A couple Moore duets

Rating: NNNNNSMALL MIDNIGHT choreography by Claudia Moore and Tedd Robinson, presented by MOonhORsE dance theatre at Artword (75 Portland). Previews.

Rating: NNNNN

SMALL MIDNIGHT choreography by Claudia Moore and Tedd Robinson, presented by MOonhORsE dance theatre at Artword (75 Portland). Previews Tuesday (May 29), opens Wednesday (May 30) and runs to June 2, Tuesday-Saturday 8:30 pm, matinee Saturday 4 pm. $12-$17, preview $10, matinee pwyc. 416-408-2783.

claudia moore bites into a

chicken salad sandwich and tells me that we all have a different way of moving.

“You can tell a lot about people by watching them move,” she says. “By what they hold back, what they show, what’s contained inside and how much they give out. The tension in their muscles, the generosity in their eyes.”

So what can I tell about Moore by the way she moves? Well, unlike a lot of professional dancers, she doesn’t exude that self-satisfied, shoulders-back, look-at-me air when she walks through a room or sits at a table. Onstage, there’s a boldness, a sureness. But in person, at least today in this little cafe, she’s more delicate and modest.

Words that best describe Moore this afternoon? Intuitive, sensitive, searching. All appropriate adjectives for her latest work, Small Midnight, which she’s co-choreographed with dance great Tedd Robinson.

“Small Midnight is the name of a plant I put into my garden last year,” she says. “The name suggested intimacy, privacy, magic. I decided to make it the title of my next piece and to work with those thoughts in mind. Small things, small details, quietness. Small midnight is the time of day when you can speak with your inner self and think thoughts you can’t during the busy daytime.”

The work consists of two multi-part duets, one choreographed for Moore and Fiona Drinnan by Robinson, the other choreographed by Moore for Miko Sobreira and Bonnie Kim.

“Both duets take place in a room, and it’s almost like the room has a history,” she explains, hardly touching her sandwich. “Once, it was inhabited by these two women, and at another time it was lived in by this man and this woman.”

Though Moore imagines a story between her character and Drinnan’s, she’s not telling.

“I hope people come and have their own impressions of the relationship,” she says. “There’s definitely a journey and an arc, a lapse of time. Tedd talked about the first section being youthful, the second being womanly, the last section maybe even moving into old age.”

The story, she says, is present in the choreography, but it’s also embedded in the fact that she and Drinnan have been dancing together on and off for 10 years.

“There is already a relationship there,” she says. “There’s an intuitive regard, a playfulness. She’s like my sister, in the best sense.”

Having danced with the National Ballet of Canada and studied with luminaries like Lindsay Kemp and clown/bouffon great Philippe Gaulier, Moore is always interested in characters and telling stories. Not for her your Merce Cunningham abstraction.

“Abstract dance isn’t for me,” she says. “Others do it really well, I appreciate it and like to watch it. But my choreography is always based in character.”

With a busy schedule that includes theatre as well as dance — she’s working on The Drowsy Chaperone at the same time as Small Midnight — Moore remains grateful that the contemporary world allows its artists to age gracefully.

“We go through huge changes. We think we’re living in this tribe, then we’re over in that tribe. Things shift. We change. But the fact that I’ve been able to dance my way through everything has been just great.”

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