Darrel Toulon

Darrel Toulon 

© Sakher Almonem

Darrel Toulon born 1964.

Darrel Toulon was born on the Caribbean Island of Dominica in 1964 and moved to Europe at age 17. After receiving his International Baccalaureate from the United World College of the Atlantic (Wales), he began dance studies first at Thamesdown Community Dance Centre (Swindon), then at Central School of Ballet (London). In 2018 he completed training in Cultural Management at the Institute for Cultural Concepts in Vienna.

Since 1987, he worked radially from his base in Cologne, Germany, as dancer, teacher, choreographer, actor and singer, in diverse productions of dance, opera, theater and television. He remains internationally active in all fields, working in the global north and south, where he is engaged also in community and educational settings, with professional and non-professional dancers, actors, singers and musicians of all ages.

As Ballet Director of Opera Graz (2001-2015), he engaged dancers and choreographers from 29 countries thereby endorsing cultural diversity, and he regularly collaborated with protagonists of the free scene. His vast choreographic output during these years includes re-visioned established works like Cinderella, The Sleeping Beauty, Romeo Juliet, Firebird, Rite of Spring, and Nutcracker as well as original experimental creations using commissioned scores, acousmatic and electroacoustic music as well as live-improvisation. Darrel Toulon was awarded the First Austrian Dance Production Special Prize (2002) for successfully modernizing the dance company of Opera Graz. His Community Dance Project THROUGH THE OPEN DOOR (2015), created with young Refugee Migrants resident in Graz was awarded a “Place of Respect” Seal in 2016”.

His on-going seminal Docu-Dance-Theatre project IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER is about and with Children Born of War in Bosnia (“U IME OCA” – 2019) and Children Born in Captivity in northern Uganda (“OTINO ONYWALO ILUM” – 2020), and follows on from a series of stage productions using artistically transformed biographies of young people whose lives have been created or destroyed by war. IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER is constructed at the crossroads of verbatim documentary physical theatre, trauma transformation, and artistic citizenship.

“U IME OCA” was invited to the Osijek Peace Awards 2020 in Croatia, and Darrel was invited by the European Parliament in Brussels, to curate the Panel Discussion “Children born of war – from hidden population to bridge builders in post-conflict societies” in 2021.

Darrel Toulon is founder and artistic director of the alpha group, based in Vienna and teaches at the Anton Bruckner Private University in Linz, as well as at the Alma Mater Europaea University Ljubljana. He is regularly invited to Lecture on his work with vulnerable populations, using Docu-Dance-Theatre as a tool for creating socially and politically relevant performance art, most recently at Centre for Dance Research at Coventry University, Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Wien, and Sarajevo University of Psychology.

He held briefly the position as Vice-Rector for Art at Anton Bruckner Private University before advancing to the Research Unit where he continues to develop Docu-Dance-Theatre as a model for participatory performance art, trauma transformation and societal change.

He organizes conferences and workshops, which bring together artistic practitioners and academic researchers, experts from the disciplines of performance, psychology, sociology and contemporary history, to explore trans-disciplinary conversation platforms for the silenced and under-privileged, which could enable audiences to share safe spaces with professional performers as well as everyday experts.

Darrel Toulon was awarded the Styrian Golden Cross of Honor in 2016.