CanAsian Dance’s KickStart program, in collaboration with Tangente and Festival Accès Asie, commissions Canadian choreographers, challenging them to develop and perform a short work that represents a significant new direction or constructive disruption in their approach to choreography. This year’s program features choreographers from Halifax, Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montréal.
“When you have lost your way, go back to where you started from.” Dai Ailian
calm and dormant with strength and power; sinuous and flowing is a personal story. Through it, choreographer-performer Katherine Ng explores a side of herself that, for much of her life, she has tried to run away from. As a second generation Chinese immigrant, this solo is an opportunity to dig deeper into her roots and embrace the beauty that lies in her family’s history and rich cultural traditions. The choreographic language is primarily defined by strict and disciplined movement, while simultaneously breaking in and out of a physical vocabulary that is soft and sumptuous. This duality creates a universe that playfully oscillates between form and all that exists on its threshold. At times, she finds repose in moments of silence and stillness before allowing new movement to emerge.
Born in Jerusalem and raised in Toronto, Jonathan Joseph Bendavid is a performing musician and composer. He studied jazz at the Lin and Ted Arison Israel Conservatory of Music, where he specialized in trumpet. Jonathan is published on all major streaming platforms with over 2000 monthly listeners in over 95 countries and has more than 130,000 streams. In July 2023, he performed at the New Orleans Jazz Festival in Tel Aviv with the Fanga Gospel Choir as a tenor vocalist and musical arranger. Jonathan is a passionate R&B singer and a guitarist in many styles, including jazz, R&B, and contemporary. He has collaborated on numerous video-based projects with Canadian performance artist MBD and contemporary dance artist Laura Toma.
Joy Rider’s Walang Hiya is a long-form burlesque performance that focuses on Filipina sexuality, integrating elements from Filipino culture. How can one remain the subject of their sexuality within a context that limits their agency and humanity? How can someone with particular identity markers that are frequently fetishized become an agent of their sexuality? This burlesque performance invites a shift from a socially acceptable expression of femininity within a patriarchal culture that expects the feminine to be demure, submissive, or chaste to one that is subversive and even pleasurable.
Omote (面) is a performance by dance artist Shion Skye Carter and visual artist Miya Turnbull, in which hand-crafted masks in a myriad of shapes and facial expressions become extensions of the body. The masks’ distorted imagery borders on uncanny, challenging traditional ideas of beauty while articulating the concept of honne (本音) and tatemae (建前), when a person’s true feelings and desires (honne) contrasts with their behaviour and the opinions they share in public (tatemae). The artists examine how cultural expectations and one’s ancestral history influence the parts of ourselves that we express to the world and the parts that we keep hidden away.
What is home? Yui Ugai and Ashvini Sundaram confront patterned relationships with their cultural environments, traditions, and practices in their investigation of home. Born in Hiroshima, Yui seeks to embody elements of traditional Japanese dance in her pursuit of new, hybrid Japanese contemporary aesthetics. Born in Singapore and raised in Canada, Ashvini embodies traditional South Indian dance in order to stay in touch with her Tamil identity. Living in intersections, Yui and Ashvini help each other to face their respective embodied memories of severance and resilience. They search for female humanity, commonality and connectedness, tethering themselves to new, shared elements of home.
Shion Skye Carter (she/they) is a dance artist originally from Tajimi, Japan, who lives and dedicates time to her artistic practice in Vancouver, Canada, as a guest on the unceded, ancestral lands of the Coast Salish peoples. Through choreography hybridized with heritage art forms that interact with digital and sculptural objects, Shion’s work looks inward to the facets of her intersectional identity as a lens to process the world around her. As co-founder of interdisciplinary duo olive theory with musician Stefan Nazarevich, she collaborates at the intersection between embodied performance, installation art, and live sound. Shion has performed in cities across Canada, and interpreted the works of prolific artists such as Vanessa Goodman (Action at a Distance), Wen Wei Dance, plastic orchid factory, and Ziyian Kwan (Dumb Instrument Dance). She holds a BFA from Simon Fraser University, and is the 2022 recipient of the Iris Garland Emerging Choreographer Award.
Miya Turnbull is a multi-disciplinary visual artist of mixed Japanese Canadian ancestry. She graduated from the University of Lethbridge (Alberta) with a BFA and currently lives in K’jipuktuk (Halifax, NS), on the ancestral and unceded land of the Mi’kmaq People. She works with many different mediums but is primarily a mask-maker, and new to her practice is performance. She focuses on Self-Portraits, using her Photo-Mask technique to make life-like representations of her face, often distorting and manipulating her image in various ways, which she then wears as a ‘false face’ or ‘second skin’. She has exhibited her masks, photos, and video in galleries such as Gallery 101 (Ottawa), JCCC Gallery (Toronto), Kishka Gallery (US), Maximiliansforum (Germany), and The Beaney (UK). Miya has been very fortunate to receive the support of Arts N.S. and the Canada Council for the Arts, which has allowed her artwork to flourish.
Ashvini Sundaram (pronounced uh·sh-vi-nee su-ntha-rum) is a dance artist trained in bharatanatyam. Born in Singapore, raised in Vancouver and trained in India, Ashvini explores questions regarding embodied knowledge, multi-cultural identity and decoloniality. Her work Art of Time, created through York University’s MFA program, uses cultural knowledge about cyclical time to disrupt the much-reiterated view that dance is ephemeral. Ashvini continues to contextualize her traditional practice in Canada, targeting questions related to sensuality and spirituality as seen in her repertoire Shringara, meaning “erotic love”, presented at New Work’s All Over the Map on Granville Island in 2022, and in her short film VASANTHAM, presented at CanAsian Dance Festival 25!, dance made in Canada festival, and F-O-R-M in 2022. Ashvini is a humble recipient of federal, provincial, and local awards, such as the Chrystal Dance Prize from Dance Victoria and grants from Canada Council for the Arts and BC Arts Council.
Yui Ugai was born in Hiroshima, Japan. She majored in drama in high school and studied dance and music at Kobe Jogakuin University. Yui obtained professional ballet training at the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), and she was awarded a prize for excellence in dance by the magazine Dance Dance Dance in 2008. Yui holds a BFA and MFA in Dance from York University in Toronto. She has received an Ontario Graduate Scholarship, York Graduate Scholarship, YU Graduate Fellowship, and W. Lawrence Heisey Graduate Awards in Fine Arts during her study. She has also received a Toronto Shinkikai Scholarship, Takatazuka Doi Airin Scholarship, Hiroshima Cultural Foundation Scholarship in Arts, and Dora Mavor Moore Awards nomination. She has danced and toured nationally and internationally with The Toronto Blue Jays, Skindivers, Limitless Productions, The Parahumans, Little Pear Garden Dance Company, Ballet Creole, Kashe Dance Company, Kaeja d’Dance, Anima Inc. (Mexico/Peru), and more. Her research involves looking into traditional Japanese performing art forms and exploring what it means for her body and her identity to live at the intersection of her Japanese origins and her experience with Canadian dance companies.
Katherine Ng has been actively working as a professional dancer since 2014. Born and raised in Ottawa, she graduated from The School of Dance’s Contemporary Dance Diploma, under director Sylvie Desrosiers. Her career began in Montréal, where Katherine had the opportunity to perform and create with <AP&A>, Interlope, La Tresse, and many more, while participating in many international dance festivals. She also had the opportunity to work on a touring production called Pearl Production with choreographer Daniel Ezralow. Where East meets West, Pearl Production had an exchange with dancers from Nanjing, China. Her last contract was with MGM in Macau, where she had worked with Michael Jackson’s trusty choreographer Travis Payne. Currently, she is working with Ottawa Dance Directives and recently performed a work by Jocelyn Todd and Tedd Robinson.
Born in Jerusalem and raised in Toronto, Jonathan Joseph Bendavid is a performing musician and composer. He studied jazz at the Lin and Ted Arison Israel Conservatory of Music specializing in trumpet. Jonathan is published on all major streaming platforms with over 2000 monthly listeners in over 95 countries and has more than 130,000 streams. In July 2023 he performed at the New Orleans Jazz Festival in Tel Aviv with the Fanga Gospel Choir as a tenor vocalist and musical arranger. Jonathan is a passionate R&B singer and a guitarist in many styles, including Jazz, R&B, and contemporary. He has collaborated on numerous video-based projects with Canadian performance artist MBD and contemporary dance artist Laura Toma.
Marbella Carlos is an interdisciplinary artist born in Manila, Philippines, based in Tiohtià:ke/Montréal. Her recent performance work as Joy Rider has led to multiple awards and international performances, including at Fierté Montréal 2019, Teaser Festival New Orleans, and Bagel Burlesque Expo. She was the winner of the prestigious Best Debut category at the top burlesque competition in the world, the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas (Nevada). She holds a BFA (University of Calgary), a BEd (University of Toronto OISE), and an MA (Concordia University, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada SGS Master’s), is a Storytellers National Finalist, and more.
Shion Skye Carter – Dance artist
Miya Turnbull – Multi-disciplinary visual artist
Ashvini Sundaram – Dance artist
Yui Ugai – Dance performer
Katherine NG – Performer
Jonathan Joseph Bendavid – Musician and composer
Marbella Carlos (Joy Rider) – Burlesque performer