Chinese Contemporary Dance Aesthetics–Chinese Dance Symposium (2013)


As part of the celebration of Little Pear Garden Collective’s twentieth Anniversary in 2013-2014, in association with Harbourfront Centre’s World Stage, we presented Chinese contemporary dance aesthetics–a symposium and workshop series on the aesthetics of Chinese performing arts, particularly as it related to the Chinese Diaspora within Canada. The symposium was presented by scholars, performers and artistic directors from China, Taiwan, the United States and Canada. They discussed about their work, inspiration and the trends and cultures in the countries in which they practiced. Following the symposium there was a series of workshops led by some of our speakers, designed for professional and pre-professional dancers.

Our 1 ½ -day symposium was organized under two major themes: telling a personal story through contemporary dance and investigating cultural identity. Our speakers on the first day focused more on their sources of inspiration and methodology, while those on the second day recalled history and how the art has become what it is today. Based on the feedback forms that we collected from the participants, they enjoyed hearing about the diversity of the speakers’ backgrounds and their work. The Chinese dance community’s vitality was impressive. The talks were very informative, helping the audience gain a better appreciation of contemporary Chinese dance. Carolyne Clare, the representative from the Society of Canadian Dance Studies, wrote,

“I was surprised by how easily I could feel connected to the dances we observed, which share some common histories with my own dance practices. In addition, I was moved by the dancers technical proficiency (even the students were amazing!), dedication and beauty. “

The timing and format of “Chinese Contemporary Dance Aesthetics” were impeccable. The discussion happened after the world has started to take interest in learning all things Chinese, when China, Taiwan and other Chinese nationals have earned global recognition and when the Canadian presenters have begun to invite Chinese contemporary dance companies, yet the genre is still in an early stage of its development. It generated publicity for our artists and Harbourfront Centre by giving them a platform and to reach new audience through the media. It has shown that Chinese contemporary dance is worthy of exploration on stage as well as in an academic setting. The style is not just happening in East Asia, but it is simultaneously being developed all over the world. Canada, in particular, with its cultural diversity, is coming up with a unique flavour. The event helped the Little Pear Garden Collective with a comparative study of our history and our work alongside with other artists who share a lot of similarities. As an organization that is rooted in traditional dance and has changed artistic direction, the symposium has helped develop a supportive community of artists, scholars and cultural workers from several countries to take the company’s work to international market in the future.


Participating artists: Tao Ye (TAO Dance Theater, Beijing, China), Jeffrey Chan (Wu Ming Dance Project, Toronto, Canada), Emily Cheung (Little Pear Garden Collective, Toronto, Canada), Cheng Xin Wei (Moving Dragon, Ohio, the USA), Lee Su Feh (Battery Opera, Vancouver, Canada), Dr. Lin Yatin (Taipei University of the Arts, Taiwan), Alison Friedman (Ping Pong Production, the USA and China), Yvonne Ng (tiger princess dance projects, Toronto, Canada)
Symposium Date: March 23 and 24, 2013 Time: 9:30am Location: Lakeside Terrace, Harbourfront Centre
Workshop Date: March 24, 2013, Location: Toronto Dance Theatre, 80 Winchester Street, Toronto, ON, M4X 1B2

Symposium Day 1 – March 23, 2013

9:30-10:00 Registration
10:00-10:45 Mr. Chengxin Wei, Moving Dragon, Ohio, U.S.A,“Bridging Chinese Dance and Contemporary Dance: Moving Dragon and the Creative Process”
10:45-11:30 Mr. Tao Ye , Tao Dance Theatre, Beijing, China, “The Making of TAO Dance Theater”
11:30-12:15 Ms. Emily Cheung, Little Pear Garden Collective, Ontario, Canada,“Little Pear Garden Collective and Chinese contemporary dance”
12:00-12:30 Panel Discussion/ Q and A
12:30-1:45 Lunch & Networking
1:45-2:30 Mr. Jeffrey Chan, Wu Ming Dance Project, Ontario, Canada, “Crossing the Bridge”
2:30-3:15 Prof. Lin Yatin, Taipei National University of the Arts, Taiwan, “From Ritualistic to Futuristic– the Myriad Forms of Contemporary Dance from Taiwan”
3:15-3:45 Panel Discussion/ Q & A

Symposium Day 2 – March 24, 2013

9:30-10:00 Registrations
10:00-10:45 Ms. Lee Su-Feh, Battery Opera, B.C., Canada, “Considering this Body”
10:45-11:30 Ms. Alison M. Friedman, Ping Pong Production, Beijing, China, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Carving Out Space for Modern Dance in China”
11:30- 12:15 Ms. Yvonne Ng, princess tiger projects, Ontario., Canada, “Am i asian enough?”
12:15- 12:45 Panel Discussion/ Q & A

Workshops Day 2 – March 24, 2013

2:00-3:45 Ms. Lee Su-Feh, Battery OperaSu-Feh
3:45-5:30 Mr. Jeffrey Chan, Wu Ming Dance Projectjchan
6:30-7:45 Mr. Chengxin Wei, Moving Dragon

Chengxin Wei Photo courtesy of: Chengxin Wei

7:45-9:15 Ms. Yvonne Ng, tiger princess projects4418 03 34

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