David Earle: A force in the Past, Present and Future of Modern Dance in Canada

Toronto Heritage Dance: An Evening of Chamber Dance

DanceWorks CoWorks Series Event

Winchester Street Theatre

Sept. 15 – 17, 2011 @ 8pm, Sept. 18 @ 2pm

To Reserve Tickets Call: 416-204-1082

Cash at the Door

Interview with Lucy Rupert

Lucy Rupert: How did you come to be involved in Toronto Heritage Dance?

David Earle: Nenagh Leigh (Co-founder and Founding  Director of Toronto Heritage Dance) has always encouraged me to create and has expressed an appreciation of my work.  The late Donald Himes (board member of Toronto Heritage Dance) played an important role in establishing a concern for the preservation of repertoire.  Trish [Beatty] and I both learned this art form from the example of the masterpieces of American Modern Dance. We are proud and grateful to recognize the value of what preceded us.

LR: Your work in the Toronto Heritage Dance production is Miserere.  What is the piece all about?

DE: The Miserere was originally part of a longer work for TDT in 1980 – Exit, Nightfall, five dreams after death.  It was the 4th dream and was performed by 15 dancers in 3 groups of 5.  Since the inception of DtDE [Dance Theatre David Earle] in 1997, when we performed it with a choir in the Elora Festival, Miserere has been our signature piece, closing most programs sometimes with 5, sometimes 10 and, when possible, with 15 dancers.

I think its positive effect on audiences comes from the illustration of trust and constant support – the ideal of community we could experience.

LR: What do you hope audiences will get from seeing the Toronto Dance Heritage production?

DE: The Toronto Heritage Dance program is attempting to correct a failure in ‘the system’ by assuring that each generation has the example of those preceding it. No other art form in Canada is expected to grow with no knowledge or experience of its past.

To know what is new, you have to know what has been.

LR: What keeps you inspired to make and re-stage your works?

DE: Firstly, I am always seeking some form of expression, and work constantly at discovering and reinforcing my uniqueness.  Dancers suggest dances to me. In dance, it is the people around me that make me want to create – I offer the dancers a context in which they can experience that same quest.  My past works are my second concern, and sometimes I learn from them.  I enjoy seeing my past works altered and illuminated by new individuals preparing and performing them.

LR: What do you see as the major changes in modern dance over the years you have been working?

DE: The contemporary arts have largely lost their audience, becoming dialogues within each art form.  The insistence on novelty is a dead end.

I have the impression that, in Toronto, dancers create instruments, beautiful instruments – and then rarely have the opportunity to perform dance in its fullest expression for audiences that have an appetite for that.

I think that the post-contemporary arts will return to the elements that have constituted the arts for many centuries; form, content, and a concern with communication.

This interview has been edited for content and length.

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