33 minutes, 20 seconds


Gyorgy Kurtag, Arvo Pärt, Michael Thomas, Gavin Bryars, Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky


various selections


Costume Designer:
Lori McLean


Lighting Designer:
Aisling Sampson


Premiere Date:
May 2, 1996


Premiere Location:
Betty Oliphant Theatre, Toronto


Kate Alton, Danielle Baskerville, Bill Coleman, Todd Durling, Laurence Heartz, D.A. Hoskins, Sasha Ivanochko, Gérald Michaud, Grace Miyagawa, Naoko Murakoshi, David Pressault, Kathleen Pritchard, Suzette Sherman, Jason Troan, Dean Vollick

Summary Note

Maelstrom, a Life Cycle in Dreams, is the development of the duet Elsewhere. Maelstrom was commissioned by Nenagh Leigh for Spring Rites '96. The work is divided into five parts: Elsewhere, Youth, Love Part 1, War Part 1, Love Part 2. The Toronto Dance Theatre premiere was on December 10, 1996.

Program Note

Why present a piece about war -- the word should be banned, like “bomb” in an airport. It should demand prosecution. It is too late for war, we are already on the path of self destruction environmentally. There is now a whole generation who imagine they are untouched by the horrors of the 20th century -- but the decline in the values of humanity, so vividly present in our society, have their roots in the appalling history of humanity's unspeakable crimes against itself. Maelstrom offers a depiction of what is lost when our cruelty is allowed free reign. As the Western world seeks a confirmation of destruction we need to be reminded of the price that must be paid.

-- Dancetheatre David Earle, September 19, 2002, River Run Centre, Guelph

Interview with David Earle, December 3, 2002

Maelstrom's love duet with Danielle Baskerville and Darryl Hoskins, to Gavin Bryars' music, is so much in their blood that they can walk in after three or four months and perform it exactly as you would wish it done. I was very affected by that duet -- any duet in which Darryl is involved as a performer receives the gift of his choreographic genius because it's impossible for him not to add something of his own. He and Danielle are as close to family as I will ever have, and shaping that duet with them was very meaningful.

Journal: Thursday, April 25, 1996

Grace Miyagawa went to buy the white dress I saw on Yonge Street -- it is beautiful on her. We'll get one for each of the women. My long-time friend Bill Glassco donated $500. I will have to put $1000 of my own into it (on top of the $259 I already spent on costumes in Victoria). Today in my Beaux Arts Magazine on Symbolism I found the word “maelstrom” describing the whirling lines that surround the figures on paintings by Munch.

In the Youth section the men should wear light coloured slacks and shirts -- then change for the war into the army greens I bought in Victoria. Should some be in blue or black to distinguish them as two armies? It hardly matters which side anyone is on, or even if there are two clear sides in men's appetite for cruelty and violence. In the last scene all the dancers will be arranged as if at an army dance. Bill and I will wear berets. When I lift Suzette on my back it reminds me of my premonition of carrying death. I take my pants off -- like Marlon Brando in Last Tango in Paris -- and my shirt -- don my army coat -- helped by another soldier -- while Suzette, my wife, is being supported, or restrained, by others. I find the paper in my pocket. I'll probably take the beret off first -- drop it -- Suzette could pick it up. Grace is walking in a curve from the back to meet me. Everyone else will leave.

Journal: Monday, April 29, 1996

We lost a dress -- $35! It shrank to half its size when Todd Durling dyed it. Danielle went to get another. We still need three more pairs of green pants and two large sweaters from the army surplus on Yonge Street.

Journal: Saturday, May 4, 1996

The last day … what an epic experience. I don't remember such a response to a work of mine in this city. It was like a European audience. I was astonished -- so many people in tears afterwards. I feel so rewarded. Clearly being away from TDT is a fresh start on my work in Toronto -- though it's not where I want to be. The Anglo establishment and their mainstream media translate everything exceptional, everything miraculous, into the ordinary. When I began this work I didn't imagine that I could realize my larger vision. It was late Wednesday evening last week -- pressed to have the structure and composers' names for the program when I suddenly decided to end with Waltzing Mathilda which led to tying up the implied narrative by returning to the opening image of the piece -- Elsewhere. I have completed this work … it astonishes me.

Journal: Thursday, May 9, 1996

Such sadness. I am “dirt poor” as they say. I put my last cent into the piece. I hear it was very appreciated in the press -- I won't read it. Saturday was the greatest response, but both Thursday and Friday were greater than any Toronto reaction I can remember.