Christopher House would rather talk particle theory than bask in past glories.
DIS/(SOL/VE)R choreography by Chris to pher House, presented by Toronto Dance Theatre at the Fleck Dance Theatre (207 Queens Quay West). Opens Tuesday (November 18) and runs to November 22, Tuesday-?Saturday 8 pm. $20-?$38. 416-?973-?4000, harbourfrontcentre.com, tdt.org.
Christopher House is celebrating 30 years with Toronto Dance Theatre, and the company itself is marking its 40th birthday. But House is so immersed in his new piece, he'd rather look forward than back.
"The past doesn't interest me much," he says in his typically thoughtful way, a week and a half before the world premiere of Dis/(Sol/ve)r. "I'm more interested in discovering something new and in being with the people I'm with."
Four and a half years ago, dance lovers got to see Retro Vista, a retrospective of House's TDT works so rich and wide-ranging, it was presented over two jam-packed nights.
"That felt like it, in terms of the life of those pieces," says House modestly. "The school (School of Toronto Dance Theatre) performs some of them - they're clear, somewhat challenging, but they don't engage me as much as what I'm doing now."
Founded in 1968 by Torontonians David Earle and Patricia Beatty and American Peter Randazzo - all former students of Martha Graham - TDT continues to change and reinvent itself. House, a former political science student who switched to dance after taking an elective, first performed with the company in 1978, then joined full time the following year.
"The dance world and the marketplace for dance were different then," says House. "In some ways the climate is much more interesting now." He pauses, considers. "I think at one point in the company, people realized that everything had to start from the work. There was no point in developing something based on, say, Alice In Wonderland just to get booked somewhere. But those pressures were there."
House is also happy that so many company dancers have become strong choreographers.
"It's exciting that we worked together at one point, they fed my work, and I hope in some way there are traces of something they learned from me in their work," he says.
Watching House and his dancers in rehearsal - as I have over the years - you get a sense of collaboration and shared creation. A TDT dancer doesn't just execute moves; he or she helps build the movement, so there's a sense of ownership.
Which brings us to the new work. For a few years now, House has been obsessed with particle theory, the way things interact and affect each other over distances.
"One of the themes we're dealing with is keeping room for instant response," he says. "It can't be calculated. If you think the thing before you do it, it's already over. It takes a certain sensitivity and extremely acute sense of attention. So the dancers have to be very present. They have to see the people they're dancing with and not be concerned about how their performance is going."
The work's central idea concerns dissolving. "It could be a lover or a parent or child or friend. It's about the way things dissolve in our lives over time. What seemed like the most passionately loaded moment years before, you see differently when you're older.
"I guess you need to be at least in your 50s to make a dance like this."
Additional Interview Clips
On the odd spelling of the title:
On the recent dance and reality TV show connection:
On whether the economy or war or climate change affects House's choreography: