David Earle

In 1968 he returned to Toronto and joined Peter RANDAZZO, formerly of the Martha Graham Dance Company, and fellow Torontonian, Patricia BEATTY, in co-founding the TORONTO DANCE THEATRE (TDT).

Earle, David
Cofounder of Toronto Dance Theatre (photo by Cylla von Tiedemann/courtesy Toronto Dance Theatre).

David Earle

 David Earle, dancer, choreographer (born at Toronto 17 Sept 1939). David Earle has been an inspirational figure in Canadian MODERN DANCE, not only through his choreography and teaching but as a mentor to successive generations of young dance-artists. He trained in Toronto at the NATIONAL BALLET SCHOOL and studied in New York with Martha Graham. After a season in the José Limon Dance Company, he assisted in setting up the London Contemporary Dance Theatre in England.

In 1968 he returned to Toronto and joined Peter RANDAZZO, formerly of the Martha Graham Dance Company, and fellow Torontonian, Patricia BEATTY, in co-founding the TORONTO DANCE THEATRE (TDT). Although the three functioned as co-artistic directors and resident choreographers, David Earle is widely acknowledged as the most influential figure in the company's development. In 1979 he originated a professional training program at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre. He was the company's sole artistic director from 1987 to 1994 and artist-in-residence from 1994 to 1996, when he finally relinquished all formal connections with TDT. Earle has continued to teach and stage performances of his work.

David Earle has created more than 100 works, most of them for TDT, notably Baroque Suite, Atlantis, Boat River Moon and Dreamsend. He has also choreographed for opera and film and such other dance troupes as the NATIONAL BALLET OF CANADA, BALLET BRITISH COLUMBIA, LES GRANDS BALLETS CANADIENS DE MONTRÉAL, CANADIAN CHILDREN'S DANCE THEATRE and the Polish Dance Theatre in Warsaw.

Earle's style is markedly theatrical, lyrical and often overtly sensuous. He has a strong sense of formal composition and an interest in the human form as an object of wonder and beauty, in part influenced by his study of Renaissance and Baroque art. A recurrent theme in Earle's choreography is the meeting place of spirituality and carnal desire, the sacred and the profane. He has also shown an interest in the rituals of ancient cultures and has choreographed a number of works of a strongly liturgical or religious nature such as his enduringly popular Sacra Conversazione, set to the Mozart Requiem, and Miserere, originally part of Exit, Nightfall. One of his earliest works, Baroque Suite, a tribute to his mentor, Limon, remains a Canadian modern dance classic.

Soon after leaving TDT, Earle relocated to Elora, Ont, and founded a new company, Dance Theatre David Earle, in Guelph. He has a core of dancers with whom he regularly collaborates including D.A. Hoskins, Michael English and Danielle Baskerville, as well as Suzette Sherman, with whom he has worked for more than 30 years. He continues to choreograph and has added more than 40 new works to his repertoire. Recent works often feature performances with choirs, orchestras or chamber ensembles, notably the Penderecki String Quartet. His ongoing interest in the preservation of dance has led him to participate in the Toronto Heritage Dance initiative.

Among his many awards are the Clifford E. Lee Award for Choreography (1987) and the Jean A. Chalmers Award for Distinction in Choreography (1994). Earle was appointed a member of the ORDER OF CANADA in 1996. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws from Queen's University in Kingston, Ont, in 2005, and received the Walter Carsen Prize for career achievement in the performing arts in 2006.


Further Reading

  • Michel Green, David Earle: A Choreographic Biography (2006).