In 1977, a collective of young dance and performance artists including Johanna Householder, Martha Lovell, Irene Grainger, Janice Hladki and Joan Phillips, organized a performance on March 27 at the Music Gallery in Toronto. The performance was called Dance Improvization I and included primarily solos and duets. This collective evolved to become DanceWorks.
In the beginning, DanceWorks did not have a curator and offered artists interested in the body the opportunity to perform on a regular basis. Artists Irene Grainger and Kyra Lober administered the first seasons. Co-founder Johanna Householder, (together with Garfield and Hladki) formed the performance art group The Clichettes in 1978 and subsequently left DanceWorks, but not before introducing Mimi Beck to the collective. Beck has been the dance curator since the early 1980s.
As a curator, Beck has nurtured relationships with choreographers of diverse backgrounds and styles. In addition to contemporary dance, DanceWorks has encouraged interdisciplinary collaboration and presented performance art and film works. Specifically, DanceWorks has presented established Canadian choreographers' work including that of Margaret Dragu, Rachel Browne, Paul-André Fortier, Tedd Robinson, Lola MacLaughlin, Denise Fujiwara, Peter Chin, José Navas and Peggy Baker.