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Grant Strate The great statesman is gone. 1927 - 2015

As Carol Anderson said when we got the news, "Hard to believe, isn't it? I thought he'd go on forever."






From Wen Wei Wang:

A memorial service for Grant will be held;


Monday, February 16
2:00 pm
Mount Pleasant Universal Funeral Home
306 East 11th Avenue , (at Kingsway)
Vancouver BC

(open casket viewing from 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm prior to memorial service)


SVP - In lieu of flowers or gifts, we kindly request donations to the Grant Strate Endowment Fund
for the Scotiabank Dance Centre
or mail to:
the Dance Centre
677 Davie Street
Vancouver BC V6B 2G6

Following the memorial, I  will welcome guests to a reception at 128 West 13th Avenue, Vancouver, BC.


From Dance Collections Danse:  


The great statesman is gone. Dance Collection Danse is saddened by the death of Grant Strate. A great instigator, motivator and advocate, Grant leaves a tremendous legacy in Canadian dance.


A charter member of the National Ballet of Canada and its first resident choreographer, Grant used to joke that he left one bar for another barre referring to his decision to leave a law career for one in ballet. Our founders, Lawrence and Miriam Adams, knew him well working alongside him at the National Ballet and the Dance in Canada Association.


After he left the National Ballet, Grant founded Canada's first university dance program at York University, helped to create the Dance in Canada Association, initiated the National Choreographic Seminars, went on to chair the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University, and was President of the World Dance Alliance - Americas.


He was also a sought-after teacher known for his challenging combinations; he forged new links with the dance scene in China through his teaching. We extend warm wishes to Grant's friends and colleagues in Vancouver where he had made his home since the 1980s.

Grant Strate at 80.                                                                                                                                         photo: Alex Waterhouse-Hayward


Catch dance writer Carol Anderson's article on Grant Strate in the most recent issue of The Dance Current.. 


"In preparation for her profile of Canadian dance legend Grant Strate, which appears in the newest issue of The Dance Current available on newsstands the first week of September, Carol Anderson asked friends and colleagues about their memories and recollections of working with the man himself."


To learn more pick up the September/October 2014  issue of The Dance Current or purchase Grant Strate’s A Memoir, available from Dance Collection Danse.


The lawyer who "left town with the circus" (aka National Ballet of Canada) to enter the practice of ballet, and the architect of numerous Canadian initiatives that changed the way dance is understood here,  Grant is Canada's Statesman of Dance.


The first Bachelor of Fine Arts, Honours Dance offered in our country, The National Choreographic Seminars, and the existence of Vancouver's The Dance Centre came about through his savvy and determination. 


Highly opinionated, capable of boundless delight at a good joke, he has long been generous with his support, hospitality and famously lethal martinis..  I'm one of countless dance students whose careers were forged under the influence of Grant Strate and his bold ventures.  We can't thank him enough.



“When I started at York I was only sixteen, and questioning everything.  After a few months I plunged into Grant’s office and asked him darkly why we had to do the same thing every day to be a dancer – endlessly repetitive pliés and tendus, and so on. His office in the Fine Arts Building was all glass windows, steel and angles of light, and I can remember him gazing out for a moment, his face all chiseled angles and lines, then said, ‘It’s a ritual. It suits some people and not others.’ I sighed and huffed out the door. I remained erratic in attending class for many years. Then, once in my thirties, dropping in to a ballet barre he taught without fail every Sunday in Vancouver, I remembered this conversation and wondered why I’d been foolish enough to ever miss a single day. 


I got to know Grant because I lived not far from him, and he began offering me rides to campus. Many winter mornings, mostly listening to his ideas and opinions on things. Once he made a solo for me during a work I cannot recall the title of. Wonderful Lubos Czerny made the music, but during the solo, the only accompaniment was sounds made by other dancers. He gave me Noh theatre makeup from Japan, which I was extremely honoured by, accompanied by a note that meant the world to me at that fledgling time:  ‘Despite your own doubts, I have none about you. You are predictably unpredictable. Love, Grant.’  Later I remember people saying the solo had a sexist edge, the sounds made by the ensemble seem derisive. I don’t recall that. It was one of my favourite moments of all my time at York and remains a vivid memory.


Grant has stories about his students he never stops telling. In 2012, I found myself seated next to him at a summer dinner party, and he initially didn’t recall who I was. When we straightened that out, he immediately launched into his story about the first time he made me a solo, for a performance at the David Mirvish Gallery in 1976 to an electronic score. It was full of that Strate-esque, highly idiosyncratic gestural material and structure, and I gamely did what he said. He remembers getting through the whole piece in one session. At the next rehearsal a week later, I’d forgotten the entire thing. He couldn’t believe it, as, since he didn’t remember it either, he had to start over from scratch. He was stunned–he said he’d never encountered another dancer who didn’t consider it their duty to remember the material.”~ 


(below) Susan McKenzie in Trackings by Grant Strate (1977)/

Photo courtesy of Dance Collection Danse"