dig choreographed by katherine duncanson and susan lee, presented by Princess Productions and DanceWorks at the Dancemakers Studio (927 Dupont),.
dig choreographed by katherine duncanson and susan lee, presented by Princess Productions and DanceWorks at the Dancemakers Studio (927 Dupont), November 8-10 at 8 pm. $15, stu/srs $12. 416-204-1083.
growing up chinese canadian in Nova Scotia wasn’t easy for dance artist Susan Lee. For one thing, she had to be a good Asian daughter (“No dating till after high school!”) while trying to fit in with her mostly white Down East neighbours. “I grew up neither fish nor fowl,” says Lee, now a Toronto resident and dance mainstay for more than a decade.
“I wasn’t really Chinese, but I obviously didn’t look white. I was always trying to find a place to fit in.”
In a sense, she’s coming to terms with her past in a triptych of solos she performs through Saturday at the Dancemakers Studio. She shares the bill with interdisciplinary artist Katherine Duncanson in a new platform for indie dance artists called Made In Canada/Fait Au Canada kick-started by Yvonne Ng.
SkinQuest, the first piece Lee’s performing, looks at growing up Chinese in Halifax and draws on 1970s pop tunes, Celtic fiddle music and Chinese folk songs.
“There’s an obvious bridging of the two cultures,” she explains about the piece and its musical sources. “I studied the violin and fiddle. Something about growing up there filters through.”
Lee’s three pieces — the others are called Chamber and Nucleus — travel outward from the micro to the macro, the personal to the metaphysical. The first two deal with human emotions and reactions, while the last is more about lines, shapes and space.
Lee’s danced for some of the country’s top choreographers, including Bill James, Peter Chin and Bill Coleman. She’s also helped other choreographers create works through improvisation, something that sparked her own interest in making up dance.
“It’s really difficult,” she admits, about choreographing her own works.
“At first it feels like stepping into a puddle. But then you look out and it’s an ocean. Well, hey, I guess I’m ready to go for a swim.”