In 1983, under the banner ENCORE! ENCORE!, research was begun into choreographies created by Canadian dance artists working in the 1940s and 1950s for the purposes of preserving their works through reconstruction, notation, videotape and photography.


In 1983, under the banner ENCORE! ENCORE!, research was begun into choreographies created by Canadian dance artists working in the 1940s and 1950s for the purposes of preserving their works through reconstruction, notation, videotape and photography.

Assuming the enormous task of uncovering Canada’s fleeting dance story, as well as recognizing the importance of disseminating this information, DCD, with the assistance of the Laidlaw Foundation, began the task of interviewing dance pioneers as well as gathering documentation of their choreography.

The work of six Canadian choreographers was chosen, based on existing records, e.g., notes, film, photographs, music scores, and the availability of the original choreographer and/or dancers. These artists were: Gweneth Lloyd, Nesta Toumine, Nancy Lima Dent, Françoise Sullivan, Jeanne Renaud and Boris Volkoff. Following three years of research, studios were rented and dancers were hired to learn the works. Choreographic directors David Earle, David Adams and Daniel Jackson were employed to oversee the reconstruction rehearsals. The complete choreographies were then notated and videotaped.

The rehearsal process took 7 weeks in entirety and the resulting documentation has set an historical benchmark for Canadian choreography.

From this work, DCD produced a show based on the early Canadian dance story titled There’s Always Been Dance and it was performed at the Canada Pavilion at Vancouver’s EXPO ’86. Featuring Jackie Burroughs, Vanessa Harwood and Ricardo Keens Douglas, the 40-minute show was choreographed by Anna Blewchamp and written and directed by Jim Purdy.

As a result of the reconstruction research, the DCD offices automatically became the focal point as a repository for Canadian dance history, and a mandate was outlined by the Board for the future preservation of the Canadian dance record.


Dance Collection Danse is the national centre dedicated to Canadian dance history. We have achieved a world-wide reputation as a pioneer in the collection, preservation and dissemination of Canadian dance legacies. We collect dance-related material as represented by text-based documents, moving and still images, 3-dimensional objects, and other artifacts and memorabilia. We maintain the personal and business records of dance artists including choreographic notes, correspondence, films, house programs, videotapes, audiotapes, photographs, props, sets, costumes, and other memorabilia. We receive archival material as donations from arts professionals and the general public. We share our unique resources through public and virtual exhibits, workshops, publications and performance.


In the late 1980s, DCD began its electronic publishing program. This method was adopted since it seemed to be the trend. Jill Officer’s Encyclopedia of Theatre Dance in Canada; two editions of Just Off Stage, which included early articles and essays on dance personalities; Felix Cherniavsky’s Did She Dance (about Maud Allan and her art); Bernadette Carpenter’s 1950s SPOTLIGHT Newsletters; and Rosemary Deveson’s Dancing for de Basil were published on computer disk. DCD also established The Arts Network, which used a virtual Bulletin Board as a means of electronic communication.

In 1992, DCD began publishing books in print and has now published 39 titles. Dance Collection Danse Magazine is published annually and is the only magazine in the nation dedicated to Canadian dance history. The Magazineis distributed for free to interested individuals.

CLICK HERE to sign up and receive Dance Collection Danse Magazine.


DCD is committed to the ongoing process of preserving works of artists through documentation so that the bank of work for future reference and performance continues to grow. We also encourage artists and organizations to attend to the preservation of their work. The past twenty years has intentionally focussed on reaching as far back as is possible and finding those individuals who could provide first-hand accounts of the first half of the century. As DCD is “catching up”, our research is now focussed on the 1960s and 70s, we are facing a new frontier. The 1970s was a boom era for dance in Canada. Government funding provided opportunities for more companies and independent artists to create work. It was also the beginning of the establishment of ongoing university dance programs. The Dance in Canada Association was founded in 1972, hosting annual conferences with performances by companies and independent choreographers from across the country, and as well, several modern dance festivals took place. This era was also the beginning of the careers of many of the senior artists working today. This 1970s research introduces a new mode of collecting, primarily due to the introduction of videotape, providing the ability to see work, and also because more written material was produced. Therefore, these records will provide a way of studying and analyzing the working methods and aesthetics of the creators.


Lawrence Adams passed away in 2003. He had danced with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and the Joffrey Ballet in addition to The National Ballet of Canada. He served for many years as a board member of the Dance in Canada Association in the 1970s. An iconoclast and an instigator, Lawrence was a mentor to many artists, writers and scholars, and spurred people on to create new initiatives and develop many projects related to Canadian dance history.

CLICK HERE to download the special issue of Dance Collection Danse The Magazine, published in the wake of his passing.