Internationally acclaimed disabled dancer David Toole from Leeds awarded OBE

Internationally acclaimed disabled dancer David Toole from Leeds awarded OBE

An image of David Toole in the production Artificial Things. He is whispering into the ear of a female dancer as if telling a secret

David Toole, who last made the headlines as a soloist at The Opening Ceremony for London 2012 Paralympic Games, has been appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s New Year’s honours list.

The OBE has been awarded for services to dance and for disabled people in recognition of David’s contribution to making Britain a world leader in disability arts.

David was one of the original cast members of Candoco Dance Company in the 90s when they made impact as the company of disabled and non-disabled professional dancers, and he went onto perform with prominent companies such as the Royal Shakespeare Company and DV8 Physical Theatre. With the latter, he had a starring role in the multi-award winning film ‘Cost of Living’, which was broadcast across the world.

Throughout his career, David advocated for equal opportunities for disabled people in society and in the performing arts, providing mentoring support to many individuals who sought positive change.

He had been performing with Stopgap Dance Company for the past 10 years until a serious illness forced him to take a career break very recently.

Speaking from his ward at St James Teaching Hospital in Leeds, David said:

‘I’ve been fortunate to be part of growing art of inclusive dance and worked with some amazing and generous people along the way. You don’t set out with awards in mind but if on that journey I’ve made a difference, then this makes me very happy.’

Despite his illness, his performance continues to have impact. ‘Artificial Things’, a film by Stopgap Dance Company that features David, won a prestigious international prize at ‘dancescreen’ recently, and the film can be watched online via the German broadcaster WDR.