Artist Spotlight: Christopher House



Born and raised in St. John’s, NL, Christopher House is a choreographer, performer, and teacher. He will be premiering his work “New Tricks” on the Citadel + Compagnie stage in Toronto this month, and will be coming to St. John’s to work with Artistic Fraud in the coming months!


1. Is there a piece of art you are drawing from/inspired by?

I get a lot of inspiration from film, visual art and literature. Currently I’ve been thinking a lot about the iterative gestures of Alberto Giacometti as showcased in the classic text by James Lord.


2. What have been your biggest challenges and inspirations creating during the past 2 years?

I have found many sources of inspiration during the last two years as a result of having more time for contemplation and physical and intellectual research. I’ve been lucky to have been able to do residencies at Gibraltar Pt , the Citadel in Toronto and at the Banff Centre.


My biggest challenge has been the closure of theatres and rehearsal spaces during the several ‘lockdowns’, and the frustration that has resulted from postponed and cancelled work.


3. Has the experience from the past 2 years created new patterns in your life, new routines? If so, what are they?

As with many of my friends and colleagues, I feel like I have been able to zero in on what is most important to me in life, love and work.


Although I’m attracted to the live aspects of dancing, I’ve adjusted my approach in teaching creative process to allow for some very exciting and satisfying digital workshops with artists from around the world.


I’ve also developed a daily mediation practice, have been spending more time outside and have ramped up my cooking skills!


4. What are some comfort foods that have soothed your soul during the pandemic?

Food has been at the centre of so much of the last two years. Baking is a new skill for me and I seem to have developed a serious scone addiction. But the biggest pleasure has been in learning to make a half decent Spaghettil Cacio e Pepe thanks to a microplane and a good cheese shop around the corner from my place.


Cacio e pepe


4 tablespoons (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, to taste

Kosher salt, to taste

1/2 pound (225g) spaghetti

2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter

2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese (about 1 cup; 55g), very finely grated on a microplane or the smallest holes of a box grater, plus more for serving


Directions


Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil and about a teaspoon of black pepper in a medium skillet over medium-low heat until ingredients are fragrant and pepper is barely starting to sizzle, about 1 minute. Set aside.


Place spaghetti in a large skillet and cover with water. Season with a small pinch of salt, then bring to a boil over high heat, prodding spaghetti occasionally with a fork or wooden spoon to prevent it from clumping. Cook until spaghetti is al dente (typically about 1 minute less than the package recommends). Transfer 2 to 3 tablespoons of pasta cooking water to the skillet with the olive oil/pepper mixture. Stir in butter. Using tongs, lift spaghetti and transfer it to the oil/butter mixture.


Add cheese and remaining tablespoon olive oil to the skillet and stir with a fork until cheese is completely melted. Add a few more tablespoons of pasta water to the skillet to adjust consistency, reheating as necessary until the sauce is creamy and coats each strand of spaghetti. Season to taste with salt and more black pepper. Serve immediately, passing extra grated cheese and black pepper at the table.


5. What are you looking forward to? Dream projects, projects in the making, a good soup tonight, warmer weather?

Good question!! I premiere New Tricks on Mar 24 in Toronto. I’m working on a wonderful project with Artistic Fraud in St. John’s. I’m in discussions to curate a thematic dance exhibit. I’m teaching creative practice in various places. And I’m working on a new duet with a colleague in Rome.


Check out our other Artist Spotlights here