what the critics say


“Walking into Old Stories (by Maxine Heppner) is walking into another dimension. Dancer Takako is flawless." (in Moments in Time)”

Brittany Duggan

The Dance Current, 2015

“Reaching a new state of mind”

“Exposes the very heart of the human condition” 
(for Moments in Time)


Paula Citron

Globe and Mail & Toronto, and Classical 96.3 FM Canada, 2008

My Heart Is A Spoon… a tremendous show”

Samantha Wu

Mooney on Theatre, Toronto 2012

“The theatrical environment is surreal, flooded with visions of fantasy, memory, fear and longing.”

Sarah Hampson

Globe and Mail, Toronto 2012 

KRIMA! Simple in their power… A coup!”

John Kaplan

Now Magazine Toronto March 2009

“Wow…dance that springs from inspiration of brain and nerve impulse is just exactly ‘natural dance and media’ !!! This message gets through to audience, very good and very clear !”


Japan, Tokyo 2006

“The performance was an inspiring, unsettling, beautiful, and haunting series”.

Cate Gable

Mindjack: the beat of digital culture, San Francisco, Jan. 2001

“Heppner is an intelligent dancesmith who layers her pieces with subtle details. The world she inhabits on stage is made up of elements borrowed from different media. Visually arresting, the work gently tweaks the senses, sometimes inspiring a dream state. Meaning is never concrete. This is dance that wants experiencing.”

Dierdre Kelly

Globe and Mail, Canada, June 1999

“As I watched, her work became an allegory about human survival.”

Xinna Tan

Singapore Inkpot, Dec 1999

"In Heppner’s Nine Bronze Pieces, the instruments interface with the dancers in delicate symbiosis. The score, composed by Mark Duggan, consists of nine different instrumental combinations, each one inspiring a separate dance idiom. Through a series of solos, duets and trios, the three dancers echo the various subtle shifts of sound performed by Evergreen’s eight musicians as if each note were travelling directly through their bodies. Heppner is a very precise choreographer. Thus, when a dancer moves a hand, it is in response to, or initiating, a musical element. Watching the work was like seeing with the ears and hearing with the eyes. Whether the dancers were standing in one place moving the body in gentle undulations, or leaping and turning about the stage, the dance and music was in total integration.

North of Java is a more dramatic piece for six dancers. The music (Andrew Timar) is a combination of taped nature sounds and live instrumentation, with the dancers confined to a small square of light as if we are focusing in on a one-minute microcosm of the jungle. What is remarkable is how Heppner manages to express so much physicality in such a small space. Sometimes, the dancers are in forceful synchronization, at others, they fall away into small or single groupings to portray arresting images of insect and animal life, or dense vines and tangled vegetation. One wonderful picture has the six leaning into each other like a giant worm. Another presents startled birds created by clever lifts. The piece works because of Heppner’s precision timing and her clean, clear articulation of movement.”

Paula Citron

Globe and Mail, Toronto, 2003

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Maxine Heppner's "ability to metamorphose attracts, fascinates, amuses and moves. Young and old, pretty and ugly, rejoicing, rebelling and despairing, she is deeply penetrating.”

Glos Pomorza

Poland, 1995

“a breath of fresh air”

Tempo magazine

Indonesia, 1991

“Half literal, half allegorical, but always poetic… a treat to watch the various permutations on the subject of Steel, concrete or not. The imagination was captured, the senses teased; the world seemed another place.”

Sherri Lee

The Flying Inkpot, Singapore, January 1999

"Snow was wonderful, quirky, so bizaaringly moving. There was also a brief moment when Heppner looked like this Japanese cartoon character I use to read as a kid!! "

Yvonne Ng

Princess Productions, Toronto, May 2002

“Always looking for a way to break down the fourth wall, the choreographer/performer cruises among the audience in a gold brocaded suit during a break between dances. Then she sheds suit and high heels and, in utilitarian undergarments, joins clarinetist Robert Stevenson on stage…. The self-denying approach to divinity is represented in her simple maneuvers on stage. While in the aesthetic camp…there’s an atmosphere of Versailles as the dancers per form in concentric circles…attention falls on Runge, who brings to the floor such graceful expression of the sentiments at hand that beauty needs no further definition.”

