A Brief History of GMD

Part 1, by Kenny Pearl

An independent Toronto morning modern/contemporary dance class has existed in Toronto for 25 years. During that time, the class has had three incarnations. Here is a brief rundown of the twists and turns that have occurred along the way.

GMD was founded as The Teacher Collective in 1991, in CCDT’s (Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre’s) former studios on Yonge Street, by Patricia Miner, Patricia Fraser and Sylvain Brochu. Being an unsubsidized organization, this first effort shut down in 2005 as a result of a chronic cost/price imbalance. Independent dancers were unable to pay a sufficient class fee in sufficient numbers to meet teacher, accompanist and studio expenses. Given CCDT’s greater resources, and understanding the need for such a service, it assumed the operation under the name The 509 Collective. However, the ongoing expenses proved beyond CCDT’s ability to sustain. CCDT announced that classes would end in December 2010.

Ending this two-decade-old class caused a good deal of soul-searching and distress in our community. Familiar with the wealth of such open classes in New York and other dance centres, I would not accept that this city, brimming with talented artists who need ongoing exposure to good mentors to thrive, could not find a solution. With a supportive circle of fellow dancers, including Pam Shoebottom, Jesse Dell, Miranda Forbes and Jordana Deveau, who serve as our facilitators, and a larger circle of gifted teachers, we decided to renew these classes. We revived the classes at CCDT in January 2011. We employed a fresh model that included social media outreach and, instead of having a new teacher each day, made the choice to have one teacher give a full week of classes.

This new collective saw attendance increase and brought about a renewed commitment from many of Toronto’s finest teachers.

More in the next blog post about GMD’s journey since 2011.