on dance in Canada. The company’s dances and dancers have been inspirational, while the founders’ legacy is a rich endowment of potent, original dance.
In 1968, Patricia Beatty joined forces with David Earle, another Torontonian who had pursued his love of modern dance in New York City, and Peter Randazzo, a dancer with Martha Graham’s company. Their company, Toronto Dance Theatre, gave its inaugural performances on three Monday evenings, December 2, 9 and 16, 1968, at Toronto Workshop Productions Theatre. On these programs were Beatty’s Momentum, an adaptation of the Macbeth story with music by Couperin, Rameau, and Toronto composer Ann Southam; David Earle’s Mirrors, with music by J.S. Bach; Earle’s Recitation, with music by Ann Southam, and his Angelic Visitation #1 and #2, with music by Frank Martin and Ned Rorem; Peter Randazzo’s Trapezoid, with music by Donald Himes and Ann Southam; and Grant Strate’s Primordial, with a score by Andre Prevost.
The founders established the company to expand their creative resources, and in essence, TDT was a model of how one company might simultaneously serve different artistic visions. Fundamental to the company was a sense of shared ideals. While modern dance was very young in Canada, Beatty, Earle and Randazzo advocated the idea of dance as a serious art form. They wanted to develop artists of scope and depth, as well as performers who could teach. The founders were devoted to the power of the training Martha Graham had evolved to form dancers who could express her mythic, poetic vision. Inside this framework of ideals, the three choreographers poured forth an astonishing reservoir of new dances. Their individual visions were characterized by creative collaborations with extraordinary Canadian composers and designers. The chiselled earnestness of Patricia Beatty’s dances, the provocations of Randazzo’s dramas and send-ups, and the lush impasto of David Earle’s epic choreography were distinctive from the company’s first performances.
TDT immediately became a magnet for talented dancers; the first company members were charismatic and stellar, their electrifying sensuality and drama a revelation to the company’s amazed audiences. Exceptional dancers have illuminated succeeding seasons, and exquisitely talented dancers have continued to fulfill the founders’ desire to nourish artists with heart and the power to move audiences. In 1981, the founders saw the potential in a young dancer by the name of Christopher House, giving him the position of resident choreographer with the company.
The Professional Training Program of The School of TDT was established by David Earle in 1979 as a separate entity from the company, with their shared core of language drawn from Graham technique. The School has served as the foundation and inspiration of generations of dancers.