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dancer, choreographer Claudia Moore

March 12, 2001

When Moore performs, her emotions are so tangibly physical you can feel them in your own body. Moore’s life work, both as a performer and choreographer, has been to explore the place where dance meets theatre.

— Rebecca Todd, eye magazine

Breathtaking … with a strong airtight artistic vision … disturbing in its unpredictability

— The Globe and Mail

Toronto based Claudia Moore began her dance training with Stella Appelbaum in Buffalo, New York. Claudia says, “I feel so good dancing – from the first ballet lesson at 11 years and now at 47 – I feel I can speak with my body and receive hours of pleasure both emotional and physical from moving my body.”

By 12, she’d become a student at the Canadian National Ballet School and performed with them in Europe and the USA from 1971-1973.

Claudia expanded her focus. She performed with The Felix Blaska Co. in Grenoble and the Contemporary Dance Theater of Montreal. She’s danced with Toronto Dance Theatre and The Desrosiers Dance Theatre. Claudia has performed the work of James Kudelka, Paul-André Fortier and Peter Chin. Movies too – yes – Claudia did L’Oiseau de Feu for CBC Montreal and Leonard Cohen’s I am a Hotel.

Eventually Claudia got a chance to put her own ideas into dance. The Toronto Dance Theatre gave her a chance to workshop her piece Crysallis. That’s how she started – and now she has more than 30 works that have been danced in Paris, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

Claudia’s inspiration came first of all from Lindsay Kemp who brought his piece Flowers to Toronto in 1978. Moore says “It was definitely theatre, but the actors were engaged in their bodies from beginning to end – and a lot of the story was told through movement.”

“I like performing, the ability to communicate with people in this way is exhilarating and somehow primal. I can express myself with my bones, muscles, skin … in connection with my brain, nerves and heart.”

Dance theatre is what Claudia does. She works with dancers, composers, musicians and designers to create a hybrid of dance, theatre, music, performance art and visual design. Claudia founded her company in 1997 and called it MOonhORsE Dance Theatre.

What will you see when you go to see her work? You’ll see Claudia’s ability to create art from the stuff of everyday human experience. She’s a sensitive commentator on the human condition, scrutinizing the layers of meaning in ordinary lives, especially women’s lives. Two of her dances are called Wombdoor and Crow Sisters.

Horse on the Moon - 1993
Looks at the life of a small town waitress with a big imagination.

Wishes – 1997
Looks at the nature of desire, of unattainable desires. Comedy, tragedy, beauty, madness Wishes is set where unusual behaviours and unpredictable actions take place. With Wishes, Claudia won the 1998 Dora Mavor Moore award for Outstanding New Choreography. “... Moore ... shows us the tip of the iceberg while hinting at the subconscious that lies deep beneath the waters,” according to Paula Citron of The Globe and Mail.

Three women - 2000
This is Claudia’s personal response to life as a woman and as a mature artist juggling life – children, marriage and creativity. Claudia based it on Sylvia Plath’s poem which she wasn’t able to get the publisher’s permission to use. So Claudia and the other two dancers collectively wrote their own lines to reflect the imagery and feeling of Plath’s poem. Darryl Jung, of Toronto’s NOW magazine wrote, “Moore’s penchant for high drama and the emotional power of the monologues more than carry the show’s intensely chilling, calculated message.” In 2000, Three women was nominated for 2 Dora awards.

Small Midnight - 2001
This work is based on the personal rituals, games and pleasures we pursue in order to carry on in our often hectic public lives. Small Midnight explores the inner worlds of four characters/two couples in a evening of whimsical behaviour and delicious encounters.

Resource for this story

  • MOonhORsE Dance Theatre newsletter - meredith@danceumbrella.net
  • “Three women break barriers in exploration of womanhood” by JANE BOW, The Examiner | February 18, 2001
  • “Reconstructing Sylvia” by REBECCA TODD, eye magazine | Jan 27, 2000
  • “Ambitious wishes compelling theatre” by PAULA CITRON, The Globe and Mail | February 13, 1998
  • “Claudia Moore makes shifts in her sensibilities” by DARYL JUNG, NOW Magazine | February 5-11, 1998

This feature was first published on section15.ca’s predecessor site CoolWomen.

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