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Toronto Dance Theatre.

PREMIERE DANCE THEATRE, TORONTO DECEMBER 2-13, 1997 REVIEWED BY LEWIS HERTZMAN

About to embark on an extensive Asian tour, Toronto Dance Theatre colored both of its home programs with touches of Eastern exoticism, commissions to mark Canada's Year of Asia Pacific. Still, six of eight compositions were by artistic director Christopher House.

The most interesting and most polished piece of the season, though relatively brief, was Chandralekha's Namaskar, created by the Indian choreographer for the company. Elements of bharata natyam style blended with postures from martial arts and yoga. Gorgeous to behold, the dancers moved from contemplation to action in swift, highly controlled, and stylized patterns.

Less successful was House's Bottari, set to the ultimately annoying nonsense dialogue of composer Kung Chi Shing's Bach's Empty Words. The bright textile patterns of the bottari (Korean bedclothes wrapped in bundles) provided more interest than did the trivial theme of clothes and the human body, especially with an ending that placed a naked couple downstage center--momentarily startling perhaps, but no big deal.

The company's first program, which included Bottari, dragged despite the bit of froth supplied by Pingo Slink. Its cheerful patterns were quickly stifled by the static solemnity of Colder Ink, for four dancers, described dryly in a note as "pure movement invention" concerned with "texture, lines, and counterpoint." Things picked up somewhat with Artemis Madrigals, another movement invention, a close interpretation of Stravinsky's Duo Concertant.

TDT looked much better in its second program the following week. Besides the richness of the Indian work, there was a lively revival of James Kudelka's Fifteen Heterosexual Duets, along with two well-crafted pieces by House.

Fifteen Heterosexual Duets advanced relentlessly through Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata with endless lifts and off-center, non-balletic movement, not unlike contact improvisation. There was much acrobatic delight, a touch of humor here and there, but precious little sexuality, hetero or other.

With Cryptoversa House created a sizzling solo dance for Laurence Lemieux, which she interpreted with strength and impressive integrity. She moved in sinuous twirls from ground to air and back, in sync with Robert Moran's Thirty-two Cryptograms for Derek Jarman. The work was intense and commanded full attention.

Barnyard come as a timely emotional release to finish the season, set to a collage of popular tunes by Jimmy Dorsey and others. It was a clever sendup on friendships and partnerships, casual and flirtatious, in all imaginable combinations.
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Title Annotation:Premiere Dance Theatre, Toronto, Canada
Author:Hertzman, Lewis
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Dance Review
Date:Apr 1, 1998
Words:396
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