Four at the Winch Returns with choreography by Valerie Calam, Sarah Chase, D.A. Hoskins and William Yong. Presented by Toronto Dance Theatre at the Winchester Street Theatre (80 Winchester). Runs to April 5, Thursday-Saturday 8 pm. $15, stu/srs $12. 416-967-1365 ext 33.
When dance artist william yong was young, he lived in a 25-square-metre room with four other people and played with anything he could get his four-year-old hands on."I remember playing with shoeboxes as if they were oxygen tanks," he recalls. "I pretended I was underwater and that the cockroaches were fish."
Growing up in cramped quarters inspired The Crowded Room, his latest piece of choreography. It's part of Toronto Dance Theatre's Four At The Winch Returns, on through Saturday.
"There was so much confusion and chaos in my life," says Yong, whose parents worked such long hours they moved him to his aunt and uncle's in Hong Kong for two years. "Now, I appreciate every inch of space I live in."
It's hard to imagine the long-limbed Yong, a highly fluid and regal dancer with TDT for the past three seasons, confined to any one room -- or single activity.
In high school, he played pretty much every sport and headed a Hong Kong pop band that signed a deal with BMG records. After graduating, he auditioned on a whim for the Hong Kong Dance Academy and became the only one to be accepted without any formal dance training.
"I didn't know what first or second positions were," he recalls, "and I cried all the time for the first two weeks."
Eventually, he received his M.A. in dance in England, then worked for choreographers as renowned as Wayne McGregor and Matthew Bourne. He played one of the swans in Bourne's acclaimed Swan Lake, which travelled to Broadway.
"To tell a story onstage in an inventive way without words or voice-over is the hardest thing to do, and Bourne is the master of that," says Yong. "He's so innovative. In five years, I learned so much from him."
Yong, who's premiered a couple of short pieces at the fringe Festival Of Independent Dance Artists, finds choreography more stimulating and full of ideas and creativity than dancing.
"A lot of the moves, scenes and transitions come to me during dreams," he says. "I wake up and write them down."
In a crowded room?
"No," says Yong, whose family moved to Toronto. "We've got a much better standard of living now. We're happy. We have more space. But we never forget the old days."email@example.com