Review: Vital Signs (Winchester Street Theatre)

Be sure to experience Vital Signs, a dance performance in four parts, at the Winchester Street Theatre, Toronto to escape into an unknown world filled with breathtaking movement

Two of Toronto’s well-known contemporary dancers, Heidi Strauss and Darryl Tracy, perform to four unique dance pieces in Vital Signs at the Winchester Street Theatre last night. To be honest, I wasn’t sure of what to expect from the show but I knew of Strauss’ and Tracy’s commendable work in the city and I was curious to find out more.

What instantly caught my eye was the use of lighting, designed by Simon Rossiter, and how it was creatively integrated into the choreography to convey the concept. All four performances were very much interpretive dance pieces, but the lighting helped guide audience members to better understanding the overall concept.

The show began with Tracy’s solo. He danced effortlessly moving with the lights and creating shadows from a doorway. There was a mystery behind the door where Tracy would walk in and out making us wonder what exactly was going on behind that door. Was there someone there or was it just his own shadows?

The performances continued with a compelling duet piece between Strauss and Tracy. Their fluid movements and expressions were engaging and admittedly, this was my favourite piece of all four pieces. Choreographed by Yvonne Coutts, the remounted dance piece called ‘The Browns’ gave great insight to what a relationship between two people entails. This piece was about two people who initially struggled to connect with one another and themselves. They fought, they struggled, they had passion, they parted ways and then right at the end, they came together holding hands. The dancing and partnering work was beautifully executed. It was raw, authentic and the emotions were definitely felt.

Strauss’s solo performance integrated interesting technology, lighting and spoken word. It is hard not to take your eyes off her as she moved from one end of the stage to the other. Her beautiful extensions, use of breath and quiet pauses make her a magnetic performer to watch. There was a maturity about Strauss and Tracy’s performances which was refreshing to see. If you enjoy a diverse selection of contemporary dances and are looking to escape into an unknown world filled with intriguing movement, then be sure to experience Vital Signs at the Winchester Street Theatre.


  • Vital Signs is performed at the Winchester Street Theatre (80 Winchester Street, Toronto)
  • Performances run from September 11-14 at 8 pm
  • Tickets are $25 (Adult-Regular) and $20 (Students/Senior/CADA)
  • Tickets can be purchased via Facebook or EventBrite or by calling 416-323-1715 for reservations/information.

Photo of Heidi Strauss and Darryl Tracy by Jeremy Mimnagh during the  dance ‘The Browns’ choreographed by Yvonne Coutts.