Title and statement of responsibility area
Danny Grossman fonds
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- Textual record
- Graphic material
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Edition statement of responsibility
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Dates of creation area
1942-2002, 1963-2002 predominant (Creation)
- Grossman, Danny
Physical description area
0.84 m of textual material
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Archival description area
Name of creator
Daniel (Williams) Grossman is an American dancer, choreographer and instructor. His company, the Danny Grossman Dance Company performed the majority of his choreography. His works are also included companies such as the National Ballet of Canada, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, and the Paris Opera Ballet. His choreography set to a variety of music, with a preference for jazz, appealed to a broad audience through a distinctive movement idiom, directness of purpose, theatricality and a humanistic viewpoint. His social activist upbringing in San Francisco acted as the inspiration for the majority of his works.
Born on September 13, 1942, in San Francisco, his parents influenced his participation in social activism. At ten years of age, he walked his first picket line. As a student, he took part in the Berkley student demonstrations of the 1960s.
Grossman was first introduced to dance in grade school through folk dancing. In high school, he was a dancing cheerleader with friend Margaret Jenkin. He also studied dance with her under Welland Lathrop.
While attending the San Francisco Community College in 1960, he was mentored by Gloria Unti. During this time, he was also a dancer for Unti and Lathrop’s companies. By 1962, Grossman decided to leave college, move to New York City, and train with Gertrude Shurr and May O’Donnell. A summer session at Connecticut College, the home of the American Dance Festival, he met David Earle, the future founder of the Toronto Dance Theatre (TDT), and Paul Taylor at There, Taylor invited Grossman to join his company.
From 1963 to 1973, Grossman toured with the Paul Taylor Dance Company (PTDC). Grossman used the stage name Daniel Williams as Taylor wanted a more American-Ohio, middle-class sounding name on his roster of performers. During this time, Grossman was also known as Dynamo Danny, a nickname started by Taylor.
In 1973, invited to teach summer school at TDT and then offered a contract as a dancer for a year, Grossman moved to Canada. He then joined the York University Faculty of Dance as an Adjunct Professor. As a part-time professor, Grossman also worked at the TDT as a guest artist and choreographer. In 1975, Grossman met Judy Henton and choreographed Higher, a duet for the two of them. It's successful premier at the Burton Auditorium influenced Grossman’s decision to form his own company.
While getting DGDC off the ground, Grossman and his dancers were employed by the TDT. During the off-hours, Grossman worked on, choreographed for, and practised with his company. In 1976, Grossman choreographed three works: National Spirit, his first anti-establishment political statement about patriotism; the Couples Suite; and Triptych, a trio about abuse which projected hopelessness and despair. The first two were brought into the TDT’s repertoire. The same year, Grossman undertook a residency at the Performing Arts Workshop with Gloria Unti and taught a residency at Simon Fraser where her met Judy Jarvis with whom he would later choreograph Bella. He completed his first solo in 1977: the Curious School of Theatrical Dance, a paranoiac dance to death and redemption for a crippled harlequin set to music by Francois Couperin.
In 1978, when Grossman left TDT to work on his company full-time, he also received the Jean A. Calmers Award. He explored issues of homosexuality on stage with Nobody’s Business (1981) and again with Passion Symphony (1998), a pro-gay marriage piece. In 1982, Grossman choreographed Endangered Species which portrayed a post-apocalyptic world where the dancers fought against military oppression. In 1986, Grossman choreographed Hot House: Thriving on a Riff for the National Ballet of Canada.
Funding to develop new works and pay for company operations started to decline in the 1990s. By 2008, Grossman stopped creating works for his company and would shift its focus from performance to teaching.
Involved in community governance, Grossman participating in activities such as the 1994 Dance/USA National Task Force on Dance Education, the Board of Toronto arts Council as Co-Chair of the dance committee, the Artsvote campaign to education votes and politicians about issues in the cultural sector, and the Dance 2020 workgroup to set priorities and visions for the future of the Toronto dance community.
Name of creator
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.
The records in accession 2003-019 were in the custody of the Danny Grossman Dance Company before they were transferred to York University Archives & Special Collections.
Scope and content
Fonds consists of personal and professional correspondence, clippings, programmes and related material that document Grossman's career as a dancer with the Paul Taylor Dance Company as well as the founding of the Danny Grossman Dance Company. It also includes contracts, grant applications and other financial records, citizenship papers, passports and other collected ephemera.
Immediate source of acquisition
Donated by Danny Grossman and received from the Danny Grossman Dance Company in 2003.
Language of material
Script of material
Location of originals
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Restrictions on access
To be determined.
Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication
The fonds comprises the following accession: 2003-019. Further accruals may be expected.
Standard number area
Subject access points
Place access points
Name access points
- Toronto Dance Theatre (Subject)
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Dates of creation, revision and deletion
2003/06/10 Sean Smith:. EAD v. 1.0. (Creation)
2014/07/22 Migrated to AtoM.
2020/06/15 KCP. Post-migration metadata clean-up. Published description and generated finding aid.