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In celebration of Canada 150, this dance/drama by Ballet Creole commemorates the story of Chloe Cooley, an enslaved woman in Upper Canada whose struggles in 1793 served as the catalyst for the passing of the first legislation in the British colonies to restrict the slave trade, setting the stage for the Underground Railroad.
Ballet Creole is a contemporary Dance Company, founded in 1990 by Patrick Parson. It is inspired by African Caribbean, Ballet and modern dance aesthetics. Ballet Creole presents an annual Dance Season in Toronto and tours extensively in the province of Ontario and beyond. It also runs a School of Performing Arts for pre-professional and community participants.
Artistic Director Patrick Parson, a native of Trinidad and Tobago, has been a dancer and musician from the age of 10. He continues to draw much of his artistic inspiration from the vibrant multicultural community that makes up the Caribbean.
Patrick spent his early years singing in choirs, composing and singing calypsos, playing with steel orchestras, dancing and drumming with community folk groups, and studying ballet and modern dance at the Caribbean School of Dance and the Dance Academy of Trinidad and Tobago. He was trained in the dance and drumming styles of Guinea and Senegal by Mor Thiam, the Artist Director of Les Ballets Africains, and in Canada graduated from The School of Toronto Dance Theatre.
Patrick’s founding of Ballet Creole in 1990 brought Black Dance to mainstream Canadian stages, establishing the Company as the forerunner of Black Dance in Canada. Patrick is the recipient of the Entrepreneurial Award of Merit from the African Caribbean Chamber of Commerce, and the New Pioneers Award from Skills for Change, for his pioneering work in the world of dance in Canada. He has served as cultural adviser to the Toronto Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, Metro Cultural Affairs, Ontario Arts Council, Harbourfront Centre, Laidlaw Foundation, and the Arts Advantage Program at Downsview Secondary School. Patrick holds a Masters Degree in Dance Ethnology from York University where he has been a course director in the Faculties of Fine Arts and Kinesiology. He regularly conducts workshops and lecture demonstrations for universities and schools in Ontario. Through extensive studies at the Katherine Dunham Institute for Humanities, Patrick has been awarded certification as a teacher of the Dunham Technique, which he teaches in Canada where it is little known and practiced.
Gabby has worked with Judy Jarvis, Til Thiele, Lawrence Gradus and Milton Myers. In 1975, Gabby joined the faculty of the University of Waterloo as lecturer and Artistic Director of the Repertory Dance Company and also co-founded her own company Dance Plus Four. During this time, she was a World Team Choreographer for the Canadian National Figure skating Association and Olympic Competitors. Gabby is a recipient of several awards, most recently from the City of Kitchener / Waterloo. She is currently creating works for Ballet Creole and PBJ Dance Projects and she teaches dance at Etobicoke School of the Arts
"Patrick Parson’s artistic vision creates a Canadian synthesis..."
– The Globe and Mail
"...Tenacious spirit of African retention hidden in traditional dances from the Caribbean, blended with the grace of ballet."
– SWAY Magazine