Dance TO Showcase Feature #2: Emily Cheung of Little Pear Garden Collective

I had the pleasure of being part of a Little Pear Garden Collective show, Four Beauties, in 2010. It was an ambitious project exploring the epic four beauties of Chinese legends, each beauty choreographed by a different creative mind with very different ends. I danced a solo by William Yong using paper and bowls and paint, nestled between traditional dance works, poetic narrative and another contemporary dance work. With Emily Cheung fairly new -- at that point-- to artistic directorship of LPGC, it was clear that she had an expansive and inclusive vision for the company. It was also clear that she is one of the sweetest people you can imagine. 

(I use superlatives a lot in these interviews, but our community is full of some truly great people and it is worth saying.)

Little Pear Garden Collective is one of the showcase performance companies in the Dance TO Showcase programming Sept 28-Oct 1, 2015. 
photo of Emily Cheung courtesy of LPGC

I interviewed Emily via email as she, like so many, is gearing up for a lot of activity at the beginning of this season. 
LUCY: Why was Little Pear Garden Collective founded? How do you think that has shifted under your leadership?

EMILY: Little Pear Garden Collective was founded to increase awareness of Chinese dance scene in Canada.  Little Pear Garden Collective started with Peking Opera and progressed to dance as a new vision for the company. We produce dance drama works unique to Canadian audiences. Our works contains both essence of Chinese mythical and contemporary elements, the best of both worlds.

photo of Lucy Rupert in LPGC work by William Yong

LUCY: What keeps you inspired as a dancer, as a creator?

EMILY: I am inspired by movement that feels. Music that holds to our memories. As a creator, I am inspired by the story I choose to tell. I look into character development, the movement that signifies the character's situation. Dance, the universal language that talks about love, hate, abandonment, betrayal, loyalty....etc. 

photo of LPGC's Venom of Love courtesy of LPGC

LUCY: Can you tell me a bit about the work you'll be showcasing this fall?

EMILY: "Venom of Love" is a dance work based on mythical legend in China, told in a stylized dance form and through the eyes of creepy and animalistic demons rather from human perspective. Two people in different worlds fell in love and took a risk to be together through sacrifice, punishment and abandonment.  In Act 2 demons encounter a human scholar. White Snake falls in love with him but, Green Snake (her best friend) and Monkey try to stop her.  

photo of LPGC's Venom of Love courtesy of LPGC

LUCY: What do you think dance artists can do to improve the health of the Toronto dance community? Not that it’s ailing, just wondering how different artists like yourself envision it getting better and better.

EMILY: There needs to be more presenters aiming to showcase Canadian high-calibre programming. I don't mean big successful dance companies, but companies that have potential.  There needs to be increase of various dance styles that signify the uniqueness of Canadian dance scene. More workshops/ masterclasses in a wide range of dance styles to push dancers.
photo of LPGC's Venom of Love courtesy of LPGC

LUCY: What is your dream project for LPGC?

EMILY: After 71 shows in B.C. last year, we are ready to tour within and outside of Canada. 

LUCY: can you tell me about a performance you’ve seen that was a game changer — artistically or personally? Something you were in the audience for, rather than performing in. Who was it, when, where, why was it impactful?

EMILY: I have seen many that were impactful.  Artists like Marie Chouinard, Maurice Bejart and Pina Bausch.

You can see Little Pear Garden Collective marry the classical and contemporary in an excerpt of Venom of Love at the Dance TO Showcase
Tuesday September 29 at 4:45pm
Fleck Dance Theatre

this is a FREE event for professional Toronto dance artists of all shapes, sizes and disciplines
Reserve your spot

For the complete showcase schedule:

And more about Dance TO Showcase:


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