Canadian choreographer Christopher House returns to York

The internationally renowned Toronto Dance Theatre, under the artistic direction of York University alumnus Christopher House (BFA ’79), is coming to York University, from Jan. 14 to 17, for an academic residency. Over a period of four days, House and the TDT dancers will deliver daily lessons to students enrolled in York’s Dance Program. They’ll also present a series of special performances, a film screening and a lecture. 

The residency will culminate with a public performance of the TDT’s critically-acclaimed Timecode Break on Thursday, Jan. 17, at 8pm, in the Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan Theatre in the Accolade East Building on York’s Keele campus. Admission is $35, or $19 for students. For tickets call the York Box Office at ext. 55888 or visit

A quintessential dance for the 21st century, Timecode Break is choreographed simultaneously for stage and screen. It integrates razor-sharp dancing with poweful  video images to create a brave new kinetic landscape. Dancing in partnership with their digital selves in a seamless choreography of control and abandon, the TDT dancers are pushed to their edge, performing in lightning-fast unison, fierce counterpoint and powerful solos. The limits of physical virtuosity are framed by the infinite potential of the digital body.

Above: Toronto Dance Theatre company members perform Timecode Break, choreographed by Christopher House. Photo by Aaron McKenzie Fraser.

After its world premiere at the Canada Dance Festival in 2006, Paula Citron of The Globe and Mail hailed Timecode Break as "among the greatest dances ever created in Canada… a work of such brilliance that it is ahead of the curve." The piece topped four critics’ Top Ten lists in 2006, including being named "best new contemporary dance" by The Toronto Star. It won three Dora Mavor Moore Awards in 2007, including Outstanding Production and Outstanding Choreography.

Timecode Break is a commission from the Canada Dance Festival and a co-production with Ottawa’s National Arts Centre and the Banff Centre for the Arts. After the performance at York, Timecode Break goes on to New York City, a tour of western Canada and then heads to London’s Royal Opera House.

During their residency, House and TDT dancers will present four additional special events that are also open to the public: a screening of the Christopher House biopic Ahead of the Curve on Jan. 14; his solo dance performance News, choreographed by Deborah Hay, on Jan. 15; Chiasmata, House’s latest creation for the company on Jan. 16; and an illustrated talk titled, "The Making of Timecode Break" on Jan. 17. Each of these free events take place at noon in the McLean Performance Studio, room 244 in the Accolade East Building.

Right: Christopher House

Chiasmata, House’s most recent choreography, ranges in tone from playful to percussive to vulnerable. The work uses a new creative process for House and his dancers and explores uncharted emotional and physical territory. This new methodology has created movement that is both idiosyncratic and very personal to the performers, while at the same time, is beautifully shaped and crafted. Chiasmata was nominated for a 2007 Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Choreography.

News is a solo set on House by renowned experimental dance artist Deborah Hay. The piece was choreographed by Hay and adapted for House during his participation in Hay’s Solo Performance Commissioning Project, an international creation residency in Findhorn, Scotland. News premiered in December 2006 at Toronto’s Winchester Street Theatre.

Christopher House: Ahead of the Curve is a film about process, and the energy and mystique of dance. Commissioned by Bravo! Television and directed by House’s sister Rosemary House, this intimate exploration of the art of choreography reveals the detailed processes House brings to his work and his enduring search for knowledge and inspiration. "If you’ve ever wondered about the point of modern dance, the answer is here," said John Doyle of The Globe and Mail.

"The Making of Timecode Break" is a lecture-demonstration led by House and includes DVD projection.

"We’re delighted to welcome Christopher House back to York together with his company," said Dance Department Chair Mary Jane Warner. "This residency offers a wonderful opportunity for our students to work with the outstanding artists in TDT, and to observe them both in classes and rehearsal settings. We hope this will be the beginning of a long-term relationship between TDT and the Department of Dance at York."

House is one of Canada’s most respected choreographers. The artistic director of the Toronto Dance Theatre since 1994, he has transformed TDT into a company known internationally for its fresh, intelligent and provocative dance. Joining TDT as a dancer in 1979, House became resident choreographer in 1981 and has contributed over 50 works to the repertoire, including Glass Houses, Four Towers, Early Departures, Vena Cava, Nest, Persephone’s Lunch and Sly Verb. His most recent works include Chiasmata and Timecode Break for TDT and In the Boneyard, his second evening-length collaboration with Toronto indie-rock sensation Joel Gibb and The Hidden Cameras.

York’s dance department has been the seedbed for a generation of outstanding Canadian dance artists. Graduates include Debra Brown, choreographer of nine Cirque du Soleil productions; Patrick Parson, founding artistic director of Ballet Creole; Denise Fujiwara, artistic director of Canasian Dance Festival; Karen Kaeja of Kaeja d’Dance; and leading independent dancers and choreographers Shannon Cooney, Santee Smith, Andrea Nann, Yvonne Ng and Lata Pada.