Roland and Victoria are a true partnership: choreographic, performative and in life. They have followed and led each other across the globe with their love and careers, and with the show they bring to the Toronto Fringe - The Ballad of Herbie Cox - they are willing to reveal some dark family secrets which have unraveled over the course of their romantic and dancing partnership.
Make no mistake, Roland and Victoria have some serious chops.
Roland attended the Australian Ballet School and danced corps and soloist roles with Australian Ballet Company for 4 years after graduation. Even within the classical ballet world he was stretched in new and unusual directions.
“I won a scholarship to go to Ghana in West Africa to study music & dance,” Roland says, “And on my return I was commissioned to write a score for a new work by The Australian Ballet.”
When he departed the company, he went back to West Africa, this time to Guinea.
“I played drums and percussion in bands for a couple of years. After a three-day fast, drinking only fresh juices, I decided I wanted to start dancing again.”
Roland got a call from a friend who was leaving Sydney Dance Company and recommended he contact the company, that there was a good chance he’d get a job there.
“I stayed there for 3 years touring nationally and internationally. I wanted to work in Europe so in 2004 at the age of 30, I got a job with Compagnie Nomades in Switzerland where I met and fell in love with Victoria.”
Roland also freelanced in Europe working with an intriguing list of dance creators and companies: Joachim Schloamer, Michael Keegan-Dolan, Protein Dance Theatre, Jane Turner, and Javier de Frutos.
Victoria received a degree in contemporary dance performance from the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, Australia. Her professional life began with commercial dance gigs up and down the east coast of Australia before she headed off to Europe where she got a job with the contemporary dance company Compagnie Nomades, and also worked with Munich choreographer Micha Purucker.
Opportunities to create began to appear. “I created a new work with Gilles Jobin's company which toured extensively in Europe and also Africa. In Switzerland I made 3 of my own works, funded by Ville de Geneve and Lotterie Romandes.
In 2008 they both moved back to Australia. Roland studied Piano at The Sydney Conservatorium of Music and followed that with a job at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School as the Head of Dance Musicians.
“I recently took leave from that post in order to concentrate more on creating art and currently am playing in several bands in Melbourne.”
Back in Australia, Victoria has continued her independent work as well as dancing for choreographers Bernadette Walong and Fiona Malone. Both she and Roland took part in the NBC show ‘Superstars of Dance’, representing Australia in an international dance competition with masters of several dance forms from all over the world competing for the top prize. Australia came in second. (Well done!!)
“After that,” explains Victoria “I created a full length work with Swiss company, Compagnie Jozsef Trefeli which we performed in Sydney and Geneva. I also continued to do projects with Micha Purucker in Germany.
Victoria and Roland are touring the Canadian Fringe Festival circuit with their work The Ballad of Herbie Cox.
“We wanted to create and perform our show in our own way without having to satisfy funding criteria. We had heard how fun the Canadian Fringe circuit was and we wanted to experience it ourselves.”
When they are finished the grueling Fringe circuit – for those of you who’ve done it, you know what I mean – they hit the ground running again.
Roland returns to Melbourne to take the role of Assistant Director of Asanti Dance Theatre in their production of Sankofa. Victoria will be making a work in Alice Springs with Dusty Feet Dance while continuing to teach at different institutions and festivals in Australia.
And the Ballad of Herbie Cox, what’s it all about?
“Part of being in a relationship is discovering each other's families.” They say, “When we decided to make The Ballad of Herbie Cox, we'd recently acquired a new perspective on family so we went on a journey to rediscover our families.
“We interviewed them and found stories we'd never heard before. There were plenty of surprises. Most families are a bit strange, aren't they?”
They started the creative process with a lot of stories – so many they had to cull some gems -- and director Jonno Katz, an artist with a lot of experience with Canadian audiences and trained in the LeCoq style of physical, devised theatre.
Roland and Victoria created scenes incorporating dance, music and storytelling with Jonno, helping them shape and craft each story or scene. Every story is approached in a different way to honour their uniqueness.
They hope The Ballad of Herbie Cox takes the audience on an emotional journey that makes them draw similarities to their own families and experiences. It is dark but approached with a fun spirit and a sense of bravery. From Brahms to beatbox, from circus to ballet:
“The work has everything in it; comedy, tears, joy, love, life and death.”
As for the future, what inspires them to keep creating and performing with the drive and perseverance they have already shown?
“It is who we are,” they say.
The Ballad of Herbie Cox
By: Victoria Chiu and Roland Cox
Company: Co. Sum of Its parts & Cie. Jozsef Trefeli
Company origin: Melbourne, Australia
Director: Jonno Katz
Choreographed and performed by: Victoria Chiu, Roland Cox
Show length: 60min.
Warnings: Mature Language
This performance is accessible for non-English speakers
July 06 03:30 PM
July 07 03:30 PM
July 08 07:00 PM
July 11 05:45 PM
July 12 03:30 PM
July 13 12:00 PM
July 14 12:30 PM
at-the-door tickets ($10)
advance tickets ($9 + $2 service charge)
Available up to three hours prior to the start of a performance: Online at www.fringetoronto.com
By Phone at 416-966-1062
July 2nd – 15th, daily, 9:30am – 6:30pm
In person at the Festival Box Office
July 4th – 15th, 12 – 10pm @ The Fringe Club, 581 Bloor St. W.
5 Pack ($45) – savings of $5
10 Pack ($82) – savings of $18!more info: www.fringetoronto.com