In the second half of 1939, Canadians were volunteering to serve in the impending Second World War, the country was reeling from the economic devastation of the Great Depression and, on September 17, Charles David Ronald Earle was born in the city of Toronto.
David's dance training began at the age of five with ballet and tap lessons from Toronto teachers Beth Weyms and Fanny Birdsall; he made his dance debut at Eaton Auditorium that same year. When he was eight years old, David joined Dorothy Goulding's Toronto Children's Players and the lavish productions -- four each year -- filled his summers with the discipline and creativity of the theatre.
At Eaton Auditorium I moved and spoke on stage in myths and fairy tales until I was nineteen, and then I began to dance. It is movement as communication that has kept me tirelessly challenged and perpetually rewarded. Theatre continues to be a highly conscious aspect of my dance creations and, although I always intend to use props I rarely end up doing so. For my choreographic debut at Toronto's YMHA, I performed Oiseaux Triste to music by Ravel. I made two newspaper doves that I intended to scotch tape to my wrists but at the last moment realized they were a bad idea. My costume was a T-shirt that I had sewn between my legs. I did a huge sissonne and the whole thing went up my bum. Realizing I could not face the back of the stage I was forced to improvise. It was the first time my father had seen me dance and he came backstage and said, 'Well, young man, we saw a good deal more of you tonight than we've seen for many years'. Oiseaux Triste was never performed again.
Fleeing the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke after high school, David studied Radio and Television Arts for two years at Toronto's Ryerson Polytechnical Institute. At the age of twenty, a Bolshoi Ballet performance offered a profound inspiration to dance; he auditioned and was accepted as a scholarship student at the National Ballet School. At the NBS, where he stayed for four years, David met Eurhythmics teacher Donald Himes who introduced him to the Laban technique at modern dance artist Yoné Kvietys' studio. David performed for two years with Kvietys' company.
In 1963, David studied with renowned American modern dance artists Martha Graham, José Limón and Donald McKayle at Connecticut College and spent the next two years on scholarship at Martha Graham's school in New York. Also studying in New York were Canadians Donald Himes, Susan Macpherson, Lilian Jarvis, James Cunningham and Patricia Beatty. New Yorker Peter Randazzo was occasionally class demonstrator for Miss Graham. In 1966, as a member of the José Limón Company, David performed at Connecticut College and the American Dance Festival. With the advent of the Vietnam War, David, a green card holder, had the potential to be drafted.
David then went to England, accepting a job as dance master from arts philanthropist Robin Howard. He worked with a group of commonwealth dancers assembled for the opening of the Liverpool Christ the King Cathedral and stayed to work with the newly formed London Contemporary Dance Theatre (LCDT) under the artistic direction of New York-born Robert Cohan. (next page)
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David Earle Exhibition Curator: Michele Green
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George Donnell, Donald Himes and David Earle