Bill Coleman, Toronto dancer and choreographer

Image: Bill Coleman | Photo: Coleman Lemieux

 Bill Coleman is a choreographer and performer. His choreographic work has been presented at the Tramway in Glasgow, New York’s Dance Theatre Workshop, Place Des Arts, Montreal, Alexandrinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, Russia and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Bill collaborated with the legendary jazz band the Sun Ra Arkestra to create Hymn To The Universe in 2008, and is featured in OutSideIn, a 40-minute 3D film that premiered at the 2015 Venice Biennale.


Coleman’s work has transcended traditional theatrical settings to include mountain tops, rainforests, prairies and urban construction sites. He has created a bold collection of large-scale, site-specific works, collaborating with diverse groups including WWII veterans, Aboriginal communities, fishing villages, ranching towns and urban neighbourhoods. He uses dance as a means to unite communities within their natural environment and past locations include Banff, Gros Morne and Grassland National Parks, the steppes of western Mongolia, Long Plain First Nation Pow Wow in Manitoba, the Great Bear Rainforest in BC and Toronto’s Regent Park neighbourhood.

Coleman uses a unique methodology of movement he has developed through his life as a dancer. It involves accessing an embodied cognitive state to explore movement, and as an approach to technical practice as well as performance. The aim is a heightened awareness of the senses that induces both physical control and involuntary movement, allowing participants to access new territories of physical experience and exploration. Coleman currently uses this technique in all his dance practice as well as in local kindergarten classes, open adult workshops, collaborations with organizations such as National Parks Canada and Toronto Community Housing and as a point of departure for research in collaboration with the Department of Cognitive Science at McMaster University.


Coleman was nominated for the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Zorro; he received the Jerome Foundation’s First Light Award in New York for Baryshnikov: The Other Story and, in 2002, he received the Canada Council Jacqueline-Lemieux Prize.


“Coleman’s presence is pan-Canadian and international. His work as a creator stems from a deep place within himself. He is a visionary, a humanitarian, whose work shows uncompromising originality and immense vision.”


He has been teaching creativity and movement for over 25 years, most recently at Nipissing First Nation, Ontario; Environmental Arts Festival, Scotland; Prostur Plus, Croatia; Centre For Indigenous Theatre, Toronto; New Dance Horizons, Regina, as well as at the University of Archangelsk in Russia, Concordia University, L’École de danse de Québec, School of Toronto Dance Theatre, Alberta University, Victoria University, University of Toronto and the University of Regina.


In 2016, his new work Dollhouse, a collaboration with composer Gordon Monahan, is being presented as part of Toronto’s Canadian Stage 2016/17 season, and The Dancebelt: A Brief History of the Performing Arts is being revived for That’s Not Funny, concert with Toronto’s Art Of Time Ensemble. In upcoming projects, Bill is creating a solo on dancer Chrysa Parkinson, and presenting Ectoplasmotion, a new work in collaboration with Carol Prieur, Won Meyeong Won, Benoit Lachambre and Ann Trepanier.