The Dance Seen

Once in a blue moon you are honoured with the chance to meet someone with uncompromising vision and a master of their trade. I was this lucky on Wednesday and Saturday when I met Christopher House.

Live Art Dance presented his work “House Mix” on Saturday and I absolutely loved the dynamism and very carefully constructed pieces displaying such variety. A total of 5 pieces to enjoy, they ranged from pedestrian to technically vibrant.

It would be impossible to compare the pieces as they each have a unique persona. House’s astounding versatility is met by the dancers in Toronto Dance Theatre’s company. Their strengths lie in an ability to perform while living each moment vividly; drawing the audience in, making us feel part of their performance.

During Martingales, dancers often looked out over the crowd as if to invite us into their sprinting and ball games. At times I was on the edge of my seat waiting for them to throw us the ball they tossed back and forth. The kinetic and energetically charged piece kept them on high alert to each other creating the type of excitement that is often lost when choreography gets too shape oriented. Running in rhythm, darting for a new partner in their black converse high tops, it’s the type of piece that is most enjoyed live because of the felt connection created by in the moment choice making and space navigation.

From the Program:

A martingale is a system in a game theory in which no amount of knowledge of past outcomes will help predict a future outcome

Echo Dark was intensely cultish and was on the other end of the spectrum from the other more improvised works. This one was precise and intentional in its’ atmosphere. The dark ambiance was enhanced by the heaviness and tension in the dancers’ footwork and movement. With grimaced stares and long pauses, the work allowed for space; working its way into my bones. Formation and symbolism created cult like imagery by the 6 dancers clad in heavy dark green skirts. With such a satisfying end wrapping the whole work up like a gift to the audience, this piece, I have to say really stood out; showing a darker side of House’s work.

Photo courtesy of: Live Art Dance Productions

My show companion, Margot Auldreich, a seasoned professional Viola player was awash with appreciation for Fjeld (excerpt). Argo Pärt is one of her favourite composers and she lamented that the pleasure was in seeing the music come to life through the physicality and imagery in the work. The tableaux created first by the female duet and second by the male trio exemplify the beauty seemingly matching the original intent by the composer.

House from St John’s Newfoundland came across as such a gentile and humble Artistic Director, and his dancers naturally follow suit. Some may think that the art is separate from the artist but my value system states that the artist is the art, especially when physicality is involved. House’s kind and generous nature shines through in his creations and the dancers portray this generosity with their immense vulnerability in their stage presence. Having a chance to speak with him afterward, Mr. House reinforced my belief and added that it is important to him to showcase people on stage as they are in all of their uniqueness.

I was so satisfied that though the dancers were clearly technically proficient, none of the work leaned on technical virtuosity. It was clear that it took technique to perform each piece but the audience wasn’t blasted with one high kick after another.  Each was well rounded and meaningful with pauses for breath and settling.

I wish this group of talented people an amazing cross Canada tour!!