History and Overview

For a number of years, dance was the only arts discipline in Canada without a broad-based national arts service organization. This led to challenges stemming from a lack of national representation, communication, and coordination. The CDA was established to address those needs – needs repeated on many occasions since the collapse of the Canadian Association of Professional Dance Organizations (CAPDO), and the Dance in Canada Association (DICA).

For years, infighting and old arguments separated the dance community in Canada. The Dance in Canada Association (DICA), once a powerful voice for dance is no longer. The Canadian Association of Professional Dance Organizations (CAPDO), which broke away from DICA in the late 1970’s and which too was once a powerful voice for dance, was weakened in the late 1990’s to a point where it became redundant.

A new beginning starts by acknowledging the past, our history. Moving forward with the knowledge of that history is important.

Blazing the Dance Trail, held in Toronto in May 2001 for the Canadian dance community, was the first conference of the Canadian Association of Professional Dance Organizations (CAPDO) convened in years. The delegates found common ground in the need for dance to promote and educate, as well as communicate; in the need for professional development; as well as in the need to gather information – statistical, qualitative and quantitative – to make ourselves understood.

A new board of directors for CAPDO was assembled with a mandate given by the delegates to achieve some objectives on behalf of the dance community. The task that occupied the group the most was:

Developing a statement of needs for a strong national mechanism for dance in Canada; defining the parameters of that/those mechanism(s), potentially as a National Arts Service Organization (NASO), and/or a federation of Regional Arts Service Organizations, and/or a membership-based organization, and/or other.

At its meeting in December 2001, the Board of Directors of CAPDO unanimously passed a motion: “to continue to operate CAPDO while we develop a new national entity to meet the needs of the dance community”.

This decision was made with the recognition that a truly new national organization was required. A significant turning point was reached. The Canadian Dance Assembly grew out of this turning point, as well as the ideas discussed at Blazing the Dance Trail in May 2001, and since.

On April 9, 2002, the Canadian Dance Assembly was launched. In the following 6 months, over 50 organizations and individuals joined the Canadian Dance Assembly. They created 6 Standing Councils: Ballet Companies, Dance Companies, Dance Presenters, Service and Support, Independent Dance Artists, and Dance Consultants and Freelancers.

During the month of October 2002 – through a process of nominations, elections and appointments – the first representative National Council of the organization was formed to replace the Founding National Council.

The first representative National Council of the CDA held its inaugural meeting on November 30 and December 1, 2002 in Toronto, Ontario. This meeting set a course to continue to build the organization that has given hope of a better future to the community. Work began on the development of a more realistic plan toward realizing the potential of our organization’s mandate.

In April 2003, the CDA established its permanent home at the Historic Distillery District Complex in Toronto, a place where it will become part of a diverse and lively local arts community, while it focuses on the national dance community. The secretariat will enable the organization to continue to work toward its goals.