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JUNE 2022

When modern dance came to town: Highlights of dance in Victoria, British Columbia,
from 1978 to 2021

by Robin J. Miller

Published by Suddenly Dance Theatre
8.5" x 11"
288 pages
ISBN 9781778189906


Suddenly Dance Theatre celebrates the publication of Small City, Big Talent in summer 2022 coinciding with our 30th anniversary season.

In Small City, Big Talent, Robin J. Miller chronicles high points in Victoria’s dance history — in the studio, on stage and on film — over a span of 43 years. 


The book begins in 1978, when two local dance legends Lynda Raino and Constantine Darling bumped into each other on Government Street. They had danced together in Montreal years before, but neither knew the other was here. Together, they brought the excitement (and controversy) of contemporary dance to this previously ballet-bound city. This led to the establishment of the major training centres of Lynda Raino Dance and the Victoria Arts Collaborative; the advent of world-wide sensation Big Dance; and the commissioning of 'A Conversation', a piece co-created by Lynda Raino and one of the best choreographers in the world today, Crystal Pite, who, as you will learn in the book, considers her life and training in Victoria to be the foundation of her success.


The book also reveals two other big-city-size successes. Constantine Darling's productions of major dance shows (including Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Project) gave way to the Victoria Dance Series, now known as Dance Victoria. Lynda Raino's artistry connected Suddenly Dance Theatre's co-founders David Ferguson, Miles Lowry, and Lori Hamar —  leading to 30 years of dance creation.



In keeping with its mission to “support the development, creation, presentation, and preservation of the dance arts through collaboration and diverse media to reach the widest possible audience,” the book beautifully captures some of the founding stories and notable moments from our city’s dancing past.

Proceeds from “Small City, Big Talent" will go to Suddenly Dance Theatre’s Fountain of Youth Program which aims to support dance artists under age 26 for building new and diverse choreographic voices.


"With a hop, a skip and a jeté, Victoria-based dance writer Robin J. Miller covers the extraordinary sweep of dance history in British Columbia’s capital city. Who knew that Mikhail Baryshnikov played a round at the Royal Colwood Golf Club ... that acclaimed choreographer Crystal Pite crafted her first dance at age three ... or that one gifted dancer had to resort to shoplifting to feed her family? But Small City, Big Talent is more than an entertaining tell-all book. It astutely observes how Victoria’s maritime environment inspires the remarkable talent that has emerged on the city’s stages, and it salutes the courageous organizations that have brought dance in all its forms to Victoria." 

- Anne Moon, former entertainment editor of The Toronto Star.

Thank you.

The initial research for and writing of this book were supported by a commission from the Dance Victoria Society with funds from the Betty Wilkinson bequest. Further research and writing were supported by a commission from Suddenly Dance Theatre. 


The publication of Small City, Big Talent was commissioned by Lorna Harris, Robert G. Milne, Mariann Burka & Noreen Marshall, Dr. Ross Parke, Dr. Robert Brunham and Sandra Brunham, Kalen Brunham, Liam and Sanja Brunham, Dr. Bonnie Leadbeater, and Dr. James Farrow.

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Suddenly Dance Theatre is a charitable non-profit society based in Victoria, BC Canada.
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