Dance and dialogue a marriage of Undivided Colours

Photo courtesy of Co. ERASGA

Photo courtesy of Co. ERASGA

Undivided Colours, a collection of performances by five international Asian artists, showcases the beauty of diversity and the fluidity of gender through the eloquence of dance movements.

Audiences experience contemporary topics of cultural diversity and gender through the traditional tool of dance. The show will marry together all the styles each of the performers specialize in, from traditional Thai Classical dance, folk to modern dance.

Alvin Erasga Tolentino, Artistic Director of Co. ERASGA and performer in Undivided Colours, believes the contrasting dynamics (the yin and yang) encompass elements specifically depicted in dance.

“Audiences may experience how the role of gender is a natural pathway to acknowledge the importance of duality. Gender becomes a form of communication,” says Tolentino.

The Vancouver native explains that through their performances audiences can experience the fluidity and mixed dynamics of gender.

“The role of characterization in dance provides us stories,” says Tolentino. “It may be a male or female archetype, but the two work side by side to create and give substance that is powerful to behold, that is artistically based.”

Performers in the show have experience with gender politics in their performances: Pichet Klunchun, from Thailand, who is one of the current masters of Thai Khon dance; Didik Nini Thowok, from Indonesia, continues the long tradition of Cross Gender dance form; and William Lau, from Ottawa, specializes in the Dan (female roles) of Peking Opera.

Dialogue in dance

The show has a three-day symposium, which gives the opportunity for all five artists – along with guest speakers – to discuss and engage in audience interaction.

“It is a rare occasion that we can sit, discuss our practice and make comparisons or learn from one another. It involves trust and vulnerability within the artist and to the public on such occasion,” says Tolentino.

The discussions will tackle deep issues relevant in today’s society, such as: gender, body, dance diversity

Alvin Erasga Tolentino | Photo courtesy of Co.ERASGA

Alvin Erasga Tolentino | Photo courtesy of Co.ERASGA

and identity. Culturally diverse experiences and perspectives will be presented in the symposium as guest speakers and performers range from broad geographical locations, including the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, as well as other Asian-Canadian communities.

Lau has performed in such locales as the USA, China, Indonesia, and Puerto Rico – and is one of the performers that specializes in Chinese operative dance.

“Culture shapes gender, and in a contemporary society we need to examine how gender is being represented and shaped in the future,” says Lau. “I hope that the classical form of Chinese operatic dance will inform this process.”

Undivided Colours performance series will be held at The Scotiabank Dance Centre and The Roundhouse Community Arts Centre (677 Davie St and 181 Roundhouse Mews).

Undivided Colours Symposium: Nov. 7 (2¬–8:00p.m.); Nov. 8 (1–3:30p.m.); and Nov. 9 (5– 7 p.m.). Undivided Colours Performances: Sat Nov. 8 (8 p.m.–9:10 p.m.) and Sun Nov. 9 (2–3:10p.m.).