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Patricia Beatty (1936-2020)

November 20, 2021

It is with deep sadness that Toronto Dance Theatre announces the passing of Patricia Beatty, one of the founders of both the company and The School of Toronto Dance Theatre. The impact she made in the studio, on the stage, and in the dance community at large will be treasured, and her legacy will continue to reverberate throughout the work Toronto Dance Theatre does moving forward.

Trish, as she liked to be called, was one of Canada’s most esteemed dance artists. After graduating from Bennington College in 1959 she began more intensive study with Martha Graham and José Limón in New York City. Her most significant work was when she returned to Canada, founding the New Dance Group of Canada in 1966, one of the first modern dance companies in the Toronto area. This became the foundation for Toronto Dance Theatre when she joined forces with David Earle and Peter Randazzo in 1968. During her 25 years as co-director and resident choreographer, she created 24 original works for the company, including First Music (1969) and Seastill (1979). Her presence on stage and her dances themselves were always highly regarded when the company toured both internationally and across Canada.

In reviewing Trish’s last work for Toronto Dance Theatre, Mandala, William Littler wrote:

“Beatty being Beatty, it said more than it initially appeared to say, resonating from a centre of simple Grahamesque movement full of unison, stretched limbs, and geometric patterning to speak of things deeply felt … the dancers do not move as if kinetic activity were the purpose for this exercise… For Beatty, as for Graham, movement isn’t an end itself; it is a way of visualizing our interior landscape.” (“Beatty’s Last New Piece Speaks of Deep Feelings,” Toronto Star, 26 February 1992)

She was the recipient of many awards over the years, including the Victor Martyn-Lynch Staunton Award, The Toronto Arts Award, and The Dance Ontario Award, the last two of which she shared with David Earle and Peter Randazzo. In 2004, she was awarded the Order of Canada for her lifetime contribution to modern dance. In March 2019, Beatty, Earle, and Randazzo were inducted into Dance Collection Danse’s Encore! Dance Hall of Fame.

A pioneer in the development of modern dance in Canada, Trish was an incomparable dancer, choreographer and teacher, greatly influencing generations of dance artists through her craft and mentorship. As noted at the Dance Collection Danse induction ceremony into the Dance Hall of Fame: “The work that David, Peter, and Trish began when they founded the company and School has nurtured and inspired hundreds – probably thousands – of artists, many of whom they have not even met…. Their work has left and is still leaving a magnificent legacy in the world of dance.” Our thoughts are with her loved ones and all of the dance community. Thank you for everything, Trish.

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