David Toole has no legs, but he’s walked away with two of the decade’s best dance films. The second, Lloyd Newson’s 34-minute The Cost of Living, features the three-foot-two performer as a busker in a British seaside resort. He and a roommate troll for girls on emerald lawns and in a ballet studio; later a cameraman subjects him to a viciously intrusive interview. Newson’s DV8 Physical Theatre explores the place of “outsiders” in British culture; this new release is one of its most brilliant productions yet.

In the early 1990s Toole, then a postman in Leeds, England, was plucked from a dance workshop by London’s mixed-ability company CandoCo. At the same time American choreographer Victoria Marks went to London, hooked up with CandoCo, and with director Margaret Williams made the 15-minute Outside In, in which Toole, a wheelchair-using amputee with platinum hair, exuded an irresistible seductiveness. Aired on the BBC in 1995, the film won a host of international prizes. Toole also played the designer in Sally Potter’s 1996 The Tango Lesson. Older now, craggier, still irresistible at 40, he’s as much actor as dancer.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 28, 2004

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