The Dance Gods: A New York Memoir by Kenny PearlABOUT THE BOOK

When Kenny Pearl arrived in New York City, determined to succeed as a dancer, he was penniless, friendless and jobless. His memories shine against the backdrop of the turbulent ’60s and ’70s, including Vietnam War protests, the military draft and the rampant crime that once plagued the city. From humble beginnings in the hippie-populated Lower East Side, to performing with the greats of the New York modern dance scene—he danced with the companies of both Martha Graham and Alvin Ailey—Pearl’s life is one of tenacity, hard work and passion. This is the engaging story of the hurdles he faced on his unique journey and the remarkable people he met along the way.

Photo: Kenn Duncan/©The New York Public Library


Kenny Pearl began formal training in dance in Toronto when he was eighteen, with David
Earle and Patricia Beatty, and at the National Ballet School of Canada. He moved to New York City after graduating from the University of Toronto with a BA in English literature. He lived there for thirteen years, dancing with the Martha Graham Dance Company, the New York City Opera Ballet and around the world with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Kenny also acted in several plays, performed in and wrote comedy cabaret, and was a rehearsal director for the Graham Company. He has taught often in New York at the schools of the Graham and Ailey companies and at the Juilliard School of Music.

Back in Toronto, after a season with the Stratford Theatre Festival (1981), he was artistic director of Toronto Dance Theatre (1983 – 1987). He has taught for fifteen years at the school of Toronto Dance Theatre and has been on faculty at Ryerson University since 2002. Kenny has been a frequent guest teacher in Vancouver, Quebec City, Montreal, and Mexico City. He was a rehearsal director for Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie (2007-2012), and, since 2009, has organized bi-annual workshops for emerging artists, called the Emerging Artist Intensives. He has directed Toronto’s GMD, a professional dance class, since January 2011. In 2013 and 2014, he produced Ryerson’s Choreographic Works. Kenny wrote Dance/Life, a book which offers support to emerging dance artists. During Barreworks fitness centre’s first year, Kenny helped shape the program and train teachers.