The Arts

Severe Clear

Severe Clear featured image

Reviewed by Paula Citron

Severe Clear
Toronto Dance Theatre
Choreographed by Christopher House
Performed by the Ensemble
Fleck Dance Theatre
Nov. 17 to 20, 2010

There are some dance pieces that absolutely deserve a second coming, and Christopher House’s Severe Clear, his gorgeous tribute to the Yukon, is one of them.

This is the work’s 10th anniversary, performed by a new generation of dancers, but everything still works. Severe Clear is simply one of the greatest pieces in the Canadian contemporary dance repertoire.

House forged a combination of visual and aural delights in creating Severe Clear. When you come into the theatre, House’s voice-over is describing the various things you should do if attacked by a bear. This droll humour pervades the piece.

The choreography itself conjures up magnificent animal imagery. There are also nods to the human element, like snow shoeing, and men’s sweat lodges, and tribal ritual dance, not to mention the city disco clubs.

James Robertson’s set of plastic ice blocks and glacial sheeting is gorgeous, as are the fur and knit costumes. Severe Clear is a breath-taking paean to the Canadian north.

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