Dancing with the Universe is a dance theatre production co-directed by Vivian Chong and choreographer Kathleen Rea with dramaturge Tristan Whiston. It tells Vivian’s life story of losing her sight due to a rare reaction to ibuprofen and her journey to rediscover herself as a multidisciplinary artist and athlete. Chong performs in the production alongside an ensemble cast of six dancers and cellist Cheryl Ockrant. Dancing with the Universe is an interdisciplinary journey of human emotions that shines a light on loss, grief and resilience. Through her sense of humour and by moving towards that which she loves to do, Chong has fully found her voice as a multidisciplinary artist.
There will be a book launch, signing and book sale for Vivian Chong’s graphic memoir Dancing after TEN after the Saturday, April 23 performance. An audio-described version of Dancing After TEN is available through celalibrary.ca.
About Vivian Chong – Co-Director, Lead Performer, Original Music
Vivian Chong’s first love is drawing. Ever since she could hold a pencil, she drew night and day. After graduation from the University of Toronto (undergraduate degree in Fine Arts) and Humber College (post-graduate diplomas), she worked as a graphic designer, video editor and 3-D animator. After a medical accident left her without sight and damaged her eardrums, she experienced a creative rebirth. She became a medal-winning triathlete, an access-focused yoga instructor, motivational speaker, potter, musician, dancer and performer. Chong was named The Female Athlete of the Year by Achilles Canada and trains regularly as a triathlete with her guide promoting accessible ways of racing in the triathlete community. Chong is part of the Brazilian percussion ensemble Samba Elégua and has performed regularly in community events in Toronto. In 2016, she created and performed a one-woman show, The Sunglasses Monologue, which toured in Canada. The Sunglasses Monologue was part of the Next Stage Theatre Festival in January 2022. Chong’s graphic memoir Dancing After TEN was short-listed for The Toronto Book Awards in 2020. Recently she collaborated with choreographer Kathleen Rea to create Dancing with the Universe, a dance-theatre production starring Chong and a cast of six dancers and a musician. She is also featured in two documentaries, A Whole New Light and Ripples by Accessible Media Incorporated and appears in the children’s book Claire Wants a Boxing Name with her guide dog, Catcher. Chong and Catcher often hike together and trek the entire 275 kilometers of the Oak Ridges Trail through rain and shine.
About Kathleen Rea – Co-Director, Choreographer
Kathleen Rea danced with Canada’s Ballet Jörgen, National Ballet of Canada and Tiroler Landestheater (Austria). She fell in love with Contact Improvisation (CI) 21 years ago and has been involved in the CI community ever since. She has choreographed over 40 dance works and has five nominations for DORA awards. Rea has a learning disability that has meant that writing takes four to eight times longer for her than for the average person. It is one of life’s great surprises and mysteries for her that despite this struggle she developed a love of writing and is a published author of The Healing Dance, as well as a blog and academic writing. With a Master in Expressive Arts, she has a passion for functional movement and is a teacher of the Axis Syllabus. Rea has been on the faculty of George Brown Dance program for the past twenty years and is also the Director of REAson d’etre dance productions, a not-for-profit contact improvisation-based dance company that produces weekly dance jams in Toronto. Being on the autism spectrum, she also identifies as being neuro-atypical and works to educate the world about neurodiversity.
About REAson d’etre
REAson d’etre dance productions strive to provide artistic expression through movement, inclusive of age, ability or level. They stage and program works based on Contact Improvisation to utilize the inclusiveness that can be a part of this dance form with a desire to inspire both professional dancers and everyday people. They believe that increasing accessibility breaks down barriers to dance, creating a humanity that is the heart of the artistic aesthetic they aim to achieve.
- Access the Visual Story.
- Listen to the Audio Description introductory notes.
- Dancing with the Universe is recommended for ages 14+.
- The show involves a depiction of a medical emergency, loss, and the stages of grieving through dance and animated drawings.
- The Fleck Dance Theatre is wheelchair accessible.
- Volunteers and Harbourfront Centre staff will be available to assist patrons with getting in and out of the theatre from the building entrance 30 minutes before and after each show and can provide Sighted Guide to patrons who require ‘Curb-to-Seat’ support.
- Both shows (April 23 and April 24) will be presented with live Audio Description. Audio Description equipment is limited and should be reserved in advance to avoid disappointment. Audio Description introductory notes will be given 10 minutes before the performance. Please arrive 20 minutes before showtime to pick up your receiver and earpiece.
- ASL Interpretation will be provided on Saturday, April 23 only.
- A Relaxed Performance is available on Sunday, April 24 only. For the Relaxed Performance, a visual story will be available, content warnings will be provided, house lights will dim slightly and audience members are welcome to come and go as needed. Sounds from the audience are welcome and expected.
- If you require a wheelchair-accessible seat, audio description equipment, or Sighted Guide ‘Curb-to-Seat’ service, please contact the box office by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (416) 973-4000 and choose option 1.
- If you have questions about the access features offered for this event, please contact Accessibility Coordinator Katherine Hale at email@example.com. or (416) 973-4960
Dates & Times
Follow signs and take escalator or elevator
207 Queens Quay West
Toronto ON M5J 1A7