Getting to Know Peggy Choy

We are excited to present the second interview with artists from the CoolNY 2014 Dance Festival.  Today we'd like you to meet Peggy Choy.  Peggy Choy Dance will be performing at the CoolNY 2014 Dance Festival on Friday, January 31, 7:00pm and 9:00pm, Saturday, February 1, 9:00pm & Sunday, February 2, 6:00pm All performances are held at the WHITE WAVE John Ryan Theatre, 25 Jay St., Brooklyn, NY and are FREE!

Photo of Peggy Choy by:  Steve Eliasen
N:  Monkeyhouse is very interested in education and community development. Can you tell me a bit about THE KI PROJECT?
PC:  The mission of The Ki Project, Inc. (a not-for-profit organization) is to support creative thinking and intercultural performance for future generations. The Ki Project has supported not only the performances by the Peggy Choy Dance Company, but has also supported innovation in performances by emerging groups based, for example, in Cambodian and Hmong communities--two distinct Southeast Asian communities.

N:  The idea of using the performing arts to discuss topics like history, economics and health is fascinating. In what ways do you feel like you are seeing the change to a more sustainable future in your own life?
PC:  “Ki” refers to the inner life-force energy in Korean language (“qi” in Chinese) that is at the center of Asian dance forms and martial arts. This energy is sustainable and renewable and connects with the focused and clear mind that is a root inspiration for me. It is my hope that through my dance I can communicate this powerful energy to the upcoming generation.

N:  Many dance companies these days have trouble passing the five-year mark, yet Peggy Choy Dance has been going strong since the mind 1990s. What is your secret?
PC:  A vision of social transformation and revolution has consistently fueled my dance expression. I often raised my own funding so that I could create work that was not following the mainstream, or what someone else wanted. Since I had to balance creating dance with working and bringing up two children, I had to be patient and have a longer timetable for completing a dance work.

N:  Do you have any tips for young choreographers who are starting companies today? 
PC:  Define a vision for the future beyond your own individual lives, and fearlessly follow your vision.

N:  Both of the pieces you're presenting at the CoolNY Dance Festival are inspired by Asian dance and the Afro-Brazilian martial art of capoeira. Can you talk about how you began working with those two styles?  
Ze Motion, Eugene "Spydey" Jordan,
Gabriel "Kwikstep" Dionisio, Victor "Kid
Glyde" Alicea, photo by Julieta Cervantes
PC:  I should clarify that Asian dance is not a “style”—it’s a general category. In my choreography, Asian dance influences have been specifically Korean dance and Javanese dance forms that I began learning in the 1970s—first in Hawai‘i and then eventually traveling to Korea and Java. I have long been interested in martial arts—I also began learning Chinese taiji quan in the ‘70s. I became interested in learning capoeira as a martial art—inspired by my company members. I was excited when I found that capoeira not only satisfies my love of martial arts but also my love of dance. There are fascinating areas of overlap with taiji quan, including movement that is circular, and a balancing of right- and left-sided movements. There are deep cultural, social and even political histories that one learns that are integral to understanding all of these forms.

N:  Are there things from each that naturally lend themselves to being put together?
PC:  The martial arts logic of avoiding oppression or domination is present in both taiji quan and capoeira. The continuous flow of movement and energy that is found in Korean dance is also found in capoeira. With Javanese dance, there is circularity but it is more contiguous in isolations of the joints. 

N:  Are there things that make the blending more difficult? 
PC:  Whereas the dance forms mentioned and taiji quan upright, with capoeira, one is continually moving from an upright stance to inversions. The fusion is not more difficult but more interesting! 

N:  People in the arts often develop strong mentor/mentee relationships. Did/do you have a mentor throughout your career? 
PC:  I don’t think I have had a close, long-term mentor. I’ve had to do my own exploration without much guidance.

NDo you have a person or people that you have taken the mentorship role for now that you're a more established artist?  
PC:  I try to help and support artists who come into my life—particularly those artists who have worked with me more long-term. 

N:  How do you feel those relationships change your work?  
PC:  I appreciate and respect these artists as unique unto themselves, with a knowledge that is their own. I learn from them as I discover the depth of their own wisdom, and my work gains from this synergy just as I hope they are transformed in some small way.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails