TRIASPORA: Water, Fire, Air and the Chinese-Canadian history and identity

TRIASPORA: Water, Fire, Air and the Chinese-Canadian history and identity

Mixing live dance, music, mixed media images and spoken word in a way that hasn't done before can be very cool… or hit and miss.   There were plenty of hits and misses last night at the Chan Centre Telus theatre for the Triaspora – the ambitious collaborative project spearheaded by Lan Tung, with her Orchid Ensemble, Moving Dragon dance theatre's Chengwin Wei and Jessica Jone, and mixed media artists Kenneth Newby and Aleksandra Dulic.

The concept was to explore Chinese Canadian history, through elemental themes of Air, Water and Fire while recognizing the key anniversaries of the 1907 anti-Asian riot, the 1947 Citizenship recognition and end of the head tax/Exclusion Act era, the 1967 change to immigration policy and the 1997 handover of Hong Kong.

Orchid Ensemble's performance was definitely virtuostic displaying not only their high skill levels but also their muscianship to improvise.  Chengwin Wei and Jessica Jone drew from their backgrounds in classical ballet, contemporary dance and traditional Chinese dance to create exciting blends of all three, as well as something uniquely their own.

For me the high point was a dance duet between Wei and Jone, in which Jone represented the Chinese traditions, and the physical town of Nanaimo's old Chinatown, while Wei represented the 1960 fire that destroyed the community buildings.  It was a conceptually exciting piece, augmented both by the thrilling music of Orchid Ensemble's multi-percussionist extraordinaire Jonathan Bernard. 

The large screen which had been playing images of Nanaimo's old Chinatown at the beginning, segued into dancing images of Wei – as if a fiery beast of evil.  An unseen choir of voices was soon heard. A silhouette of people singing and raising their arms as the fire consumed the buildings filled the screen.


After the performance, the artists and the music composers all took questions from the audience, describing their experiences working on the project.

This show repeats on Saturday, Sept 22, at 7:30pm
Chan Centre, Telus Theatre.

There is a reception following to meet the artists and purchase cds.

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