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Sunday, November 30, 2008

In his house of dance

'Step back and shake it up': The motto animates Christopher House's career with Toronto Dance Theatre

Getting together with Christopher House is an interviewer's dream. The artistic director of Toronto Dance Theatre is always articulate, candid and provocative. Our conversation this time centres on his musings about his 30 years with the company and his new full-length work Dis/(sol/ve)r which premieres tomorrow. And House does not disappoint. He looks at the good, the bad and the ugly of his career with remarkable objectivity.

House was a choreographic wunderkind of dance which is surprising because he came to the art form later than most. Born in St. John's, Nfld., he was studying political science at the University of Ottawa when he fell in love with dance through Ottawa dance teacher Elizabeth Langley's movement classes.

Langley continues to be an influence. "She always has a question that she's grappling with," he says. "This means constantly setting challenges for yourself. There must be the feeling that there is something more. Step back and shake it up! That's my motto." House graduated from York University in 1979 with a BFA in dance. His first professional gig was performing in a revival of David Earle's Atlantis in 1978. He joined TDT (which was founded in 1968) and by 1981, was appointed resident choreographer. The supremely gifted House was the obvious heir apparent to TDT co-founders Earle, Patricia Beatty and Peter Randazzo, and assumed the artistic directorship in 1994. "I had no idea that my entire professional life would be with one company," he says.

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