Toronto Dance Theatre

February 6, 2002

Reviewed by Lewis Hertzman

What is the source of an artist’s inspiration? No doubt something deep in the psyche, combined with the mundane tasks of creation, and sheer haphazard circumstance, at least that seems to be the answer of choreographer Christopher House in his current work, Nest. About an hour, it is much longer than his usual work, highly convoluted, and ultimately an irresolvable puzzle.

House’s persona was clearly central, from initial appearance in a heavy felt suit to later emergence naked from a cocoon. It was all so studied and idiosyncratic, not to say self-indulgent, as to severely test patience.

With a large number of recruits, mostly very young, Toronto Dance Theatre has undergone a renewal. The company seemed very fresh and eager to add expression and emotion, along with color, to a piece already busy with artifacts on stage. Goldfish in plastic aquariums swam in suspension from the ceiling, while House mused in casual voice-over on the happening.

Images and movements in succession sped by in no clear order or relationship. A contortionist in red did her stuff after the voice referred to a similarly colored crane. Crane and goldfish were perhaps in some way related, but it really did not matter. The voice gave a lesson in cell biology, and referred to the life and work of artist and art theorist Joseph Beuys.

As an assemblage of choreographic miscellany, Nest gave the dancers a good workout. A few Chinese characters got painted on the back of one dancer who then danced a bare-bosom solo. A noisy sequence for the full company was just short of bizarre when a series of oven racks became a cage for a man and (stuffed) coyote.

As powerful as stream of consciousness and even some theater of the absurd can be, the present work suffered from serious lack of cohesion.