David Toole OBE

Leeds dancer, actor and equal opportunities advocate, David Toole OBE, died on Friday 16 October at St James University Hospital at the age of 56.

David was born in Armley and helped to found Canoco Dance Company in the early 1990s. The company made an impression as one for both disabled and non-disabled professional dancers. His first experience of theatre was as Puck in Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1995. The following year, he appeared in the film The Tango Lesson as the Fashion Designer.

A variety of TV, film and high profile theatre performances followed, including in London and Sydney and David made headlines as a soloist at the opening ceremony for the London 2012 Paralympic Games. His performances include those for Leeds Slung Low Theatre Company and for the past ten years, he worked with Stopgap Dance Company. He was quoted in 2012 as saying “I do have moments when I wonder, how did this dodgy postman from Leeds get to do all this?”

Through the years, David advocated for equal opportunities for disabled people in society and in the performing arts, supporting people looking for change. He was awarded an OBE for services to dance and for disabled people in recognition of his contribution to making Britain a world leader in disability arts.

Jenny Sealey artistic director of Graeae and co-artistic director of the London 2012 Paralympics Opening Ceremony: “Dave was so many things – our darling wonderful, grumpy, opinionated, glorious, silly, funny, kind, sexy, loving and wise friend.  The most unique and left-field man ever and funny beyond words.  And of course, an extraordinary performer and a unique, brilliant dancer. But above all, to all of us in Graeae, he was a dear friend and a cherished collaborator. We hope he is safe and pain-free wherever he is“.

Alan Lane, David’s friend and Artistic Director of Slung Low said” We are all so sad to hear of Dave Toole’s passing. It was such a privilege to make so many adventures with him. He had an extraordinary talent; he was a brilliant actor and the very finest dancer we’ve ever seen“.

David Toole OBE 1964 – 2020

Leeds Living