When words are insufficient, dance steps in to move us. These pieces ranged widely, narrative or abstract, passionate or cool. A few works even looked at global tragedy, conceived long before we all experienced it.
1 PERSEPHONE'S LUNCH (Toronto Dance Theatre, November 27-December 1) A-mused by Homer's Odyssey, Christopher House created a fluid and funny -- if not entirely literary -- look at myth and temptation. The scale was epic, the design intriguing and the moves full of mystery and contemporary funk. TDT's dancers, among them Kristy Kennedy, Jessica Runge, Sean Ling and William Yong, are some of the city's strongest. Let's hope Persephone makes a return visit next season.
2 ACCELERATION (Kate Alton and Overall Dance/Volcano, September 26-October 7) True to her show's title, Alton is rapidly accelerating through the ranks of the city's most exciting dance artists/producers. Beautifully programmed, this six-work evening showed the full range and dramatic possibilities of contemporary dance. One piece, a virtuosic homage to 70s sound poetry troupe the Four Horsemen, is destined to become a classic.
3 LAMONT EARTH OBSERVATORY/MUZZ (Harbourfront Centre/DanceWorks, October 18-20) The most beguiling performance of the year came from Sarah Chase, an instinctive, open performer who offered stories about her family with every element of her being, using speech, movement and song. The results were hypnotic and completely original.
4 GRUPO CORPO (Harbourfront Centre, March 27-31) Brazil's most acclaimed dance troupe burned up the Premiere Dance Theatre with their irresistible program of colourful, kinetic, cocky struts and romps choreographed by artistic director Rodrigo Pederneiras. Nobody left the theatre without a smile. And an increased libido.
5 FOUR CHAMBERS DANCE PROJECT (Heidi Strauss, Darryl Tracy/ Dancemakers, January 16-21) Indie dance artists Strauss and Tracy commissioned duets from four of the country's most acclaimed choreographers, and the results -- beautifully danced -- ranged all over the emotional map, from Yvonne Coutts's tightly focused psychological piece to Conrad Alexandrowicz's hilarious ballet parody. Best was Sylvain Emard's lyrical, achingly gorgeous duet, which deserves a second life.
6 IMPRINTS -- KAEJA D'DANCE/ YVONNE NG (DanceWorks, April 19-21) Allen and Karen Kaeja delivered two riveting duets, one their own humorous yet poignant look at domestic life, Elements Of Touch, the other Marie-Josée Chartier's Mammalian Study, an archetypal look at power and gender that had the weight of Greek tragedy. If that wasn't enough, this year's hardest-working indie dancer, Yvonne Ng, debuted her electric solo, Garam Shift. Let's hope she gives us more choreography in 2002.
7 REVEALED BY FIRE (Harbourfront Centre/Sampradaya Dance Creations, March 8-10) Inspired by the loss of her husband and daughters in the 1985 Air India bombing disaster, choreographer Lata Pada created a multimedia work -- with photographer Cylla von Tiedemann -- examining that fateful incident. Never sentimental, the piece was cathartic and healing, an example of how Pada's art -- the 2,000-year-old Indian dance form Bharata Natyam -- helped her survive but not forget.
8 SOULS (Holly Small/Canadian Children's Dance Theatre, December 6-8) Four years in the making and with a cast of 45, this epic look at the after-effects of war shone with humanity and hope. Though not everything worked, especially in the rambling middle section, Small explored the human cost of war most powerfully through a series of duets, notably one between Robert Glumbek as an afflicted returning soldier and Lisa Otto. The conclusion was simple and utterly shattering.
9 ICELAND DANCE COMPANY (Harbourfront Centre, March 13-17) Who knew that the country that gave us Björk also harboured this impressive contemporary dance secret? The Iceland Dance Company's Canadian debut was a generous and varied calling card, offering more than two hours of spectacular images and inventive moves, all danced by a tireless and energetic 10-person ensemble.
10 MADAME BUTTERFLY (National Ballet of Canada, April 28-May 12) Australian choreographer Stanton Welch proved you can make a fine ballet (and not just an opera) from the story of the geisha and her cad of a U.S. officer boyfriend. This absorbing and psychologically complex new work showcased a bevy of rising -- and risen -- talents, including Chan Hon Goh, Geon van der Wyst, Xiao Nan Yu and conductor Ormsby Wilkins, whose orchestra has never sounded better.