It’s taken a long time coming, but Christopher House has finally come full circle. This month, the longtime artistic director of Toronto Dance Theatre returns to his roots and takes to the stage in I’ll Crane for You, a solo performance choreographed by Deborah Hay that blends text and song with movement.
House started as a dancer with Toronto Dance Theatre in 1978, began choreographing in 1979 and took the reins in 1994. As his focus shifted to creating, he gradually gave up performing. “I had never really planned to stop dancing, but once I became the director I felt weird hogging stage time when there were so many amazing dancers in the company,” he says. “To be honest, performing was always a bit stressful for me, so it wasn’t tough to let it slip away.”
His journey back to performing started in 2006 when he danced in Hay’s News, At Once and The Body in Question in Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver and London, England. In 2014 he appeared alongside the rest of the company in Ame Henderson and Jennifer Castle’s Voyager, then in the solo Rough House, co-created with Jordan Tannahill.
Though he’s been mostly absent from the stage, he’s hardly been sedentary. He still teaches regularly, does Pilates and rides his bike nearly everywhere, maintaining a physique men half his age would envy. Back on the floor with his characteristic optimism in tow, he sees more possibilities than limits for his 59-year-old frame.
“There are lots of things I can’t do as well as I could when I was young, but there are an equal number of things I can do now that I couldn’t do then,” he says. “My body is more articulate, more conscious and more sensitive than it used to be. It’s a crazy game, but I have nothing to lose, so I’m seizing the day.”