Interview with David Toole

David Toole is a dancer from Leeds who has performed with the notable DV8 and Candoco dance company. In 2012, he took centre stage (and air) at the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games, dancing to music by singer Birdie. On top of that, he's performed at the National Theatre of Wales and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Voice caught up with him to ask him your questions.

Interview with David Toole

Have you always been interested in dance, or was it something that you grew into as opportunities presented themselves?

I'd always wanted to be a performer. I had always done the school plays etc but once I left school the opportunity didn't arise to pursue my ambitions. It was only much later and through a series of events that I was given a leaflet about a dance workshop led by CandoCo dance company that led me to where I am now.

What are the main barriers facing young disabled dancers today and what advice would you give them?

I think slowly the barriers are beginning to come down. The best advice is to find opportunities locally to either do workshops on get involved in some kind of performing.

How has the dance landscape changed for disabled dancers since you first started dancing?

I think audiences are more open now to seeing disabled dancers onstage, but sometimes the quality is lacking, a very difficult thing to quantify. I have seen some very bad, well intentioned integrated dance over the last twenty years and I sometimes question the reasoning behind it.

What is your new touring production, David Toole and Lucy Hind's Extraordinary, about? What's the story behind it?

This piece is pretty much about being human and how we all carry our own weaknesses.

What's your favourite style of dance that you use in your work?

I don't have a favourite style particularly.

How do you prepare for performing in front of such a huge audience like at the Olympic Games?

It seems like a strange answer but you prepare in exactly the same way you would prepare for any performance. Ultimately you are doing the same thing; it's only the size of the audience that changes...

When you collaborate, what sort of artists do you choose to work with?

I like collaborating with people that interest me and that I get on with. You work better with people you get on with and I think this is true in any way of life.

Do you think the Olympics left any cultural legacy on the UK?

It's difficult to answer this question and I think only time will tell. I can only say that at this moment in time I have not noticed any significant changes.

How do you see your dance career from here? Will you always dance or would you branch out into other art forms?

I have never planned my career and apart from wanting to work with DV8, I have never really had any great ambitions. I'm always grateful to still be working after twenty years. As I get older of course dancing gets a little harder so I have spent much of the last ten years or so looking at the acting side of performance. I imagine this would the way my career may go in the long term...

Follow David on Twitter at @dtoole764

Examples of David's dance work can be seen here:

You can watch the video of him dancing at the Paralympic Games here:


Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe..

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