Dent, Nancy Lima (1919–2013) By Clare, Carolyne
Nancy Lima Dent helped to establish modern dance in Toronto. She initially studied with Rita Warne and Boris Volkoff, and later was a student of modern dance luminaries Doris Humphrey, José Limon, Martha Graham, Charles Weidman, Pearl Primus, and Katherine Dunham. Starting in 1946, Dent worked as a performer and choreographer with the Toronto-based Neo Dance Theatre (renamed the New Dance Theatre in 1949). In 1960, Dent established her own dance company, the Nancy Lima Dent Dance Theatre. The company received positive critical reviews for their performances in prominent Toronto theaters including Hart House Theatre and the Centre Stage Theatre. Dent participated in three Canadian Ballet Festivals and she helped to found the Festival Evening of Modern Dance Festival in 1960. The festivals were well attended and critics noted that Dent’s choreography was especially engaging. In general, her choreographies highlighted personal expression, drew upon several modern dance techniques, and grappled with the political and ethical questions of her day. Dent was also a highly appreciated dance teacher who taught in various Ontarian cities for diverse types of students. She presented dance on television, and while recovering from an injury, she served as an effective administrator in various industries.