The dancer, and advocate, was an inspiration at MoMo Dance Theatre since it opened
Wonderful, mischievous – and a thought activist and advocate – Calgary artist Thomas Poulsen was a well of inspiration during his life.
He passed away earlier this month, leaving a hole in the Calgary arts community.
Of all his successes, Poulsen was widely recognized as a leader in integrated dance with MoMo Dance Theatre. Integrated dance meaning traditional technique with mixed or disabled dancers.
Poulsen, who had cerebral palsy, first walked into MoMo theatre shortly after it opened in 2003.
He actually arrived with a friend, who had a developmental disability, and was there in a support capacity. He hoped the dance theatre would be good for his friend – it ended up being good for them both.
“Eventually, the other guy drifted off, but Thomas stayed with it forever,” said Pamela Boyd, MoMo founding artistic director. “He is MoMo, in my mind. It’s very difficult – very difficult – to think about the MoMo community without Thomas, without him contributing to our work. It’s a very sad event.”
He was a staple throughout many Calgary endeavours, not only in the arts, but standing up for the underrepresented.
“He fought strongly for everybody’s rights, not just the disabled, but everybody,” explained his brother, Simon Poulsen. “He wanted an inclusive society where we are all equals.”
Simon said his brother never let his disability get in the way of anything he wanted to do – from dance to becoming a ski instructor.
“I’m a little biased, but I think he was the most amazing person,” Simon chuckled.
Simon and his sister, Sarah, have organized a memorial service for their brother, to take place on Jan. 29 at Festival Hall.
Simon said he’s been blown away with the outpouring of love and support since his brother passed – but not necessarily surprised by it all.
Boyd said she expects many to attend the memorial.
“There’s no question that he was a trailblazer and a pioneer – one of the first disabled performers to break though the barrier between disability arts and mainstream performance,” said Boyd. “I think that’s very significant. And he was visually a very interesting man – if he was there, you noticed him.
“He’ll be hugely missed.”
Source: Calgary Metro News.
By: Aaron Chatha