Lawrence and Miriam Adams | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Lawrence and Miriam Adams

The marriage of Lawrence Adams and Miriam Weinstein in 1967 launched one of the longest and extraordinarily multi-dimensional partnerships in Canadian dance history.

Lawrence and Miriam Adams

  Lawrence Vaughn (born at St Boniface, Man 2 Nov 1936; died at Toronto 26 Feb 2003) and Miriam Elaine Adams, née Weinstein (born at Toronto 29 Jan 1944), dancers, impresarios, administrators, publishers and archivists.

The marriage of Lawrence Adams and Miriam Weinstein in 1967 launched one of the longest and extraordinarily multi-dimensional partnerships in Canadian dance history. Rarely paired together as performers in their ballet careers, they progressed from the stage as a team to become, in succession, the founders of a short-lived experimental dance troupe, the managers of Canada's first performance space for "independent dance artists" (now a widely used term they are credited with coining), and the instigators and directors of a succession of projects largely focused on the preservation of Canada's dance heritage.

Lawrence Adams studied ballet with noted Vancouver teacher Mara McBirney and in Toronto attended summer schools of the NATIONAL BALLET OF CANADA (NBC) where his older brother, David ADAMS, was a founding company member and leading dancer. Lawrence Adams joined the NBC in 1955 and soon became noted as an exuberant, virile and athletic dancer. Always a restless character in search of fresh stimulus, he left in 1960 and performed in the musical Brigadoon. He returned to dance with LES GRANDS BALLETS CANADIENS in 1961-62 and with New York's Joffrey Ballet in 1962-63, then rejoined the NBC as a soloist and later as principal dancer, performing a wide range of roles.

Miriam Adams studied privately with Betty OLIPHANT and later at the NATIONAL BALLET SCHOOL from 1960 to 1963, before joining the NBC. In 1969 Lawrence and Miriam Adams, both frustrated with classical ballet, quit. They began teaching at the Lois SMITH School of Dance in Toronto. In 1972 they toured their own choreography with a group of advanced students under the name 15 Dancers and opened 15 Dance Lab, a small studio space in Toronto.

Abandoning their own troupe, from 1974 to 1980 they presented independent dance artists from across Canada. Visiting artists were given support in such areas as publicity, lighting and sound.

They published the dance journal Spill from 1976 to 1978, and then the monthly Canadian Dance News from 1980 to 1983. Unable to sustain these projects financially, Miriam Adams worked for the Dance in Canada Association as a conference and special projects co-ordinator while from 1984 to 1990 the enterprising Lawrence operated a film and video facility, The Arts TV Centre.

The couple developed a passionate interest in Canada's dance heritage and determined to retrieve and conserve it. With support from the Laidlaw Foundation and other funding agencies, they began research into Canadian dance history. In 1983 they launched Encore! Encore!, a dance reconstruction project involving former dancers and choreographers in the reconstruction of 6 "lost" works from the 1940s and 1950s. Although the main thrust of Encore! Encore! was to preserve the reclaimed works on video and in notated form, excerpts were successfully presented at EXPO 86 in Vancouver.

They then founded a not-for-profit publishing company, DANCE COLLECTION DANSE, to further their goal of preserving, celebrating and increasing public awareness of Canada's dance heritage. DCD has accumulated a major archive of Canadian materials and in September 1996 began publishing The Dance News, a journal aimed at the dance profession. DCD has also published a wide variety of historical monographs, reference works, biographies, memoirs and collections of critical writings, including the ambitious bilingual Encyclopedia of Theatre Dance in Canada in 2000. DCD continues its important work under the direction of Miriam Adams.

Miriam Adams was named a member of the ORDER OF CANADA in 2011, "for her contributions to preserving and popularizing Canadian dance history."