Founded in 1975 by Danny Grossman, the Danny Grossman Dance Company (DGDC) is a modern dance company that was legally incorporated as the Danny Williams Grossman Dance Company in 1977. Considered as one of Canada’s most popular modern-dance troupes, the company toured extensively in Canada and performed globally across Europe, Israel, South America, and the United States. It toured in more than seventeen countries and has appeared at major dance festivals including Jacob’s Pillow. Its mission is to provide the environment, opportunity and support for the creation, performance and preservation of works by Danny Grossman. The company’s artistic statement is to present dance that is about humanity: clear, concise, daring, and universal – not afraid of subject matter. The company’s repertoire of 30 original works reflects Danny Grossman’s personal values of equality, pacificism, honesty courage, social responsibility, sympathy for the underdog and a willingness to reveal demons.
During the first two years, four company dancers (Danny Grossman, Judy Hendon, Erik Bobrow, Greg Parks,) were also members of the Toronto Dance Theatre as dancers, apprentices, and students. Working under the umbrella of TDT, DGDC practised after hours and undertook extended residencies and performances at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. Follow the success of Higher on tour to Miami and New York in 1976, the company was invited to perform at the New York Dance Festival, the Dance in Canada Conference in Halifax, and in the cultural festivities of the 21st Olympiad in Montreal in 1976.
By 1978 the company was established on a fulltime basis and would rehearse in the evenings at the National Ballet School studios. The six members DGDC (with Randy Glynn and Judith Miller joining the founding dancers) embarked on its first tour of Western Canada with Peter Sever as manager and Germain Pierce as wardrobe supervisor. Afterwards, the company moved to its own studio space on King Street, Hendon left and Pamela Grundy (who would later become Co-Artistic Director) and Trish Armstrong joined by audition.
In the 1980s, the company entered into an extended period of creative work to build a new repertoire in preparation for upcoming tours in North America and Europe. In 1988, the company expanded its repertoire to remount 15 revivals from Canadian artists (Patricia Beatty, Paula Ross, Lawrence Gradus, Judy Jarvis, Anna Blewchamp) and some American choreographers (Charles Weidman and Paul Taylor). Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, the company would performance and tour primarily in Canada.
The company has also collaborated and co-produced with artists of different techniques, cultures, and disciplines including Judy Jarvis, Lawrence Gradus, Rina Singha, and Brainerd Blyden-Taylor. Collaborations also assisted the company to maximise resources through initiatives such as For Dance and Opera (a joint booking project to meet tour management needs) and 509 Parliament St (joint studio space for Canadian Children’s Dance Theatre and independent artists). The company also belonged to Dance 2020 (workgroup of members of Toronto dance community to set priorities and visions for the future), Arts 4 Change (a program designed to create positive change for and by arts professionals in Toronto), and Artsvote (a campaign to educate local voters and politicians about issues in the cultural sector). The company also engaged in educational initiatives with local school groups, community groups, and undertook residency programs on tour.
With shrinking grants to fund operations, the company stopped performing in 2008 and shifted its focus on teaching and preserving Grossman’s choreography. The company travels to schools and teaches works to students at institutions such as Adelphi University.