REAson d’etre dance productions presents
Dancing with the Universe
Dancing with the Universe, premiering April 12 to 18, 2020 at the Betty Oliphant Theatre in Toronto, is a dance theatre production adaption of Vivian Chong's one-woman show The Sunglasses Monologue. The production is co-directed by Vivian Chong and choreographer Kathleen Rea with dramaturge by Tristan Whiston. It tells Vivian's life story and is performed by Vivian Chong alongside an ensemble cast of six dancers and cellist Cheryl Ockrant. The show features Vivian’s drawings, her original songs and collaborative compositions with Cheryl Ockrant. Dancing with the Universe is a multi-disciplinary journey of human emotions—a story of vulnerability and strength that shines a light on loss and grief.
In2005, Vivian Chong experienced a rare reaction to Ibuprofen that caused third-degree skin burns over her entire body. She was put in a medically induced coma for two months. Upon waking, she had to relearn how to breathe, eat and walk. She was not told that her reaction to Ibuprofen would eventually cause complete loss of sight. As her vision deteriorated, she accepted her sight-loss and learned new ways to navigate her environment using a white cane. In 2007 she realized the reaction to Ibuprofen was still unfolding when she woke up one morning with severe hearing loss that required the use of hearing aids. She eventually had surgery that replaced her eardrum and most of her hearing returned, however, the quality of sound was forever different.
Her experience of losing two senses and the extreme isolation this caused, led her to turn inwards and re-discover herself as an artist through dancing, writing, pottery, stand-up-comedy, singing, drumming, ukulele, piano, and music composition. With these various disciplines, she created a one-woman show, The Sunglasses Monologue. Her sense of humour and ability to laugh at her situation played a huge role in her emotional healing and defined her as an artist. Vivian’s courageous vulnerability influences people who experience her work to embrace their human experience and to understand the power they have within them.
When Vivian was in the process of losing her sight, she was driven to document her medical experiences through drawing. She created the first 100 pages of a graphic memoir before sight loss made it impossible to draw further. This draft languished on her shelf for twelve years, until she met dance-theatre director/choreographer Kathleen Rea. As part of their research for Dancing with the Universe, Vivian shared her drawings with Kathleen who was deeply moved by the images. Together they found comic artist Georgia Webber who collaborated with Vivian to bring the rest of her story to the page. Vivian’s graphic memoir Dancing After TEN will be published by Fantagraphics and images from the book appear in the Dancing with the Universe production. The book launch will take place on April 12, 2020 at the matinee performance of Dancing with the Universe.
Vivian’s one-woman show The Sunglasses Monologue has received rave reviews.
"An amazing experience. Through music, drama, laughter, and tears, Vivian squeezes your heart and shares her joy." - Brian Green
"Vivian takes you on a dynamic journey of heartfelt surprise, leaving you to marvel at the tenderness and fortitude of the human spirit." - Barbara Young
"Courageous and inspiring. You pushed our emotions every which way, and left us wanting more! Bravo!" - Shirley Yanover
TEAM for “Dancing with the Universe”:
Story: Vivian Chong
Co-Direction: Vivian Chong and Kathleen Rea
Choreography: Kathleen Rea
Dramaturge and Lighting: Tristan Whiston
Monologue Text: Vivian Chong
Dance-theatre Script Arrangement: Vivian Chong, Kathleen Rea and Tristan Whiston
Original Songs: Vivian Chong
Original music and performance: Vivian Chong (Piano, Ukulele and Vocalization) and Cheryl Ockrant (Cello and Vocalization)
Recorded music: 100% WoOL album Monkey Vs. Panda (artists Vivian Chong and Serge)
Ensemble: Vivian Chong, Brayden Cairns, Hannah Drover, Karen Kaeja, Ben Landsberg, Emily LeBlanc, Suzanne Liska, Elise Tiggs
Drawings: Vivian Chong with some backgrounds by Georgia Webber and with colour additions by Chelsea Wirtz
Props, Puppets and Costumes: Kathleen
Animation: Sabrina Simmons
Voice Coaching: Anthony Bergamin
Video editing: Kathleen Rea
Producer: Kathleen Rea
Produced by: REAson d'etre dance productions www.reasondetre.com
Thursday, April 9 at 8 pm - Dancing with the Universe Opening Night Production
Friday, April 10 at 8 pm - Dancing with the Universe Production
Sunday, April 12 at 3 pm - Dancing with the Universe Production and Dancing After TEN Book Launch.
RELAXED PERFORMANCE. Audience lights will not be fully dimmed. People may come and go as they please. An announcement will be made about possible triggers and letting people know they may "stim" during the show by making noises or moving.
ASL INTERPRETATION provided for this performance.
AUDIO-DESCRIPTION provided for this performance (Please contact email@example.com to get on the list for a headset if you would like to have audio-description).
Friday, April 17at 8 pm - Dancing with the Universe Production
Saturday, April 18 at 8 pm - Dancing with the Universe Production Closing Night
Betty Oliphant Theatre, 404 Jarvis Street, Toronto (Wheelchair accessible. Please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are attending in a wheelchair so we can reserve a good seat for you)
This project received project funding from the Canada Council for the Arts. REAson d’etre dance production currently receives operation funding from the Toronto Arts Council.
Ashley Belmer https://www.b-rebelcommunications.com/
Dancing with the Universe Production Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/437940663749451/
RDDP Web Site: www.reasondetre.com
RDDP Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/reasondetredance/ @reasondetredance
RDDP Twitter: https://twitter.com/REAson_detre @REAson_detre
RDDP Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/reasondetredance/ @reasondetredance
Dancing After TEN Toronto Book Launch Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/629570887854389/