Stage Door News

Toronto: Toronto Dance Theatre announces its 2019/20 season and Christopher House’s stepping down as A.D.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

With the 2018.2019 season now concluded with the remount of Christopher House and Jordan Tannahill’s acclaimed Marienbad, it is with a mixture of great enthusiasm, appreciation, and sadness that Toronto Dance Theatre (TDT) today unveils programming for the 2019.2020 season while announcing that after 25 incredible years, 2019.2020 will be Christopher House’s last season as Artistic Director.

It has been a privilege to lead this company for twenty-six seasons and to have danced and choreographed here for more than forty years,” says House.  I have had the good fortune of being surrounded by generous and hugely talented individuals both on and off the stage throughout my tenure; their support for my vision has been a constant source of energy and inspiration and I am proud of what we have accomplished together. As I move on to new challenges and adventures, I am deeply grateful for the opportunities and unforgettable experiences that my time here has provided, and excited to see what new paths Toronto Dance Theatre will travel in the future as one of Canada’s leading arts organizations.”

TDT’s Board Chair Charles Pavia adds “Toronto Dance Theatre has been truly blessed to have had Christopher House's creative ideas and choreographic vision leading the company for over twenty-five years. Starting as a member of the company forty years ago, Christopher has been a dancer, a choreographer, a leader, a mentor and artistic director. He has at once been the face of the company and the man behind the curtain. He has left his mark on a generation of dancers across Canada and throughout the international dance community.”

"I am very much looking forward to this new season, my last as Artistic Director of TDT,” says House. “I am a huge admirer of Ame Henderson and her work– she has made a major contribution to the creative life of TDT over the last five years and I am thrilled that she has agreed to create a new project for us. House Mix at the Fleck Dance Theatre will be a farewell program of sorts, including some of my favourite works that we have recently been touring. I have followed the delightful creations of Alyssa Martin for several years now and am very happy to be commissioning her first work for TDT. And finally, ending the season with I’ll Crane For You is a chance for me to go deeper into Deborah Hay’s remarkable world, and depart TDT as I arrived– as a dancer." 

The 2019.2020 season begins in November with a bold new experimental work by esteemed performance-maker Ame Henderson, and continues with House’s final main-stage program as Artistic Director – House Mix, a selection of classic House works that recently toured across Canada and to Colombia including his pure-movement work Vena Cava, the ominous Echo Dark and the athletic Martingales. The program also includes the delightful 6 People Doing 6 Poses From 6 Photos To Music by guest choreographer Tedd Robinson.

In her first commission for TDT, Alyssa Martin - one of Toronto’s most promising young choreographers - will bring her clever vision to a new full-length work called Bin Chicken, inspired by Australia’s answer to raccoons – the garbage gobbling White Ibis. TDT will finish the season with I’ll Crane for You, an extraordinary solo work by Deborah Hay. Named one of the top five dance works of 2015 by the Globe and Mail, I’ll Crane for Youis adapted and performed by Christopher House with humour, spirit and his signature grace.

In additional programming news, TDT will also participate in Fall for Dance North’s (FFDN) 5th annual international dance festival on October 2 and 3, 2019 at Meridian Hall (formerly the Sony Centre), performing Hanna Kiel’s kinetic tour-de-force GH 5.0, which originally premiered in TDT’s 50th anniversary production Glass Fields (2018). Featuring live music composed by Greg Harrison for this special FFDN presentation, GH 5.0 is a complex, energetic work created in response to Christopher House’s Glass Houses (1983).

As well, TDT will host their biennial Emerging Voices Project in December 2019 where nine emerging choreographers will join mentors Ame Henderson and Christopher House, rehearsal director Rosemary James, and TDT’s company dancers for an intensive two-week choreographic residency.

Born and raised in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Christopher House has been Artistic Director of Toronto Dance Theatre since 1994. Having first danced with the company in 1978, he has contributed over sixty works to the TDT repertoire including Glass Houses(1983), Early Departures (1992), Vena Cava (1998), Severe Clear (2000), Martingales (2014) and Persefony Songs (2019).

