Trevor Copp to perform First Dance at the Performing Arts Centre - two week run.

theartsBy Pepper Parr

October 1, 2014



When the Performing Arts Centre was first opened there was deep concern amongst the smaller theatrical and performance groups that there would not be a place for them – and during the Heatherington regime – there wasn’t much in the way of “local” talent on that stage.

When Brian McCurdy took over and got some of the problems worked out he began to include local groups in the program.


Trevor Copp, founder of Tottering Biped Theatre and one of the partners planning on holding a Film Festival in Burlington.

Trevor Copp, founder of Tottering Biped Theatre will perform at the Performing Arts Centre for a two week run.

Thursday evening First Dance, a significant re-interpretation of that traditional first swing around the dance floor by a freshly wed bride and groom will be performed by Trevor Copp and dance partner Jeff Fox.

Copp is a fine performer, he doesn’t walk – he glides. He has tremendous control over his movements and is a delight to watch. I’ve not actually seen Trevor Copp dance – other than the occasion when he was declared one of Burlington’s BEST a number of years ago. On that occasion he floated out into the middle of the room and made his acceptance comments.

The Gazette will be doing a review of the First Dance – look for it on Friday when Lana Kamaric reports on the performance.

Copp was the person who appeared before city council about two years ago and asked why he, as an artist, could not earn his living in his community. We didn’t know it at the time but that delegation was the first peek at what is an energetic arts community that few knew about.

Following the Copp delegation we saw the creation of the Arts and Culture Collective that speaks on behalf of much of the art community.


Trevor Copp talks with Angela Pap during the unveiling of the Spiral Stella at the Performing Arts Centre earlier in the week.

Trevor Copp talks with Angela Paparizo during the unveiling of the Spiral Stella at the Performing Arts Centre last year.

That was followed by the first No Vacancy event at the Waterfront Hotel in 2013 – to be followed by a hugely successful second No Vacancy event at the Village Square.

And now Trevor Copp gets to dance on the Performing Arts Centre Stage telling the story about how, a man about to marry his male partner sets about devising their traditional First Dance. Through Ballroom dance and Theatre, the journey of a gay man is explored through the challenge of creating a dance for a ritual that has no history.

The dancing will be superb – what many will not get immediately is the political undertone of the performance. In our society men lead on the dance floor – how does that happen when both dancers are male? Our assumptions get challenged and we find we are facing a “cultural blind spot”.

As Copp was planning his own wedding (which has since ended) all the assumptions had to be deconstructed and a new approach created.


Trevor Copp, the Burlington actor who mobilized trhe arts into a Collective makes a point on leadership while Executive Director of the Burlington Museum's operation listens.

Trevor Copp, the Burlington actor who mobilized the arts into a Collective makes a point on leadership while Executive Director of the Burlington Museum’s operation listens.

This performance has “gay” stamped all over its marketing – a bold and quite unexpected step for Burlington. Would the performance attract the gay community from Toronto and Hamilton?

Copp wasn’t sure. He expects word of mouth will draw the audience and he is delighted that the Performing Arts Centre has given him a two week run. Something also unheard of in this city for a local group.

Copp has performed First Dance in Guelph, Kitchener and Hamilton and in the very near future he will be taking the production to Albania.

He has done between 25 and 30 performances of a production that undergoes constant change.

For those attending the event – there will be some wonderful dancing and a challenge to many of the assumptions we make about marriage and the roles each partner plays.

Copp takes his performance a couple of steps further and has added “Talk Back”; he works at getting into a dialogue with the audience after the performance. Copp has found in the past that people just blurt out a thought or a feeling.

This is tricky stuff – the performer has no idea what will come from the audience – perhaps nothing which makes for an awkward moment.

Copp doesn’t appear in the least deterred by something that might not work out.
This is new, exciting and bold stuff – Brian McCurdy deserves kudos for bringing First Dance to his stage.

October 2 through to the 5th and from the 9th to the 11th. Matinee performances are included. Moderately priced. Tickets can be booked on the Performing Arts web site.  Box office 905-681-6000



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