Tyler Gledhill is not afraid to admit he’s an exhibitionist. Whether he’s tending bar in his skivvies at Goodhandy’s, modelling swimwear at Toronto Fashion Week or dancing in the buff with local choreographers, the Ottawa-born, Toronto-based artist is happy to show off the body it took years of relentless dance training to build.
“My friends make fun of me for it because I’m actually a bit shy when I first meet people,” laughs Gledhill, who also doubles as poster boy for the monthly Sodom dance parties. “I’m very comfortable with my body, but I also don’t agree with the use of nudity for no reason. When a choreographer asks me to appear naked on stage, they have to provide an explanation of how it will help express the vision of the piece. I won’t do it simply to turn heads, as fun as that is.”
While Gledhill’s current turn in The Chimera Project’s The Calm Before . . . will see him fully clothed, audiences will still find themselves in rapt attention. Known for her hyper-kinetic theatrical works, company head Malgorzata Nowacka takes pride in pushing dancers to their limits. The Polish-born, Toronto-based choreographer’s distinctly dark and occasionally violent aesthetic is enthralling, even for those who wouldn’t consider themselves dance fans.
Gledhill has steadily built a reputation in Toronto since he returned here in 2007, working regularly with Nowacka as well as DA Hoskins and ProArteDanza. After finishing his training at the National Ballet School, he was offered a job with Dutch company Introdans and set off to find his fortunes on the other side of the Atlantic. He continued his career with companies in Sweden as well as a handful of independent choreographers, but after six years in Europe he found he was missing the Big Smoke.
“I was starting to burn out working in a company structure, being locked into a contract and not getting to take on outside projects I was interested in,” he says. “I was living in Stockholm, where life can get a little bleak, especially in the winter when they only get a few hours of daylight. It felt like I had learned what I could and it was time to come back and establish myself here.”
“Toronto’s not for everyone, but for me it’s kind of the perfect city,” he adds. “You can do anything here and there’s never a dull moment. But it’s also very livable and easy to get by.”
The Chimera Project presents The Calm Before . . .
Harbourfront Centre, 231 Queen’s Quay W
Mon, March 19–Sat, March 24, 8pm
Sun, March 25, 2pm