Five Questions about Eight Ways – William Yong and Zata Omm

Zata Omm Dance Projects (Toronto)

Eight Ways from Mara

A DanceWorks Mainstage Event

Enwave Theatre

Thursday October 20- Saturday October 22 8pm,

Sunday October 23 2pm

Tickets: www.danceworks.ca

Interview by Lucy Rupert

Lucy Rupert: What is “Eight Ways From Mara” all about?

William Yong: ‘Eight Ways From Mara’ explores the three elemental forces of Confusion, Temptation and Distraction. As devices of the demon of temptation (Mara), these forces attempt to divert us from our correct path according to Eastern Philosophy.

Today’s confusions and distractions are manifold: rapidly changing technology; global environmental threats; media-fuelled insatiable desires; religious wars. This work is a world I created in order to look at those struggles, to deal with these contemporary challenges that cause us great confusion.

LR: What do you hope audiences will take away from seeing it?

WY: Through this piece I hope to show determination of conserving nature and humanity amid the influences of science and technology. We hope the audiences will find resonance between the underlying philosophy and their own experiences of modern life. We want to create a journey, to broaden and alter the audience’s perspectives and provoke some reflection on modernity.

LR: How do you balance choreographing with dancing your own work?

WY: I am rather active while I am choreographing. I always go in and out of the dance, participating, demonstrating and interacting with the dancers – in group sections, anyway. Making the transition to include myself in the piece is natural and not troublesome. I just need more time, and of course I rely on the video camera a lot.

LR: What is the creative process like with your multi-media artist, Elysha Poirier?

WY: Elysha Poirier is also my technological strategist for ‘Zata Omm Dance and Technology Research Laboratory’. We work very closely together; I give her very specific conceptual ideas for development of the design. She understands how to creatively realize and interpret my ideas, and make them visually compelling. It is my desire that all the integrated arts form a coherent single work.

LR: What, more generally speaking, sparks your creative flame?

WY: I have always been interested in philosophy and psychology. I often choose complex and difficult subject matter that is close to my heart but very challenging for me and my collaborators to distill into dance, but that ultimately can lead to an edifying experience for our audiences.

This interview has been edited for length and content.

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