Chinese culture and York talent merge this weekend

Although you may not have the time or the money for an exotic vacation this year, you can head to a far-off destination in your own backyard this weekend, without hefting a 40-pound suitcase off the baggage carousel.

From July 22-24, Harbourfront Centre celebrates the cultural and artistic vitality of China past and present at a new summer festival called Dim Sum: Sampling Contemporary Chinese Culture. The event will feature a vibrant display of Chinese arts and artists from Canada and beyond, including some of the country’s best modern dancers. While there, you can also savour some York talent.

Left and below: Images from the Dim Sum: Sampling Contemporary Chinese Culture festival

Taking centre stage July 23 at 8pm will be Zihao Li (MA/BED ’03 Dance), Emily Cheung (BFA ’02 Dance/BED ’05) and Peter Chin (BFA ’85 Visual Arts), along with six others, in partnership with the Little Pear Collective. Their original solo dance works will pay tribute to Beijing’s 90-year-old dance legend Madam Dai Ai Lian. Widely acknowledged as the most influential person in Chinese modern dance, this legendary dance master will be in attendance. Curated by William Lau (MFA ’91Dance), the presentation will be held in the Studio Theatre.

Music completes the yin and yang of this event with The Yellow River Ensemble taking to the Toronto Star Stage on July 23 at 12:30pm. This professional Chinese music troupe, based in Toronto, is directed by Kim Chow-Morris, a York alumna and Music Department instructor. Chow-Morris, who holds both a masters degree and a PhD in ethnomusicology from York, is one of Canada’s leading performers of Chinese music. A dizi virtuoso with an international performance profile, she studied dizi and xiao with legendary masters Lu Chun Ling and Yu Xun Fa in China, where she is widely recognized for her artistry. At York, she teaches western and Chinese flute and is the founding director of the Music Department’s Chinese Classical Orchestra (See the Jan. 11 issue of  YFile).

The ensemble will be performing traditional and contemporary Chinese music on instruments such as the dizi (transverse bamboo flute), zhongruan (moon guitar), hulusi (gourd-based reed instrument), gaohu (high-pitched bowed lute), erhu (python-skin bowed lute), guzheng (Chinese zither/harp), xiao (vertical bamboo flute) and various percussion instruments.

In addition to dance and music performances, there will be literary readings, theatre productions, dragon boat rides, visual arts displays, screening of films, cooking demonstrations and panel discussions. Dim Sum: Sampling Contemporary Chinese Culture is Harbourfront Centre’s first major summer festival to explore the contemporary Chinese cultural identity.

All events, which have free admission and are suitable for the entire family, take place at Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queen’s Quay West, Toronto. For more information, including a schedule of dates, times and venues, visit the Harbourfront Centre Web site.

This article was submitted to YFile by Mary-Lou Schagena in the Faculty of Fine Arts.