Peter Chin is an award-winning multidisciplinary artist born in Kingston, Jamaica and based in Toronto. He is active as a musician/composer, dancer/choreographer, performance artist, designer and director. He is the Artistic Director of Tribal Cracking Wind.
Peter was Now Magazine‘s Best of Toronto dancer/choreographer/designer in 2008. He won the 2006 Murriel Sherrin Award for International Achievement in Dance at the Toronto Mayor’s Arts Award and is a co-winner of the 2005 inaugural Interdisciplinary KM Hunter Award. He is also a Chalmers Fellowship recipient and his work has been awarded a prestigious Gemini Award for Best Performance in a performing arts program in Nick de Pencier’s film ‘Streetcar’, for which he choreographed, performed and composed the music. Peter received four Dora Mavor Moore Awards: Outstanding New Choreography for Stupa in 2005; Outstanding New Choreography for Northeastsouthwest in 1997; Outstanding New Choreography and Outstanding Performance for Bite in 2000. He has also been nominated three times: for Language in 1998, Ghost Train in 2001 and Transmission of the Invisible in 2008.
His musical training began at St. Michael’s Choir School in Toronto where he completed his A.R.C.T. in piano, grade X in organ, and began composing choral works, several of which were sung by the choir in the cathedral. At York University, he received his bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts studying painting, sculpture, video art and performance art. He also continued his musical training and began writing poetry under the tutelage of bp Nichol. Other teachers at York University included James Tenney, Vera Frenkel, Toby MacLennan and Casey Sokol.
Peter Chin lived in Java during the 1990s, studying and researching classical Indonesian dance and music, and aboriginal performing arts, both privately and under the auspices of the Department of Education and Culture of the Indonesian Government. In 2003, he did a five-month research residency at the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, studying classical Khmer dance and music in post-Khmer Rouge era, and Angkorian Temple architecture.
Peter’s works have been presented internationally and throughout Canada: at the Canada Dance Festival in Ottawa; Festival International de Nouvelle Danse in Montréal; Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival; the Peterborough Festival of the Arts; Dancing on the Edge in Vancouver; the Asian Heritage Month in Vancouver; St. John’s Sound Symposium; the Other Festival in Chennai, India; the Indonesian Dance Festival; the International Jakarta Festival (representing Canada); the National Gallery of Jamaica; Sutra’s Gerak Angin Festival in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; the Singapore Festival Fringe; the Ijsbreker Festival in Amsterdam, Holland; Lakhaon: Rencontre Internationale de Théâtre, Phnom Penh, Cambodia; and in Toronto among others with Harbourfront Centre World Stage, DanceWorks, INDE ’92 Toronto, Art in Open Spaces, the Gamelan Summit, the Shared Habitat Festival and Dances For a Small Stage. Peter has also toured fLight in Japan, a work he created with Tokyo dance artist Hideo Arai and German/Canadian visual artist Cylla von Tiedemann.
He is highly acclaimed as a choreographer throughout the dance community, as shown by the numerous commissions he has been offered, including: Dancemakers, Toronto Dance Theatre, the Harbourfront Centre for the Toronto Music Garden, the CanAsian Dance Festival where Chin created a solo for National Ballet of Canada’s Chan Hon Goh, Canada’s only orchestra devoted solely to contemporary repertoire Esprit Orchestra, Fujiwara Dance Inventions, Yvonne Ng‘s Princess Productions, Erasga Dance Society, Red Sky, Kate Alton’s Overall Dance, Bill James, Marie-Josée Chartier, bharatanatyam dancer Hari Krishnan, ArrayMusic, Dancers for Life, the Moving Pictures Festival, the School of Toronto Dance Theatre, Canadian Childrens’ Dance Theatre, TILT sound+motion, the York University Dance Ensemble and Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People.
Peter Chin has collaborated with a great many artists in projects that have involved a wide range of arts disciplines. These include Katherine Duncanson, architect Derrik Revington, performance artist Nobuo Kubota, composer John Oswald, Coleman Lemieux & compagnie, bharatanatyam dance artist and arts producer Anita Ratnam, pianist/composer Lee Pui Ming, shakuhachi master Christopher Yohmei Blasedale and the aboriginal company Red Sky in a project involving composer Barbara Croall and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Peter has also worked with Canadian First Nations artists such as Raoul Trujillo, Jerry Longboat and Alejandro Ronceria.