Known for his cross-disciplinary collaborations with visual artists, directors, filmmakers, performance artists and composers, House’s impact on Canada’s cultural landscape has been immeasurable. As dance critic Kathleen Smith wrote in TDT’s 2017.2018 program, “TDT began as an ad hoc troupe with roots in American modern dance; under House’s directorship, it has become a fully contemporary company, a movement think tank in dialogue with many creative communities, embracing risk in a way that reflects Christopher’s own attitudes towards art.” Other highlights of his tenure include TDT performing as part of the opening ceremonies for the Pan Am Games in 2015 and the creation of TDT’s multi-year “Reimagining Repertoire” initiative, which sees the company revisiting works in light of new dancers, new audiences, and new cultural and societal contexts. 

In his extensive career, Christopher House has received many awards and honours for his work including three Dora Mavor Moore Awards, the Muriel Sherrin Award for International Achievement in Dance, the Silver Ticket Award from the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, and an Honorary Doctorate from Memorial University of Newfoundland. In 2017, House was inducted into the Order of Canada.

In the coming months, the TDT Board will announce details of the search process for House’s successor.

The Toronto Dance Theatre (TDT) 2019.2020 Season
A new work by Ame Henderson
November 14 - 23, 2019
Winchester Street Theatre
Ame Henderson is an explorer, an esteemed performance-maker known internationally for her uncompromising choreographic investigations. Following on her previous experimental works for TDT, Henderson/Castle; voyager (2014) and Noisy (2017), she returns with a new production.
This new work will continue Henderson’s fascinating research into the relationship between utterance and movement, asking the ensemble of dancers to practice rigorous collective listening as they manifest an ever-emerging choreographic whorl. They insist on being here, as here transforms. This work is a bold artistic proposition in which no two performances will be the same.
February 11 - 15, 2020
Fleck Dance Theatre
In Christopher House's final main-stage program as Artistic Director, TDT returns to the Fleck Dance Theatre with House Mix, a selection of classic House works that recently toured across Canada and to Colombia. Created over more than twenty-five years, these works show how House's choreographic interests have changed over the years, and also how his approach to performance has shifted. Ranging from his complex pure-movement works like Vena Cava to the ominous use of time in Echo Dark to the thrilling athletic risks of Martingales, the program is performed by a company of twelve dancers who are expert interpreters of House's work.
With lighting by Simon Rossiter and music by Thom Gill, Robert Moran, Charles Quevillon and others, and rehearsal direction by Rosemary James.
The program also features the remount of guest choreographer Tedd Robinson's 6 People Doing 6 Poses From 6 Photos To Music, created for TDT's Glass Fields program.
By Alyssa Martin
March 26 - April 4, 2020
Winchester Street Theatre
Alyssa Martin is one of Toronto’s most promising young choreographers, recognized both for her comedic approach and for her burgeoning skills as a director. In this first commission for TDT, Martin brings her clever vision to a new full-length work, Bin Chicken.
Inspired by her recent time in Sydney, Australia, when she became fascinated with a gaggle of delicate white birds known as “bin chickens” due to their voracious appetite for trash, her zany new work looks at the parallels between the lives of these much-maligned birds and the behaviour of the rest of us. The score includes Beethoven's celebrated Sonata No. 29 (Hammerklavier) played live at each performance. This energetic new production promises to reveal a completely new side of TDT's dancers!
This production is generously supported by Ann H. Atkinson.
Performed by Christopher House
May 20 - 23, 2020
Winchester Street Theatre
Chosen by the Globe and Mail as one of the top five dance works of 2015, I'll Crane for You returns to the Winchester Street Theatre for four performances to finish off TDT’s 2019.2020 Season. An extraordinary solo work by post-modern iconoclast Deborah Hay, I'll Crane For You is adapted and performed by Christopher House with humour, spirit and his signature grace. With lighting by Simon Rossiter and costumes and décor by Cheryl Lalonde.
House's adaptation, created with coaching by Deborah Hay, is based on several months of daily practice with Hay's written score and her unique question-based performance methodology.
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Photo: Christopher House.