An Interview with the Very Fluid, Very Fluent Peter Chin

Tribal Crackling Wind (Toronto)


A DanceWorks Mainstage Event

Thursday November 3 through Saturday November 5 at 8pm

Enwave Theatre


Interview by Lucy Rupert

Lucy Rupert: What is Fluency all about?

Peter Chin: Fluency is about the desire to become part of culture that’s not one’s own and by extension cultural translation and empathy.

LR: What do you hope audiences will experience with your performance?

PC: I hope audiences will have some insights into different ways of being present in the world, while laughing and having a good time.

LR: I’m curious, how many languages do you speak and how/when did you learn each?

PC: I speak English as a first language, which is spoken in my birthplace Jamaica. I speak Indonesian from living there over a seven-year period, mostly self-taught and writing and reading letters (before the internet!). I have been learning Spanish for about three years now. You will have to come to the show to decide if I can speak it or not.

LR: You seem compelled with many of your works to integrate yourself with many different cultures, where do you think this impulse come from?

PC: This is precisely one of the questions that is posed in Fluency. It’s a big question that cannot be answered well here, but I think that this is an urgent instinct that is based on a conscious love of humanity in all our diversity.

LR: Who are your dancers for this work and how did you find/select them?

PC: Billy Marchenski is a wonderful actor/dancer who can handle very complex spoken and danced interplay at a virtuosic level, and he’s funny and charismatic.

Alison Denham, who happens to be Billy’s partner, is a beautiful and technically-endowed dancer who is empathetic to my work and where it is coming from.

I am dancing myself, and have chosen myself because I am the direct witness of the experiences in Nicaragua, which this work is about.

María Constanza Guzmán makes her professional debut in a dance piece in Fluency. She is a professor of comparative literature and translation at York University, and she will give her erudite analysis of the efforts of Peter Chin to become Nicaraguan.

This interview has been edited for length and content.


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