CHIASMATA choreography by Christopher House (Toronto Dance Theatre). At the Premiere Dance Theatre (207 Queens Quay West). March 27-31. $15-$38. 416-973-4000. Rating: NNNNN
After his monolithic and widely acclaimed last piece, Timecode Break, Toronto Dance Theatre choreographer Christopher House is ready to let his dancers loose. Literally.
"Timecode Break was so much about unison, it was so technical," says House. "The dancers really had to submit to a machine. Chiasmata is almost the flip side of that."
For the work, getting its world premiere Tuesday, House created much of the movement through improvisation. The company drew on what they learned from Stephanie Skura's intensive Skinner Release improv sessions last fall.
"I would improvise in front of the dancers, the dancers would choose phrases from what I was doing, they'd suggest and perform other things to me, I'd video tape the material, edit it and then give it back to the dancers," says House. "Sometimes we'd do up to four back-and-forth versions for a single piece of movement."
This process might sound chaotic, but House says it's helped connect the dancers to the material. Some dancers even get to take on the responsibility for certain sections.
"There's a communal pool of ownership," says House. "If we're wondering, 'What was that thing?' we'll know, for instance, that it's in Valerie (Calam's) department. And Valerie gets to explain to us what was going on."
The result, he says, allows the dancers to dig deep into the piece's ideas.
"We might eventually throw away a bit of movement, but the dancers have learned about the world we were creating from all that," he says.
This is House's fourth year of working with the video editing package Final Cut, which he initially used to begin making dance videos and films.
"My dad joked that I'm going to end up like Glenn Gould," he laughs. "Sometimes I'm up until 2 in the morning working on it. But the possibilities are infinite. What's great is that in the same way that serendipity occurs in the dance studio, it occurs with video, too.
"You get these 'That's not what I meant to do, but, hey, this looks really cool!' moments."
Additional Interview Audio Clips
On seeing the recent William Forsythe show in Ottawa