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Member of the month

Yvonne Ng
Dancer, choreographer, presenter, producer, curator and arts educator

 

Our August member of the month is Yvonne Ng!, 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 Festival  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 decent, 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.




1. Where are you from, and what brought you to dance initially?


I was born and raised in Singapore.  Watching musicals on TV brought me to dance!  My mother would allow me to watch old American movies – this started when I was about four?  Of all the different actors, I was fascinated by Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse. I mean Gene can dance, sing and act and even dance with Mickey!! (Mouse that is ;).)



2. Could you talk about your journey as a dancer, from your beginnings to where you stand now?


This is sort of a short answer! (ha!)


Came to Canada to further my studies – not in dance. My father did not want me to pursue a career in dance – even though I said I would become a dance teacher - NO dance career for his youngest daughter. Somehow I found myself in the dance department at York University. I was fortunate to be offered some jobs while still at university. I graduated and was also fortunate to work with Danny Grossman and Paula Thompson (Northern Lights Dance Company – Limon based). My father suggested I stay here.


I didn’t mean to start a company – my desire was to commission four choreographers that I was in awe of (which wasn’t really done back then) and when I got the grant for that project, then there were touring opportunities, so I wrote grants for that and then...



3. How has your view on performance dance changed throughout the years?


My view of what the scope of “dance” is and can be is much broader than it was when I started, and that is exciting. I look at some of my heros like Peggy Baker, who is a vital and commanding dancer - so awesome. I believe that people are much more in tune with different aspects of movement and how it is a crucial part of enriching their lives, and how important the arts are in life, for emotional health and even in business. (There is always talk about the need for innovation.) I just find it strange that we are still living with a 1930s-type education policy where the arts are nice to have, but not important like “reading, riting & ‘rithmetic”.



4. You wear so many hats within the community; dancer, choreographer, presenter, producer, educator and you are the artistic director of tiger princess dance projects! This is incredibly impressive and you have truly made a deep impact on the community, what was the catalyst that brought you to working in so many fields within the arts world?


Well, to begin with - it wasn’t like I ever had a master plan. I grew up in a multicultural Asian society and the work / leisure balance in life is not as segregated as it is here in North America. Doing a bunch of interconnected things that I love and that I believe are necessary and valuable, isn’t work for me. I got into presenting because I had produced a couple of my own shows and I had developed some skills and, more importantly, a network of people I knew and trusted. I know how difficult it is to be both the choreographer and producer at the same time, so I just got to work and got it done.



5. Back in 2001 you founded dance: made in canada / fait au canada Festival, at that time what kind of platform were you creating? Did you feel as if there was something missing that needed to be introduced?


I wanted to provide a platform to artists who were not being presented so I talked to Mimi Beck of DanceWorks to get a better understanding of presenting and the dance environment. And with a lot of advice from her and others, I developed the dance: made in canada / fait au canada platform. Initially (2001 to 2009) we focused on two artists at a time for a 4-night performance run.



6.     How has the festival changed since then, and what kind of goals do you and your team set for the festival each year?


In 2006, David Morrison, my Lighting Designer and good friend, offered me an idea – why not turn this series into a Festival. Somehow he talked Janelle Rainville and Jeff Morris into taking on the Festival as Co-Directors with me. Our goals are pretty basic. This is a choreographer’s festival and we do everything we can to make sure that their sole focus is getting the best possible realization of their vision on stage.



7. What do you look forward to the most at dance: made in Canada / fait au Canada Festival year after year?


Experiencing all the artists’ and their works, and being able to share that with the larger community. The discussions – whether formal or just over drinks and snacks.  


8. Finally what can audiences expect to see at this years festival?


The artists, as always with each of our festivals, come with strong vibrant voices of their world views that challenge us. If there is a change from prior years, it's just that we’re slightly bigger. We have nine MainStage artists this year; in the past few years we have had seven. We also have more works with larger casts: at the past 3 festivals, we averaged 26 dancers in the MainStage and What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) platforms. This year, we will be welcoming 54 dancers to the stage.



9. If you could give a piece of advice to a choreographer regardless of whether they are emerging, mid career or established what would it be?


Who am I to give advice?  Also, were I ever to give advice, it would be specific to the individual I was speaking with. Everyone’s situation, strengths and circumstances are profoundly different that blanket advice like “eat healthy and get enough sleep” is ridiculous because sometimes the most important thing is to have too many drinks with friends or to work through the night to meet a deadline. The advice I give myself (and sometimes have the discipline to follow) is to listen, to respond, to listen again and to accept. There is an impermanence in the world - but do not be afraid of that.

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Make sure to check out the trailer for dance: made in Canada / fait au Canada Festival and find out more information here - https://www.princessproductions.ca/dance/


































In search of the holy chop suey by: Yvonne Ng, photography by Cylla Von Tiedemann
























Moment by: Yvonne Ng, photography by Franck Butaye






















Get to know other CADA-ON Members:

Jillian PeeverViv Moore | James Kendal

Tracey Norman | Bageshree Vaze

Matthew Romantini | Katherine Duncanson 

Tyler Gledhill Ezra Houser | Daniel Gomez |

Tina Fushell | Emma Kerson | Mateo Galindo Torres

Jen Hum | Alvin Collantes




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Email: office@cada-on.ca | Website: www.cada-on.ca

    



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