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.