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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Nancy Lima Dent, 1919-2013

Nancy Lima Dent, 1957 / Photo by Jim Griffin, courtesy of Dance Collection Danse

>> by Amy Bowring
Pioneering modern dance choreographer Nancy Lima Dent died on February 15th, age 93, at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. Born in Toronto to Italian immigrant parents, Lima Dent was not allowed to study dance as a child but did study piano at the Toronto Conservatory of Music. Her father was interned during World War II and during this time Lima Dent began ballet lessons with Boris Volkoff. At Volkoff's studio, she was introduced to modern dance through Elizabeth Leese and discovered an immediate affinity for this form of movement. She left home to pursue dance when her father was released from the internment camp. Living a hand-to-mouth existence, she put every cent she could into her training and staged her first work in 1946, Set Your Clock at U235. With its anti-atomic weapon theme, this was the first of many works Lima Dent created that included social or political commentary. She worked for a decade with the New Dance Theatre under the umbrella of the United Jewish People's Order and was its director from 1950 through 1955. She ran a dance program for the Canadian Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers' Union in Sudbury, Ontario, from 1955 to 1957 and then returned to Toronto and set up the Nancy Lima Dent Dance Theatre. Her works were performed at the Canadian Ballet Festivals in the 1950s and at several modern dance festivals in Toronto in the early 1960s. Working with choreographers such as Yoné Kvietys, Ruth Lau, Birouté Nagys and Bianca Rogge, Lima Dent was part of a group that laid the groundwork in the mid-1960s for the boom period modern dance would experience in the 1970s.
More: dcd.ca/exhibitions/limadent/index.html
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