Big feat for a pint-sized dancer

She might be 4-foot-10, but Yvonne Ng’s passion for dance is anything but pint-sized, began a profile of the York alumna in Toronto’s Town Crier July 20. As a recipient of several prestigious awards – the Dora Mavor Moore Award in 2000 and the K.M. Hunter Dance Award, two years later – Ng is a pioneer in Canada’s dance industry. Collaborating with Singaporean choreographer Angela Liong, Ng recently presented the Canadian premiere of Scarlet’s Room at the Winchester Street Theatre. The pieces – Rouge Stain, Moss and Dusk Grey – are a mix of the two choreographers’ Asian heritage combined with Western influences. “I’m a product of Western influences across the world. I studied ballet when I was little because it was what was on TV,” said Ng, who earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from York in 1987.

One of first pageant protesters

In the wake of the Miss BC World pageant July 8, Vancouver’s Georgia Strait recalled a protest almost 40 years earlier of the 1970 Miss Canadian University pageant. Miss Simon Fraser University stepped aside to let the independent Vancouver Women’s Caucus send a protest candidate instead, Janiel Jolley. Simultaneously, the Women’s Liberation Movement in Toronto was also planning to disrupt the pageant. The movement’s organizers begged Judy Darcy, then 19, to be their undercover mole. “It was really, really scary,” she told the Straight, recalling her decision to enter as Miss York University. “When you’re 19 and searching for your own identity and what you believe in, and challenging social values, and then you go strutting your stuff in a totally foreign environment, it was quite scary.”

But she did it. Darcy, now the secretary-business manager at BC’s Hospital Employees Union, borrowed a sari — no one she knew owned a formal gown — relearned how to wear makeup and hit the runway on national TV. She remembered being introduced as “a brunette wearing a sari from York University, who is interested in child care, and a sociology major”. (She attended York in 1969-70.)

Then the plan kicked in. Jolley, leading a gang of young women, marched to the sound stage and demanded the right to speak. The judges told her no. Jolley shouted, “This pageant exploits women!” That was Darcy’s cue. Out from a “bevy of beauties”, as she remembers an article stating, she stood up and declared: “It’s true! This is a meat market, and it does exploit women!”

The cameras shut off, and Darcy left the studio with her fellow revolutionaries. Sheepishly, she remembers that just after the cameras started rolling again, the semifinalists’ names were announced. Darcy had made it to the next level.

On air

  • David Dewitt, former director of the York Centre for International & Security Studies and currently assistant vice-president research, discussed what motivates Israel to continue its air strikes against Lebanon and how Hezbollah is an impediment to peace, in a CBC radio interview that aired July 20 on local and regional programs across Canada, from Sydney to Vancouver to Yellowknife and including Toronto’s “Here and Now”.
  • Martin Shadwick, a foreign policy analyst with the York Centre for International & Security Studies, discussed the evacuation of Canadians from Lebanon, in a CBC Radio interview aired July 21 in Thunder Bay.
  • Environmental studies Prof. Stefan Kipfer discussed Toronto’s plans to revamp a derelict neighbourhood, on TVO’s “Studio 2” July 19.
  • Alice Panikian, a second-year York student, was to compete in the Miss Universe competition Sunday, reported “ET Canada” on Global TV July 20.