Alumni Feature: David Norsworthy
David Norsworthy spent two seasons as a member of CCDT, and has since maintained a strong relationship with the Company over the past decade, from guest performing to choreographing and teaching. During his years as a CCDT member he performed roles in works by dancemakers such as Danny Grossman, Robert Glumbek, Sidra Bell, Carol Anderson, Deborah Lundmark, and Charles Moulton, and notably was an original cast dancer in Colin Connor's ARENA.
David is currently a Toronto-based dance artist who is “an exceptionally lucid performer, impressive and articulate” (The Globe and Mail). His recent choreographic project “Possibilities of Dialogue”, was co-produced by North York Arts, and other professional accomplishments include presenting choreographic works at various festivals and series, commissions by established dance programs and companies, and performing and touring worldwide with Peggy Baker Dance Projects (Toronto), Dancenorth (Melbourne), ZviDance (New York), and Skånes Dansteater (Malmö), among others. He is the Co-Director of TOES FOR DANCE, a non-profit that produces workshops and performances across Canada.
Briefly describe your history with CCDT.
I trained and danced with CCDT from 2007-2009 and also performed in the 30th anniversary show! I've taught at SunDance, and co-founded the Ignite! program (a partnership between TOES FOR DANCE and CCDT) that has been offered each summer since 2013.
What have you been up to since leaving CCDT?
After CCDT I continued my studies at The Juilliard School in New York City (2009-2013). Since graduation I've been pursuing a freelance career as a performer, choreographer and educator.
What skills did you gain from your experiences at CCDT that have been useful and/or transferable since you have moved on?
The most poignant lesson from my training at CCDT was about appreciating subtlety and nuance. My dance experience before CCDT was mostly in commercial forms through competitive dance — which bolstered my passion for dance but didn't necessarily ask me to consider anything deeper than "the moves". I remember being struck by the importance of "beautiful" as a concept in my first year at CCDT... like people would say "ohhh, that was a beautiful moment" and I didn't quite understand what they meant. What IS beauty anyways? What makes dancing beautiful as opposed to "awesome" or "cool"? Immersed in CCDT's environment I was able to examine my relationship to dance as art (vs. dance as sport) and began to engage creatively with the form, which started with noticing the multiplicity of choices one has as a performer and choreographer.
Did you have any favourite work(s) you performed during your time with CCDT? What made it the most fulfilling or memorable to you?
Robert Glumbek's Out and About. The extreme physicality, and the brilliant ending that is so anti-climactic but totally unexpected (and awesome) in that way.
From left: Victoria Scanlon, Jennifer Morse, David Norsworthy, Adelaide Batuk, and Taryn Na in Out and About by Robert Glumbek, featured in CCDT's Turning 30! anniversary production in 2011. Photo by David Hou.
Were there any choreographers, teachers, guest teachers or guest artists you worked with at CCDT who have been greatly influential on your training and/or growth as a dancer and artist?
Sidra Bell. She was the first guest choreographer we worked with in Fall 2007 (preparing for WinterSong) and she totally exploded my ideas of what dance is and could be. She also graciously allowed me to perform a solo excerpt of her work as my audition solo for Juilliard, and generously coached me leading up to the audition.
Who is currently giving you inspiration?
Su-Feh Lee, Marielis Garcia, Monet Marshall
How did you balance the training and performance demands of CCDT with school, family commitments, and the rest of your life?
High school was the most exhausting time of my life. Fulfilling, yes, but looking back, it wasn't a very healthy pace. My advice? Commit to un-scheduled time in your week during which joy and love can be top priorities (this means you might need to say "no" to some things that are difficult to say "no" to), protect your mental health (meditate, journal, take time off when you need to etc), and ask yourself what it means to work smarter, not harder.
David Norsworthy also performed Danny Grossman's Contradanse at Turning 30!, with Miranda Rix-Hayes. Photos by David Hou. Click any image to enlarge.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about auditioning for CCDT?
Before you audition, do some reflection around your inherent value as a human and artist. What qualities or characteristics make you unique? What do you have to offer an organization like CCDT? (Hint: you have a lot to offer, even if you don't think so.) For many young people, it's easy to "erase" yourself at an audition because you want to "fit in" or display the qualities that you assume the panel is looking for... Actually, the panel wants to see YOU and get to know YOU. It's important to demonstrate that you're open to feedback and learning — but don't let that change who you are. Can you represent yourself with a balance of confidence and humility? As the audition progresses, immerse yourself in the experience and ask yourself "Is this the kind of environment that I want to be in?" — you can audition CCDT, while CCDT auditions you. Newsflash: your inherent value doesn't change either way when you find out your audition results.
Closing remarks: Is there anything else you would like to share?
I often ask myself, and encourage others to ask themselves: Who is my art for?, Who benefits from my art?, and How can I use my art to cultivate the conditions for positive social change?
Photos (top and above) by Francesca Chudnoff
Visit the links and watch below to learn more about David and his work:
Visit the TOES FOR DANCE website and learn more about the Ignite! summer intensive, running online from July 26-31, 2020:
Possibilities of Dialogue