We are devastated by the passing of Dave Toole OBE


Artistic Director Lucy Bennett reflects on the titanic figure that he was for the performing arts.

A black and white image of Dave in the Enormous Room, he sits in a cupboard.

Image Description: A black and white image of Dave in the Enormous Room, he sits in a cupboard.

Dave was involved with Stopgap from its inception. He was a mentor, board member, rehearsal director, choreographer and performer, and it was the latter that he loved the most. Joining the company as a performer in his forties, he could not wait to get back into shape and on the road performing around the world. Dave performed with Stopgap in the productions of Tracking, Artificial Things, Bill and Bobby and The Enormous Room. Wherever the company toured, fans would queue up to speak with Dave and share how they loved to watch him or how he had changed their lives.

Dave was comfortable about being an ‘inspiration’. He knew it was not because he was disabled, he knew it was because he was doing a job he was born to do. From the moment the lights came up to the moment they faded to black, he held the audience in the palms of his giant hands.

We felt Dave was invincible and that he would recover this horrible year. We had plans and productions waiting for him.

Dave’s family will tell you that throughout his life the lights have threatened to fade down on him, but being the seasoned professional he was, Dave always found his light. This year he fought hard to prevent the lights from fading on him, we all did. We leapt off of stages all across the world, sharing and shining our own lights on him through our stories, memories and love.

But we couldn’t stop the fade down nor could he, and as the lights faded, he knew we were all there in the darkness with him, holding onto him, loving him.

And now here we are Dave, in that glorious moment before the applause, before the roar of the crowd, that moment you felt so many times throughout your career, that beautiful bridge you always built between us and the audience. The moment where everyone’s emotions are heightened, where their perspectives have changed and where we all hold the same dream for a moment.

Drink it in dear Dave, enjoy this moment. You deserve it, you created it – it’s yours forever.

Dave, you have always been legendary. If we dancers had a flag it would be flying at half-mast.

RIP Dave Toole OBE

Dave’s last engagement with Stopgap was in May this year in a ‘tweet along’ watch party event for the company’s award-winning film Artificial Things, in which he also features as a performer. To see his running commentary alongside his performance, please redirect yourself to our YouTube Channel and click on ‘Show Chat Replay‘.

David Toole OBE – obituary in The Guardian

One of the world’s leading disabled dancers with a gift for combining physical power with bewitching delicacy.

Click here to read The Guardian Obituary.

Read more about Dave