Susan Walker

Toronto Star, Canada, June 1999

“Heppner can really evoke images. This very very fine choreographer takes risks and she goes for it.”

Paula Citron

Classical 96.3FM, Toronto, Canada, 1997

“powerful, spirited”

Dancing on the Edge Festival

Vancouver, Canada,1998

“une performance pleine de charme et de nostalgie avec My past follows like a dragon’s tail. Une scène epurée où sont suspendues un douzaine d’ampoules accueillé une chorégraphie tantôt théatrale – une théatralité où l’on peut lire, en filigrante, les origines de l’interprête – tantôt energique et dense.”

Andree Martin

Ottawa Citizen, Canada, June 1998

“As I watched… I found myself feeling as I have at moments in a church attending a high mass in Latin: knowing that there was power and depth and grace before me and all around me – even if I didn’t know the language. It has been a wait of years now to get to see Heppner perform – and well worth that wait it was!”


Ascribe Newswire, San Francisco, January 2001

“An audacious choreographer”

Classical 96.3 FM

Toronto, Canada, 2009

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Moments in Time

Toronto "Dora Mavor Moore Theatre Awards" Nomination

for best performance 2015

“The very heart of the human condition”

2008, Classical 96.3 FM

“Reaching a new state of mind”

Globe and Mail, Toronto

Globe and Mail
Paula Citron

Moments in Time is a fitting name for the collaboration between choreographer Maxine Heppner and dancer Takako Segawa for more reasons than one: The veteran artists have been building the full-length work over five years and together they have produced a satisfying, thoughtful episodic work.

The piece is made up of 14 solos, each intriguingly named after a person and a state of mind. For example, the beginning solo is Jess’s serenity followed by Susi’s inspiration and Tina’s compassion.

The work can be viewed as specific snapshots from these various people’s lives, or collectively the solos may reflect the totality of a single life with its shifting emotional moods. In the latter case, the names, perhaps, become the people who have generated the response in the protagonist. Heppner as a choreographer is fascinated by both the whole physical cloth of dance as well as small details. The 14 solos range from Segawa executing highly energetic athleticism to almost slow-motion minimalism. The audience is kept abreast of the names of each solo by surtitles, which informs how we view the dance itself.There is also a parade of slides that splash over Segawa containing patterns of oriental carpets that also dictate mood.

Clearly, Heppner wants to direct us in our focus.Segawa is a compelling performer. She has a compact body that couples easy physicality with natural grace, but she can also play with gravity – at one point, she’s as light as a feather; at another, she’s weighted down by the pull of the Earth itself. Her subtle facial expressions play an important role in the piece. With just the hint of a smile, or a wider opening of the eyes, she can convey an intriguing shift in her interior monologue. As wonderful a dancer as Segawa is, she did at times overbalance and lose some of the crispness of her attack, particularly in changes between movement patterns, but this made her all the more human. Music also plays a key role in the performance. The compilation score includes early music, folk-inspired world beat, flamenco guitar, Indonesian gongs and abstract electronica. Silence as a backdrop is also used.Segawa also changes costume either by donning a whole new set of clothes, or by rolling up pant legs or taking off layers of tops. Thus each solo preserves its own individual integrity through movement, music (or lack thereof) and visual attributes.The solos each have their own movement leitmotifs. For example, Chin’s burden is executed with arms tightly folded across the chest and almost slow-motion physicality. In Galih’s present, Segawa loosens her body to embody a gangling teenager. Here the choreography is all about stamping of feet interpolated by fast and furious swivels. Sue’s desire is manifested by sensuous writhing on the floor, the legs slicing in scissor cuts.


Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the work is that Heppner plays with her own choreographic signatures, those telltale repeating physicalities that hallmark a creator. They are the movement themes, but they are also the variations. The great swoop of arms, the high kick of one leg, the bent body turns, for example, are always present, but are assembled differently in each solo.

It is as if Heppner is deliberately saying, “Here I am as a choreographic writer and this is my vocabulary.”

Classical 96.3 FM

Across Oceans – Maxine Heppner’s Moments in Time

Choreographer Maxine Heppner and dancer Takako Segawa presented their thoughtful piece Moments in Time at the Pia Bouman Studio Theatre over the weekend. Two veteran dance artists collaborating together can produce very satisfying work. Heppner is an accomplished choreographer and Segawa is a compelling performer. Segawa’s subtle facial expressions played an important role in the piece. With just the hint of a smile, or a wider opening of the eyes, she could convey an intriguing shift in Heppner’s dance monologue.


Together, Heppner and Sagawa created a well-thought out dance piece that exposes the very heart of the human condition.

Sensational “Moments in Time”

Your sensational “Moments in Time” work resonated in me… images surfaced unbidden throughout the following week, and even now I conjure up memories of “characters” and feel moved. I liked the projection of women’s feelings, as we are more intense, I think, than is often projected or communicated. I rarely have such a response to performances although if I were wealthy I would like to be a patron!I hope that this work can be shown for larger audiences in the future or for more audiences and would not be surprised if “it has a life of its own”. Hurrah for you both! and warm congratulations on your enduring art.

Fran Khanna
Gestalt Institute, PhD-OISE

Moments in Time

I have watched a lot of dance over the years and was blown away by the exquisite performance. The work became translucent through Takako. Maxine and Takako are an unbeatable team. I wish my words could express as much as your performance did. I want to see more!

Lois Van Koghnet
Theatre Designer




In Toronto’s Top Ten Dance Shows of 2009 !!!

Now Magazine

“intimate and large scale…simple in its power…A Coups ! ”

2009, Now Magazine

“an audacious choreographer… nurture and survival… headlines writ large. ”

Classical 96.3fm


“I didn’t think it was going to be so fun!”

dancer Andrea Nann

Sun Feb 9


dancer Sasha Ivanochko

on Friday Feb 13

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“How can we sit by while tragedies are happening all the time? Maxine Heppner’s massively scaled project challenged our complacency and swept us up in a sea of 100 dancers, who crowded the Young Centre lobby in a series of powerful vignettes, some suggesting a Noah’s ark of survival and dignity.”

Glenn Sumi

NOW Magazine

“if I sing it again I will laugh …or cry”

unidentified voice

on Saturday Feb 14

“fabulous…what made you think of this?”


interview, Sunday on Feb 15

“We need more Krima!”

Glenn Sumi

Arts Roundup, 2010

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My Heart Is A Spoon


by Michael Crabb

Special to the Star
January 18, 2012

If you’ve ever felt the need to release some bottled up emotion or intense, indefinable psychic impulse you’re already half way to grasping what veteran choreographer Maxine Heppner is up to in her latest Toronto production, “My heart is a spoon”.

Heppner, whose more than 30-year professional career has taken her around the world investigating different cultures and aesthetics, has discovered a rich mine of meaning in the world of Japanese manga. Looking at these now internationally ubiquitous comic strips, evolutions of a 17th century heritage that have become an iconic part of today’s pop culture, Heppner was struck by their sense of containment, energy and unseen potential.

The more she thought about and discussed it‚ even convening a panel of experts on the subject, Heppner kept coming back to a central idea, that at their heart these small, boxed, line-drawn manga conveyed a sense of rage. Thus was hatched Heppner’s latest investigative obsession, what she calls the Rage Project.

Explaining her ideas during a break from rehearsals for the new hour-long work, she calls it the first incarnation‚ of an experimental dance-media performance, Heppner wants two things to be very clear.


