Artistic Director Patrick Parson reflects on the past twenty years...
Black Dance in Canada is here to stay. More particularly, it holds a place on Toronto stages. It is very rewarding to know that Ballet Creole has helped to raise audience awareness of the artful expression possible in dance when Western tradition meets the multicultural vibrancy of the Caribbean.
When I first started Ballet Creole my desire was to create a professional company comparable to the internationally-renowned Astor Johnson Company that I had left behind in my native Trinidad. This is the kind of dance that I grew up with and sought to continue doing here in Canada. However, in 1990, in a city as multicultural as Toronto, such a company did not exist. This void was my impetus to create a company that brought that particular aesthetic to mainstream professional stages. At that time in the early 1990s Toronto was very receptive to this "new" artistic expression and thus the company began.
Additionally, this type of dance found an appeal with new dancers, unreleased artists who didn't feel compelled to dance ballet in the traditional sense, but who found personal artistic expression in the drumming and rhythm of the islands. These are the dancers who have trained in the professional training program, performed in the yearly Company dance presentations at Harbourfront and moved on, many continuing to promote this creative dance blend. The classes offered by Ballet Creole have made cultural dance accessible on a community level as well as on a professional level to all those who wish to participate. It has been very rewarding to have my own children catch my vision and help to advance what has become fundamental to Ballet Creole's philosophy.
Looking ahead to the next twenty years I anticipate Ballet Creole settling in to its place in the Canadian tapestry as a national institution, recognized by all Canadians for its role in promoting rich cultural artistic expression. My heartfelt gratitude goes out to those who have supported and continue to support this vision.
For Patrick Parson's bio click here