Peter Chin has been the featured dancer/choreographer in the film ‘Tari Rickshaw’ directed by Nick De Pencier, which won the Cinedance Award for Best Director at the 1998 Moving Pictures Festival in Toronto. He further collaborated with Nick De Pencier in ‘Streetcar’, a 30-minute film with photography by Peter Mettler and performances by Peter, Nobuo Kubota and a cast of nine dancers. Streetcar won the Gemini Award 2004 for Best Performance as well as the Dance and Media Snail Award, Grand Prix, Tokyo, and was nominated for a Banff Rockie Award. In 2005, Peter was the featured dancer/choreographer in the film ‘No Man’s Land’ by director Alexandre Oktan, which won the Dance Camera West Choreography Media Honors 2007 in Los Angeles. Peter was also one of the choreographers selected for the inaugural season of ‘Freedom’: a series of documentaries portraying Canadian dance artists.
In February 2008, Tribal Crackling Wind’s Cambodia/Canada co-production ‘Transmission of the Invisible’ premiered at the prestigious Harbourfront Centre international series WorldStage. It will tour across Canada, Singapore and Cambodia.
Here is a short list of works by Peter Chin, including choreography for film, theatre and original dance/music works:
- 2008 | Transmission of the Invisible (70 minutes) Cambodia-Canada co-production, choreography, music and costume by Peter Chin, five dancers, video Cylla von Tiedemann, music / sound design Garnet Willis, set David Duclos, lighting Arun Srinivasan, presented by Harbourfront Centre WorldStage 2008, at the Enwave Theatre in Toronto
- 2006 | Mind’s Hammer (25 minutes solo) choreography, music and performance by Peter Chin, music commissioned and played by Evergreen Gamelan, at the Isabel Bader Theatre Toronto
- 2005 | Stupa (75 minutes) choreography, music, costumes and text by Peter Chin, for seven dancers, eight musicians and one meditator, presented by Danceworks at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre, Toronto. Winner of a Dora Mavor Award for best original choreography.
- 2005 | Berdandan (30 minutes) choreography and music, with Indonesian master dancer Didik Nini Thowok, live music by 20 artists: gamelan musicians from Gamelan Toronto, guests and choir, at the Premiere Dance Theatre, Toronto
- 2004 | My Peers into the future (10 minutes) commission by Canadian Childrens’ Dance Theatre, choreography and music by Peter Chin, at the Winchester Street Theatre, Toronto. Peter Chin was choreographer in residence at CCDT for 2003–2004.
- 2004 | Ritual with frogs, butterflies and others (15 minutes) commission by TILT Sound+Motion, choreography and music by Peter Chin, at the Winchester Street Theatre, Toronto.
- 2004 | Streetcar (30 minutes film) director/producer: Nick de Pencier, choreography by Peter Chin for 11 performers, music by Peter Chin and Garnet Willis. Winner of a Gemini Award for best performance in the performing arts program.
- 2003 | Nocturne (12 minutes) commission by Esprit Orchestra, dance and choreography by Peter Chin, music by Colin McPhee, at the St. Lawrence Centre, Toronto
- 2003 | Dancing Americas (45 minutes) commission by Red Sky Performance (aboriginal dance theatre company), choreography by Peter Chin for six dancers, at the DuMaurier Theatre Centre. Top 10 selection for best dance work in the Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star
- 2002 | Converse (25 minutes) commission by Toronto Dance Theatre, choreography, music and costumes by Peter Chin, for 13 dancers, at the Premiere Dance Theatre, Toronto
- 2001 | Wilderness Extempore, as part of the 25th Sutra Festival, in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, full evening of three solo works with choreography, music, costume and dance by Peter Chin
- 2001 | Bridge (65 minutes) choreography, music and costumes, for six dancers, film installation in collaboration with Nick DePencier, and live performances by 20 musicians: Gamelan Toronto, choir and Hands On (West African Drumming ensemble), at the DuMaurier Theatre Centre, Toronto
- 2001 | VibREDtion (10 minutes) commission by CanAsian Dance Festival, choreography and music by Peter Chin for Chan Hon Goh (National Ballet of Canada), at the Betty Oliphant Theatre, Toronto
- 2000 | DAG (16 minutes) choreography and music by Peter Chin, solo danced by Peter Chin, premiered at The Other Festival in Chennai India
- 2000 | fLight (50 minutes) international co-production with Tokyo artist Hideo Arai and visual artist Cylla von Tiedemann, created in residency in Kyushu Japan, touring four centres in Japan and then presented by Shared Habitat Festival in Toronto, choreography by Peter Chin and Hideo Arai, music by Peter Chin and Mika Shibue
- 1999 | Hutan Belantara (20 minutes solo) choreography, music, costume and performance by Peter Chin, for Festival International de Nouvelle Danse, Tangente Theatre, Montréal
- 1999 | BITE (65 minutes) choreography, music and costumes by Peter Chin for six dancers and 12 musicians, presented by Danceworks, at the DuMaurier Theatre Centre, Toronto. Winner of a Dora Mavor Award for both best original choreography and for best performance in Dance for the ensemble.
- 1998 | Inirian (40 minutes) a commission by Canada Dance Festival, for six dancers and four musicians, choreography, music and costumes by Peter Chin, National Arts Centre Theatre, Ottawa.
