Daniel Williams GrossmanDaniel Williams Grossman, dancer, choreographer (b at San Francisco, Calif 13 Sept 1942). The son of a Polish-Hungarian Jewish father and an Irish Catholic mother, Grossman grew up in a highly politicized household. He walked his first picket line when he was 10 and participated in student demonstrations at the University of California, Berkeley. Affected by his upbringing, Grossman's choreography deals with themes such as racism, sexuality, war and human conflict, poverty, respect for nature and personal spiritual growth. However, his work is not restricted to serious social commentary; his athletic choreography is frequently humorous and satirical.
Grossman began folk dancing in grade school and, by 1960, was studying and performing modern dance with Gloria Unti. In 1963, at a summer course at Connecticut College, he met Paul Taylor, who invited him to join his company in New York City. Grossman danced with Taylor (1963-73), touring throughout the world.
In 1973, Grossman was invited to work as a guest artist with the TORONTO DANCE THEATRE and has remained in Canada ever since. In 1974 he joined the faculty at York University while continuing to work with TDT. A single work, Higher, made at York University in 1975, led to the formation of the Danny Grossman Dance Company (DGDC) that same year. Higher is a work of playful sexual tension in which a man and a woman dance on and around 2 chairs and a ladder to the music of Ray Charles.
The mid-1970s were prolific years for Grossman, and many of his early works have been retained in the company repertoire. In 1976 he created 4 new pieces: Couples Suite, National Spirit, Fratelli and Triptych. National Spirit, about American patriotism, was his first political satire. In 1977 he produced 3 works: in Curious Schools of Theatrical Dancing, his first solo, a paranoiac is involved in a physically dangerous dance to the death; Ecce Homo is based on religious paintings and drawings of ecstasy and sin; and Bella, a collaboration with Judy JARVIS, was inspired by the music of Puccini and Chagall's paintings of lovers. Other notable pieces include the apocalyptic Endangered Species; the tongue-in-cheek Nobody's Business; the very dark Ces Plaisirs, after Collette's book The Pure and the Impure; and La Valse, a sarcastic look at poverty and wealth.
Concerned with preserving dancing as an artform, Grossman and his company have remounted works by Canadians Patricia BEATTY, Anna Blewchamp, Paula ROSS, Judy Jarvis and Peter RANDAZZO. Also concerned with educational outreach, the DGDT draws on the varied backgrounds of its dancers to offer workshops and lecture/demonstrations, working frequently with public schools and post-secondary dance programs. A cultural activist, Grossman serves on the Board of the Toronto Arts Council and participates in Toronto's Artsvote campaign to educate local voters and politicians about cultural issues. He is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Dance at York University.
Grossman has received the Jean A. Chalmers Award for Choreography (1978), a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Best New Choreography (1988), the William Kilbourn Lifetime Achievement Award from the Toronto Arts Awards (1998) and the Dance Ontario Award (1998).