First, /my heart is a spoon/, for all the included manga imagery, is not itself about manga. The esthetic is being used as a metaphor and compelling visual backdrop for Heppner’s central concern, the amorphous nature of rage. Equally, her chosen title plays on the notion of something that is often empty yet demands to be filled.


And, on her second point, the inherent nature of rage, Heppner wants us to remember that it takes many forms, not all of them negative but be a very creative force, as she explains. It all depends how you handle and direct it.


Translating abstract notions into a theatrical performance brings its own challenges. Heppner’s solution is a character-based situation, not precisely a narrative but certainly a story of personal experience and of a journey from one point to another expressed through movement, sometimes minimal, other times explosive.


Working in close collaboration with renowned Japanese lighting designer Takayuki Fujimoto, a pioneer in the use of high-tech LED devices, media artists Jerome dela Pierre and Elysha Poirier, and cosplay photographer Droo, Heppner evokes an almost surreal environment in which memory, fantasy and reality mix into a heady theatrical brew.


The Theatre Centre’s open performance space is transformed into a white box. Manga and cosplay (costume play) images hover on walls and floor. Takayuki invades the space with pulsating colours. Sarah Shugarman’s music is supplemented with the sounds of the Yoshida Brothers, hip young men who  turned the sound of the traditional Japanese shamisen, a plucked guitar-like instrument, into a pop sensation.

In the midst of this complex and evocative sensory assault are dancers Takako Segawa from Japan and Toronto-based Gerry Trentham, each representing different responses to the impulse of rage.


And it doesn’t stop there. Heppner has assembled a number of ancillary events around the performance. There was an origami group-in session to create props for the show, panels on manga history and the psychology of rage and a concurrent Theatre Centre exhibit of DROO’s cosplay photos. This Saturday, there’s a mini-festival of classic, manga-inspired anime. Heck, if you’re willing to show up for the performance dressed as your favourite manga character, you’ll get $5 off the price of admission.

Globe & Mail

Columnist Sarah Hampson 
Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012

Taking the rage route to finding peace

Happiness would make for boring theatre. It lacks drama and size, and has no sharp edges. Far better to work with a more extreme emotion, something that jumps out at you and demands to be understood.

That’s what Maxine Heppner began thinking about five years ago when introduced to contemporary manga or Japanese print comics. She had long been aware of the ancient art form, but hadn’t taken much interest in the pop culture version. “And when I saw them, I was struck by the energy that comes off the page, that comes out and meets the eye.”

She was also intrigued by the way a book of them is an act of containment. “It is this benign little volume of paper, sitting there on a shelf. You open it and go ‘wow’ and then you can close it and the emotion of it goes away,” says the award-winning dance artist, director and teacher in a phone interview.

An idea for the exploration of a human condition – a big, raw emotion we hold inside and only periodically let out – began to percolate. “The idea of rage is extreme anger. I don’t think of it as the opposite of happiness. That would be sadness, which has no energy and is a deflation. Rage is in a different realm. It’s extreme, like ecstasy. And I wanted to look at it in all its complexity.”


I thought about rage as the inspiration for art when I sat in the darkened theatre to see Heppner’s latest production, My Heart Is a Spoon. It’s well known from happiness studies that a sense of contentment makes us more productive at work and better citizens who want to volunteer and contribute. But does it help create art? I know many creative people – writers and artists – who feel that their discontent is the engine of their work. Friedrich Nietzsche would agree: “You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star,” he wrote.


The play takes place in a simple, white box of a stage set, onto which large manga cartoons and other images were projected. Two characters, a male and a female, one young, one older, offer different respond differently to their contained rage. Created in collaboration with light artist Fujimoto Takayuki, the theatrical environment is surreal, flooded with visions of fantasy, memory, fear and longing. The female character, performed by Takako Segawa, is constantly moving, writhing around on a large ball, unsettled, whereas the older male character (G