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Holly Small

The 20th anniversary of Older & Reckless continues! We remember the senior dance artists who have joined us over the years, including the award-winning creator and educator HOLLY SMALL.

Holly presented her ensemble work Hope Dies Last at O&R 2001 and performed in Sashar Zarif’s quartet Anar at O&R 2006.

Hope Dies Last, performers L to R Tom Broulliette, Donald Himes, Viv Moore, Jean-Aimé Lalonde, Darcey Callison- photographer unknown


Photo by McKenzie James

Please tell us about a current project that excites you

I’m working on Museum of Missing Things, a project inspired by renowned Irish poet Doireann Ni Ghriofa. I’ve loved collaborating with Doireann, composer John Oswald and a superb group of dancers from Canada and Ireland. Thus far we’ve created nine dances and two videos and have presented different iterations of the project at Tipperary Dance Platform in Ireland and in several informal showings in Toronto. Recently I’ve ventured into my first on-line creative process, developing a solo with performer Jessica Runge based on Ni Ghriofa’s poem “Our Mother Who Art Missing”.

Please share a pivotal moment from your dancing past

There was a time early in my career when I nearly gave up. By the mid-1990s my university teaching job was devouring me body and soul. Fortunately, I had just enough brain cells left to get myself to a summer course with Margie Gillis. She saved my dancing life. What I remember most from those lovely days of dancing with Margie is running. And running. And running. Also floating. Sometimes sinking. Falling. Sometimes flying. Always there was glorious music. Every day was a new encounter with ecstasy. Immersed in movement, I forgot myself. Or, maybe, found myself. I fell in love with Dance and this passion has stayed with me always. Thank you Margie.

What do you consider most challenging as an experienced dance artist?

Years ago at a conference the marvellous Elizabeth Langley stood up, shook her fist, and declaimed, “The mirror is the enemy of the aging dancer!” Danny Grossman added, “Just as the artistry is going up, the body is going down.” I was too young to get it then. Now I do, but I’ve found the sure cure-all for my aging-dancer-malaise is to study Clown. For me, Clown is equal parts terror and exhilaration — like being shot out of a cannon.

As for the creative process, I often wonder why something that causes me so much angst and torment can also be the source of the most joy. It’s a mystery. P.K.Page illuminates this mystery in her provocative poem "Preparation".

It starts:

Go out of your mind.

Prepare to go mad.


And ends three stanzas later with:

Be pre-pared. And pre-pare.

But it’s never like that.

It is where you are not

that the fissure occurs

and the light crashes in.


Holly Small has participated in the grass roots development of the Dance community for 40 years. Her career encompasses choreography, performance, dramaturgy, teaching and writing. Recent dramaturgy projects in Contemporary Dance, Flamenco, Synchronized Skating and Celtic music are expanding her creative horizons.

For Holly’s full biography, please go to


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