February 8–10, 2024


Naishi Wang and Jean Abreu

Canada, United Kingdom | ONTARIO PREMIERE

Co-presented with DanceWorks. A unique dance event, co-performers and choreographers Naishi Wang and Jean Abreu fuse Mandarin and Brazilian-Portuguese spoken word with body expression for an arresting and emotional contemporary performance.


Naishi Wang (left), Jean Abreu (Right). Photo by Maya Yoncali

Torque International Contemporary Dance Series 23/24 logo


A compelling physical performance bringing together elements of Chinese folk, spoken word and Brazilian dance styles, Deciphers  explores the complexities of communication through the lens of understanding and misunderstanding. Co-performers and choreographers Naishi Wang and Jean Abreu use the stage as their blank canvas highlighting the body as a primal source of communication and carrier of meaning for an honest and dynamic new work. Addressing translation as a linguistic phenomenon centering on the immigrant experience, the result is a powerful physical journey demonstrating the extraordinary use of the body as a tool of linguistic expression. Harbourfront Centre hosts its Ontario premiere for its 2023-24 season of Torque. 

Deciphers is co-presented by Harbourfront Centre and DanceWorks. 

About Naishi Wang

Based in culturally diverse Toronto, and born in Changchun, China, mixed with Chinese, North Korean and Mongolian ancestry, Naishi Wang observes and studies the underlying motivations of the body’s movements and the emotions it conveys. Renowned for his exceptional improvisations, which he turns into incarnations of bodily meaning, Wang is also a practicing visual artist. His drawings, which take the form of dances on paper, echo his work in dance.   

Wang was part of the MAI (Montréal, Arts Interculturels) program in February 2019 and presented in Halifax and Hamburg, Germany. His solo Taking Breath demonstrated his interest in intimate forms of bodily communication, a subject he takes up again in the duet Face to Face, which focuses on our new modes of virtual communication and the factors that act in concert to convey our intentions in even the simplest exchanges. Wang is collaborating with UK-based artist Jean Abreu in Deciphers and a trio named Eyes, Wide Open. He is an Artist-in-Residency at the Citadel and has been awarded Les Respirations du FTA (2021), Small Scale Creation Fund from CanDance (2021) and Chalmers Arts Fellowship from Ontario Arts Council (2022).  

About Jean Abreu

Born in Brazil, Jean Abreu moved to London in 1996 after receiving a scholarship to study at Trinity Laban Conservatoire for Music and Dance. He received the Jerwood Choreography Award in 2003 following the creation of his first choreography, Hibrido. Since then, his work has toured throughout the UK, Europe, Brazil and China, including performances for Dance Umbrella, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Royal Opera House and Southbank Centre in London. Abreu’s movement practice comes from his ongoing interest in utilizing the body as a powerful tool to articulate arresting emotional and complex ideas through dance. Creative and digital technology has consistently featured within and challenged Abreu’s varied performance work.  

In 2009 he founded Jean Abreu Dance and has since collaborated with influential artists across multiple art forms, including rock band 65daysofstatic for Inside (2010), choreographer Jorge Garcia for Parallel Memories (2011), visual artists Gilbert and George for Blood (2013) and Brazilian sculptor and visual artist Elisa Bracher for A Thread (2016). His work Solo for Two toured across the UK in 2018, with further performances in China and Portugal in 2019. Abreu has taught in renowned dance organizations and universities extensively in the UK and abroad, including London Contemporary Dance School, London Studio Centre, Dance Base, International Festival of Morelos, Roger Williams University, New York University and Balance Arts Centre (China). He is a regular guest artist at Bath Spa University, Portsmouth University, University of Bath, Greenwich Dance and Beijing Dance Academy.  


Choreographers, Performers Naishi Wang, Jean Abreu Sound Design Olesia Onykiienko Lighting Design Lucie Bazzo Dramaturg Guy Cools Outside Eyes Ginelle Chagnon Rehearsal Director Xing Bang Fu Voice Coach Fides Krucker Access Consultant Zed Lightheart Technical Director Emerson Kafarowski Management Jean Abreu Dance, Dance Umbrella of Ontario 

Partners in Canada include MAI Montréal, Arts interculturels (Montréal), the National Arts Centre (Ottawa), Harbourfront Centre (Toronto),  Citadel+Company (Toronto), PuSh Festival (Vancouver), the CanDance Network (Toronto), and the High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom.  

Partners in the United Kingdom include Fabric (Nottingham), Towner Gallery (Eastbourne), Brighton Dome (Brighton), Eastbourne Council (Eastbourne), Take The Space (Eastbourne), and the Arts Council England. 

Deciphers is supported by the National Arts Centre (NAC) visiting dance artist programme, the CanDance Network small-scale creation fund, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Technical Residency programme at Harbourfront Centre, and the PuSh walk special podcast. 

Access Info

If you require wheelchair or accessible seating, please contact our Box Office ahead of time at tickets@harbourfrontcentre.com or phone (416) 973-4000, Option 1 – Wednesday–Friday from 1-5pm.

Dates & Times

February 8
60 mins

February 9
60 mins

February 10
60 mins

There will be no intermission for any performance.

There will be an opening reception following the performance on Thursday, February 8.

There will be a Q&A following the performance on Friday, February 9 hosted by moderator Nicole Inica Hamilton.

More Info

Portuguese, Chinese, English will be spoken during the performance. No subtitles provided.


Harbourfront Centre Theatre

231 Queens Quay West
Toronto, Ontario

Google Map

Keywords DancePerformance

*Conditions apply