Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann

PATRICIA BEATTY (1936-2020)

Staff and faculty of The School of Toronto Dance Theatre are sad to announce the passing on November 20, 2020 of Patricia Beatty, one of the founders of the School and company. Trish, as she liked to be called, was one of Canada’s most esteemed dance artists. She taught and inspired generations of dancers and young choreographers throughout her 40 year career. After graduating from Bennington College in 1959 she began more intensive study with Martha Graham and José Limón in New York City. During her six years in New York she performed extensively with Pearl Lang as well as Sophie Maslow, Mary Anthony, and Donald McKayle. Her most significant work was as a pioneer, founding the New Dance Group of Canada in 1966, one of the first modern dance companies in the Toronto area. In 1968 she joined forces with David Earle and Peter Randazzo to found Toronto Dance Theatre. During her 25 years as co-director and resident choreographer, she created 24 original works for the company. Her dancing and most of her works have been seen across Canada many times. Her presence on stage and her dances themselves were always highly regarded when the company toured internationally from 1972 to 1993. She was also well-known as an inspiring and effective teacher of both dance technique and composition.

Trish was known for her special theatre presentations which she produced, curated, and created for. They included Painters and the Dance, a highly successful collaboration with three Toronto visual artists, presented at the St Lawrence Centre; two seasons of a production entitled Dancing the Goddess, an exploration of the sacred feminine in music and dance; and a downtown event entitled Esperanza, an evening of affirmation in dance following the 9/11 attacks in the United States. A film of Dancing the Goddess has been shown on Vision and Bravo television many times over the past ten years.

Trish was the author of a book on the art of making dances, now considered a classic on the subject. It is entitled Form Without Formula, and is in its sixth printing.

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 June of 2005, 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.

Trish continued to be active in dance until March 2019, when she coached two of the School’s graduating dancers in one of her many exquisite solos, High Heart, for the performances of the School’s third year show, Acceleration 2019. The two dancers, Gwendolyn Mitchell and Chelsea Mulholland, were taught the work by Danielle Baskerville and Nicole Rose Bond, two superb senior dance artists who have performed much of Trish’s work. Then Trish herself came in and coached the students, inspiring both of them with the insightfulness and depth of her vision. The two students rose beautifully to the occasion, and each performed the solo with compelling eloquence and intensity. The School plans to present High Heart again this year. Danielle tells us that Trish gave her enthusiastic approval to the idea, and we look forward to passing on this beautiful gem of choreography to two more young dance artists.

Trish leaves a lasting gift of powerful and expressive choreography, most recently exemplified by her beautiful solo High Heart. And, 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.”

Here is an excerpt of a poem by Trish, which she sent to Patricia Fraser many years ago:

to be barefoot carries no shame
‘tis to be softly connected
to the Earth and all Her wisdom
….
we modern dancers walk
our own dangerous path
we prepare and prepare
to be in touch with power
reaching out to hungry audiences
eager for affirmation
We dedicate ourselves to beauty
to the everlasting transmission
an extraordinary life indeed.