- 1996 | Northeastsouthwest (55 minutes) choreography and music (with John Oswald), and costumes by Peter Chin, for five dancers, at the Dancemakers Studio Toronto, winner of the Dora Mavor Moore award for best original choreography
- 1995 | Southwestnortheast (20 minutes) choreography and music by Peter Chin for four dancers, representing Canada at the International Jakarta Festival, Gedung Kesenian Theatre, Jakarta
Videos by Peter Chin
Transmission of the Invisible
‘Transmission of the Invisible’ is a stunning new project by Artistic Director Peter Chin featuring dancers Sean Ling, Andrea Nann, Heidi Strauss, Phon Sopheap (Cambodia) and Yim Savann (Cambodia); video by Cylla von Tiedemann, sound installation by Garnet Willis, lighting design by Arun Srinivasan and set design by David Duclos. Nominated for the Dora Mavor Moore Award Outstanding Sound Design/Composition in 2008, the work premiered in February 2008 at the Enwave Theatre in Toronto and toured to Western Canada in January 2009.
The cultural and human losses of the Khmer Rouge era in Cambodia forms the background to this work, but with a primary focus on the subsequent recovery and rebuilding, especially of the arts, that started in the 1980s. ‘Transmission of the Invisible’ was initially inspired by watching an aged classical Cambodian dance teacher as she instructed her student in an almost lost classical work (since with the deaths of approximately 90 percent of artists, much repertoire had been lost with them). With a searching eye for what lay beneath the gestures between the teacher and student, Peter Chin has created a work that meditates on how we pass on to one another the unseen essence of a people that is contained and distilled in the cultural forms of that society. By extension of this theme, ‘Transmission of the Invisible’ is also about the way that strange and seemingly impenetrable parts of a foreign culture can nevertheless connect and resonate within our psyches by mysterious routes.
Choreography, music, costumes and text by Peter Chin.
A stupa is a Buddhist monument in the form of a dome or bell-shaped building. The piece, inspired in part by Buddhist temple architecture and South East Asian theatre, conjures a world populated by wrathful demons and benign deities. Integrating dramatic full-body dance movement and precise facial choreography with vocalization techniques from many eastern cultures, ‘Stupa’ explores the notion of sacred space in both the physical and metaphysical realms as well as the sanctity of the human body and spirit.
Inspired by Chin’s years of work and research in Asia, ‘Stupa’ is evocative of Asian dramas where performers are equally skilled in voice and movement; but is decidedly a contemporary and international stage work.
Seven outstanding dance artists perform this riveting work: Piotr R. Biernat, Yves Candau, Susanna Hood, Mark Johnson, Hiroshi K. Miyamoto, Yvonne Ng and Carolyn Woods along with performance artist Katherine Duncanson who meditates on stage throughout the piece, reflecting one of its major themes.
The live music is an intriguing blend of eastern and western instruments and scales, performed by Debashis Sinha, Mark Duggan and Nur Intan Murtadza (percussion and Javanese gamelan instruments), Scott Good (trombone), Kathleen Kajioka (violin), Peter Pavlovsky (bass) and Andrew Timar (Indonesian flutes and zithers). Other talented collaborators for ‘Stupa’ are Guillaume Bernardi (Dramaturgy) and Arun Srinivasan (Lighting Design).
Berdandan (Indonesian word meaning grooming, personal embellishment, dress up, get dressed, decorated, made elaborate) is a live theatrical event co-choreographed by Peter Chin and celebrated Indonesian artist Didik Nini Thowok. A classical dancer/choreographer, expert in styles from West Java, Central Java and Bali, Didik is one of few dancers who continue the long Asian tradition of cross-gender dance roles.
The piece features dramaturgy by Guillaume Bernardi, a live on-stage video installation by visual artist Cylla von Tiedemann and is accompanied by Gamelan Toronto, a full central Javanese court gamelan involving 20 musicians, with musical direction by master Javanese court musician Setya Sutrisno Hartana.
‘Berdandan’ explores the moments of transformation, as Didik becomes the female performer of the famous Golek Lambang Sari dance. It is from the classical Javanese repertoire and portrays a young girl putting on make-up, dressing, and adopting the poses of an adult woman. An old Javanese song depicts a transgender tradition in the courts: a prince was invited to perform in the Mangkunegaran palace of Surakarta and danced Golek Lambangsari. The song describes the beauty of his dance movement and his face, such that the men in the audience did not recognize that he was a man, and in a state of enchantment followed him to the dressing room, only then discovering that he was a man.
Peter Chin’s work has been awarded a prestigious Gemini Award for Best Performance in a Performing Arts Program in Nick de Pencier’s film ‘Streetcar’, for which he choreographed, performed and composed the music.