TOES FOR DANCE began as a general partnership between Founding Directors David Norsworthy and Kristen Carcone. In October 2012, TOES FOR DANCE produced our first mixed program with the support of Dancemakers and the Centre for Creation. Two sold-out shows brought dance to two hundred audience members. This first iteration was a sixty minute performance that showcased eight Toronto-based dancers and eight New York-based dancers. The all-male dance company MADBOOTS DANCE, was introduced to Toronto as our first featured company.
The following year we garnered support through a successful crowdfunding campaign, the Jonathan Madrigano Entrepreneurship Award from The Juilliard School, and partnerships with the Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre and New York’s Inception to Exhibition. We also established Ignite (a choreographic residency and summer dance program about creative process) and taught thirty-five outreach workshops across Ontario. In this same year, TFD performed our first touring production, an all new mixed program of contemporary dance featuring ten Toronto-based artists and ten New York-based artists performing the work of choreographers from across the globe (including Canadian dance legend David Earle). Our 2013 tour involved a sixty minute student matinee and a ninety minute public evening show presented at ten venues. A total of one thousand seven hundred audience members were in attendance. In the same year, we launched our Improvisation Jam series; evenings of collaborative exploration and play designed to foster cross-disciplinary exchange.
In October 2014, TOES FOR DANCE produced its third edition of the mixed program production, this time involving twenty five collaborating artists from around the world. Repertoire included the work of Bessie Award winner Camille A. Brown and modern dance pioneer José Limón. Ten performances across Ontario including student matinees and public evening shows attracted two thousand three hundred audience members and media attention from Rogers TV, The Dance Current, The Mississauga News and EviDance Radio. The tour concluded with two sold-out shows at the Betty Oliphant Theatre.
In 2015, TOES FOR DANCE adopted a workshop series, FRESH Dance Intensive, as a project under its newly incorporated non-profit umbrella. FRESH Dance Intensive, founded in 2007 by David Norsworthy, with the support of TOES FOR DANCE, conducted a national workshop tour engaging more than forty five instructors and volunteers through twenty one events in the summer and fall. These workshops inspired more than one thousand seven hundred young people through dance and allowed TOES FOR DANCE to expand our reach across the country with workshops in Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. In October 2015, a fourth iteration of the mixed program is produced, again involving an international cast and a globally recognized roster of choreographers (including Canada’s Peggy Baker and Sweden’s Fernando Melo). The production receives praise from the Dance Current’s Sarah Lochhead: “I forgot I was watching dance and instead was afforded the space and permission to revel in the joy of witnessing art unfold on stage.” Finally, in December 2015, TOES FOR DANCE established its inaugural Festival; presenting two evening-length productions by solo performance artists, for a total of six shows at the Aki Studio Theatre. Our festival was named one of the top five dance events of 2015 in the Globe and Mail.
In 2016, TOES FOR DANCE launched a yearlong research project called Designing for Dance in collaboration with DanceWorks and funded by The Metcalf Foundation. The project explored how Design Thinking approaches can activate new possibilities for public engagement with Toronto’s professional dance community. The aim was to foster social relevance through sparking a culture of learning and exchange.