November 25th, 2008
The Toronto Dance Theatre celebrates its 40th anniversary this season. To mark the occasion, Christopher House has choreographed a new piece, Dis/(sol/ve)r. I had the pleasure (and utter treat) of seeing the company perform the new piece on Saturday night.
Two Sundays ago, after visiting with a very dear friend (whom I’ve known since we were three), my girlfriend Amanda and I were driving back home. We danced together for all of our high school years, and have known one another since grade school. She’s still in the business, teaching, choreographing, learning, despite her own health issues. The tragic hip pretty much put the nail in my dancing coffin years ago, but I’ve been recreational with it for a while. It was Amanda’s suggestion that I come along with she and her husband to this particular show. Seeing as I’ve been taking classes on and off at the School of the Toronto Dance Theatre, I thought maybe it would be a good idea to catch an actual performance. Wow, was I ever surprised.
The piece was gorgeous. Lasting about an hour from beginning to end, it flowed in and out of representations of modern life, of men dressed in suits, of women in pretty dresses, of relationships as they collapse and morph into something else. The company, which numbered nine dancers, came together, coupled on stage, and fell into some absolutely gorgeous movement as they explored the piece’s premise. My favourite moments include the opening pas de deux, with two men, one towering over the other as he holds out his hand continuously out of reach, the first full company movement where they almost floated on stage as they moved in and out of different configurations and a particularly vivid coupling that left one dancer, ahem, putting herself back together at its end.
Phil Strong’s original music was luxurious and seemingly effortless in how it matched the piece. If it was for sale, I think I would have purchased it on the spot — I enjoyed it that much. And the set, oh, the set, it was just so beautiful, long, flowing pieces of these gorgeously muted silk fabrics, draped and almost billowing at the edges of the stage. I didn’t want the performance to end. The hour flew by. I didn’t yawn. I didn’t nod off (as I am wont to do during some ballet performances; I love it, but still, it’s hot and stuffy in there sometimes). And when I was finished I clapped long and hard.