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Where or in what time space does identity reside? Yvonne Ng asks How does someone else’s movement quality impact my own dancing self? as she undertakes a pointed investigation for her solo, In Search of the Holy Chop Suey. In it, she ponders a life of creation and imitation in movement and mines influences from sources as varied as her mother, modern dance and kung fu legends, ordinary people, wild animals and more. Says Ng, “When I imitate, I also uncover something unique in myself. Each time I fail to become more like my mother—or my favourite kung fu hero Bruce Lee—I become more me.”
In explaining the title, Ng says: “In the late seventies/early eighties, there was a TV series called In Search of… that focused on mysterious phenomena, e.g. Loch Ness, Holy Grail, Big Foot, etc. But they would never find the ‘thing’ that was the subject of the particular episode. Chop Suey is a dish that reportedly originated from migrant Chinese workers who lived in the U.S.A. in the 19th century. When I was young, living in Asia, I wanted everything western. I knew about the dish and equated it to something Western/North American. The title is a comment on my belief that each of us has a deep desire to find meaning for our lives—even as that meaning eludes us and/or is not what it seems.”
Ng then extends the exploration to Zhong Xin (which translates to centre or core in Mandarin), her trio for three splendid dancers: Irvin Chow, Mairéad Filgate and Luke Garwood. After many months of creating in isolation from each other, the dancers and Ng unite, each harnessing different qualities and histories. In collaboration with composer Nick Storring and set designer Joe Pagnan, Ng and her dancers propose an unknowable universe of possibilities—anchored by memory, identity and the body.
For the evening, multi-faceted award-winning artist Marie-Josée Chartier is the Creative Facilitator, Johanna Bergfelt is the Rehearsal Director and Arun Srinivasan is the Lighting Designer. Set Designer is Joe Pagnan and Set Builder is Bryan Batty.
DanceWorks began in 1977 as a collective of independent dance artists. It has grown to become Toronto’s leading presenter of independent dance. With a strong belief that dance has the power to illuminate, engage and transform all who participate, DanceWorks offers season after season of eclectic, exhilarating choreography programmed to intrigue, challenge and enthral. DanceWorks adds to the theatrical experience with Carol’s Dance Notes and post-performance conversations with artists. DanceWorks is the administrator of the CanDance Network and Dance Ontario Association.
Yvonne Ng is a dancer, choreographer, presenter, producer, curator and arts educator. She is the artistic director and creative instigator behind tiger princess dance projects, which has been in operation since 1996. Yvonne founded the presentation series dance: made in Canada / fait au Canada in 2001. Joined by festival co-directors Janelle Rainville and Jeff Morris, in 2011 Yvonne transitioned the series into a biennial festival that presents the work of contemporary choreographers from across Canada.
Of Peranakan Chinese descent, Yvonne was born and raised in Singapore and moved to Canada in the late ‘80’s where she completed her Honours BFA at York University. Ng began her training with Madam Goh Soo Khim at the Singapore Ballet Academy. Even before completing her BFA at York University, she had co-founded the dance company, Dance Allegro and was in demand in Toronto’s contemporary dance community. After a year in the Danny Grossman Dance Company, she left to work with choreographers such as Bill James (from 1992-2002); José Navas, Menaka Thakkar; Peter Chin; Dominique Dumais and Kevin O’Day (National Theatre Mannheim Ballett); Stephanie Skura; and Tedd Robinson, to name a few.
Her commissioned choreography and performance have earned her eight Dora Mavor Moore nominations and taken her to Australia, Singapore, across Canada and the USA. Writers describe her work as ravishing, paradoxical, immediate and hard-edged, like painful memory.Yvonne is a certified Open Source Forms© (Stephanie Skura/U.S.A.), C-I Training™ and Ashtanga Yoga teacher and has taught in the Dance Departments of Ryerson and York University in Canada, the Theatre Department at Juniata College, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. as well as Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (college) and LaSalle College of the Arts in Singapore.
Yvonne is a recipient of the K.M. Hunter Artist Award, the New Pioneers Arts Award and the Chalmers Arts Fellowship. A multiple nominee, in 2000 she was honoured with a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Performance. In 2007, Ng received the Ontario Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts – New Talent Award; she was selected by fellow recipient and Canadian dance legend Peggy Baker. In addition to choreography and performance, Ng is the artistic director of Series 8:08.