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Bill Coleman: Public Energy Artist-in-Residence, January 3-8, 2015

Bill Coleman is coming to Peterborough for a one-week ­­residency to kick off the creative process behind his newest work, titled Dollhouse. From January 3 to 7, 2015, Bill and his collaborators - sound artist Gordon Monahan, set designer David Gaucher, and lighting designer Pierre Lavoie - will be working in Peterborough on the creation of this new solo dance work. At the end of his stay in Peterborough, on January 8, Bill will perform as one half of The Brothers Plaid. 

A cataclysmic glimpse of a man out of sync with his surroundings. 

Here’s how Bill describes Dollhouse: A figure whose life is in the process of going horribly wrong. Culminating in his whole world literally falling in on him. The small object-laden room he inhabits collapses and breaks at his every touch, or seemingly moves on its own accord as he tap dances through a 50-minute theatrical disintegration, creating not only an eye-opening spectacle, but a unique musical score along the way.

A Long Time Coming: Bill’s life-long journey to Dollhouse. 

Born to parents who met on stage, Bill's first brush with professional theatre was tap dancing at the age of 15 in the pantomime Dick Whittington in Bexhill-on-Sea, England. Performing alongside aging comedians who literally reeked of Music Hall, this early experience provided Bill a glimpse of a life lived on stage. The smell of the crowd and the performers, the obsessive ad-libbing, and grease paint seemingly administered with a putty knife made a lasting impression on this aspiring dancer. Despite his best efforts...a lifetime of dancing with the likes of Martha Graham, Toronto Dance Theatre, Jean Pierre Perreault, Bill T Jones... Bill couldn't quite get rid of the rancid vaudevillian patina of this archetypal experience...the Boy Scouts' yelling 'poofta' as he clickety-clacked his way across stage, the tripping of the pantomime cow as it chased Widow Twanky through the aisles...it stayed deep within him.

Until now. Dollhouse is a salute to the theatrical world Bill's been trying to repress all these years. We've seen glimpses of it in some of his older works, such as The Brothers Plaid, Shane and Baryshnikov: The Other Story, but it was always veneered behind some fine dancing and those 'showgirl' legs of his.

So, in preparation for Dollhouse, over the last few years Bill has gone back to school, ie: learning how to tap, becoming more athletic and 'rubbery', and testing it out in performance. Most often at Grossmans Tavern with the Happy Pals jazz band, improvising and clowning in a raucous environment where getting your bottom slapped is as good as a bravo.

Confidant that he has transformed and is nearly ready for the big time (he even got a “you remind me of Ray Bolger” comment the other day!) he's coming to Peterborough! To try out some timeless gags - like getting hit on the head by a falling paint pot, courtesy of composer Gordon Monahan - and brush up on some old ones… like making the sound of cracking your partner’s neck with a hidden plastic cup crushed under the armpit.

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