Stage Door News

Toronto: Dovercourt House Dance Hub is forced to close after 21 years

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Dovercourt House, a hub for dance for over twenty years, is the City’s latest cultural casualty. Dovercourt House has been the full-time home of princess productions, CORPUS and Kaeja d’Dance for 21 years. These resident companies occupied Dovercourt’s ballrooms during daytime hours developing works that have toured the world. In the evenings and weekends the space turned into a centre of social dance, classes and events. Tens of thousands of Torontonians have come through its doors to practice Swing, Latin and Urban as well as yoga, capoeira and expressive arts therapy. Dovercourt House’s three beautiful spaces have been popular with professional dance companies and as a social hub for community groups and artists who have depended on its warm atmosphere and properly sprung floors. 

Dovercourt House has been closed for most of the past year due to Covid and the former leaseholder secured assistance through the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance, a program in which the landlord agreed to accept reduced rent. The landlord has recently secured a new leaseholder who does not plan to continue the building’s current usage. The news comes after Dancemakers announced in November 2020 that it will close its studio doors in July 2021. The closing of Dovercourt House and Dancemakers spaces represents a combined loss of five studios from the City’s cultural infrastructure.

The news came as a shock to the three resident companies who have been paying their rent on time for over two decades, benefitting both the landlord and the performing arts community. In the early 2000’s the three companies secured a number of Ontario Trillium Foundation grants to make long-lasting renovations to the studios.

We have poured energy, care and love into this wonderful building. These studios have allowed us and other members of the dance community, to build relevant and successful local and touring works, while deepening our art forms. Losing the Dovercourt House is an absolute major blow, not just for the three companies that have made it their permanent home, but to the arts community at large. ” David Danzon, Artistic Director, CORPUS

The landlord was looking to receive higher rent for the building but did not approach the resident companies to negotiate. Instead, the landlord found a new leaseholder without informing the current tenants. The resident companies and the new leaseholder are in discussion to smooth the transition period.

“The Dovercourt House was a creative home that provided stability for the inspirations of the resident companies. For two decades the crossover of professional practices and activity in the building facilitated a sense of belonging and consistency. Affordable, large, open reliable space in the city is a scarcity. Dance companies are being chased out. Having to move out of the Dovercourt House is tragic and the Toronto performing arts community will indeed feel a huge loss.” Karen Kaeja, Co-Artistic Director, Kaeja d’Dance

Dovercourt House is unique in the City in being a hub for both the professional and the amateur dance lover. The building was established in 2001 by 7 resident companies (including the current 3 resident companies) as a dance hub for research and development. Torontonians have benefitted from this space and the social capacity that arose spontaneously. The resident companies provided revenue stability which, along with the hard work of the outgoing building’s property manager Andy Haslett, allowed this hub to grow. This was the real-life realization of the stimulative effect of the arts in a community.

In the 20 years since then, Dovercourt House has been home to a number of well-respected, highly regarded and artistically talented performance companies, events, dances and dance schools. Among those regular groups are: 

Kaeja d'Dance (Dance Performance Company), 

princess productions (Dance Performance Company), 

Corpus (Dance Performance Company), 

Swing Toronto (Saturday Night Swing! Dance & Classes, Workshops),

GoDanz (Salsa and Kizomba Dances, Classes and Workshops), 

Paradiso Tango (Argentine Tango Dances and Classes), 

Toronto Tango Club (Argentine Tango Dances and Classes), 

Toronto Dance Fridays (Salsa and Bachata Dances and Classes), 

Bachata Me (Bachata Dances and Classes), 

Bachata Cielo (Bachata Dance Classes and Events), 

Milonga Maleva (Argentine Tango Dances and Classes), 

Bachata Rosa (Bachata Dances and Classes), 

Midday Fix  (Salsa and Bachata Dances), 

The Move Collective (Expressive Dance Event), 

TO West Coast (West Coast Swing Classes and Dances), 

Araguacu Latin Dance Company (Latin Dance School), 

iFreeStyle (Latin Dance School), 

Sugar Hoops (Hoop Dancing Classes and Jams), 

Sunday Contact Jam (Contact Improvisation Classes and Jams), 

Tout En Connexion (Modern Bachata Dance School), 

Baila Toronto (Brazilian Dance Classes and Events), 

Sat Dharam Kaur (Yoga Teacher Training), 

Young Yoga Masters (Children's Yoga Workshops), and many more individual and one-off renters in the arts/dance/spiritual health fields.

Photo: Dovercourt House.