Canadian Children's Dance Theatre
Canadian Children's Dance Theatre (CCDT) was founded in Toronto in 1980 by Deborah Lundmark and Michael de Coninck Smith, under a mandate to promote the performance of young dancers in original creation. The 16 members of CCDT, chosen in an audition process once each year, range in age from 13 to 19 years. CCDT also operates an apprentice program for younger dancers who aspire to join the company. In 2002 a sister company named TILT sound+motion was created to serve the needs of accomplished young dancers, recent graduates of professional training programs who are looking to extend their education and training while continuing to perform. The CCDT dancers train regularly in Limón-based technique and also study ballet and dramatic arts in the school associated with CCDT. Choreographic workshops for the company dancers encourage the deepening of creative skills. Former company members have gone on to study at the Juilliard School, School of Toronto Dance Theatre and the Tisch School of Performing Arts (New York), and danced with Winnipeg's TRIP, Doug Varone and Dancers, and New York City's Limón Company.
Canadian Children's Dance Theatre is one of the largest commissioners of contemporary dance creation in the country. Choreographers who have created works for the company include David Earle, Kim Frank, Carol Anderson, Holly Small, Rachel Browne, Murray Darroch, Danny Grossman, Maxine Heppner, Coralee McLaren, Tedd Robinson, Andrea Ciel Smith, Gerald Trentham and artistic director Deborah Lundmark. Choreographers Karen Kuzak, Margie Gillis, Susan Cash, Peggy Baker and Charles Moulton have mounted reconstructions. In 1997 David Earle and Suzette Sherman were CCDT's first artists-in-residence. Others have included Bill Coleman and Laurence Lemieux, Holly Small, Carol Anderson, Darryl Tracy and Heidi Strauss. The company opened its new home at 509 Parliament Street in 1995, where the studios have become a crossroads for the Canadian contemporary dance community.
Original musical commissions and live musical performance often animate CCDT's performances. Productions demonstrate a wide range of work, from the challenge of Danny Grossman's Little Black Boy (1991) for the company's collaborative project Songs of Innocence and of Experience to the quirky and witty Attack of the Small Ones (1989) and Reginald Godden's Dream (1994) by Holly Small; from the dynamism of Deborah Lundmark's Platform Blues (2005) and Unquiet Dreams (2007) to the drive and energy of Nowell Sing We (1988), and Lyra (2004) by Carol Anderson. Important acquisitions for Canadian Children's Dance Theatre were excerpts from Santee Smith's compelling Kaha:wi, while in 2008 the company premiered new choreography by Robert Glumbek and Louis Laberge-Côté.
Despite the dancers' youth, the performance level of CCDT's productions is very high, appealing to both adult and young audiences. The company performs annually in Toronto and has toured to Québec and the Western provinces. Canadian Children's Dance Theatre celebrated its 10th anniversary in 1990 with a 3-week tour of China. In the summer of 2002 the company toured Malaysia and Singapore, giving 5 performances and 4 workshops. Its performance venues have ranged from the stage at Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall to the deck of a battleship in Qing Tao, China. Also in 2002 the company gave the keynote performance at the Dance and the Child international conference in Regina.
In 2000 the Canadian Children's Dance Theatre shifted its presentation focus from family series to residencies, and as of 2008 the company had reached about 140 000 students and teachers through its outreach and development work.