Grossman, Danny

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Grossman, Danny

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  • Grossman, Daniel
  • Grossman, Daniel Williams

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Daniel (Williams) Grossman was 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. Danny Grossman died on 29 July 2023.

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.


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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

2017/03/09 KCP. Updated biography and sources.
2018/02/02 KCP. Added wikidata.
2019/01/02 KCP. Replaced wikidata with VIAF.
2023/07/31 MM. Updated biography.


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