Yoshiko Chuma (New York/Japan)
Cutting-edge choreographer/ director/ Instigator / movement-explorer / performer Yoshiko Chuma continues a lifetime obsession with the mythology of danger. Landing in New York in 1976, Chuma settled in lower downtown Manhattan, labelled as a dangerous place to be at the time. Devoid of the culture and inflation you see before you now, Yoshiko managed to begin her career in lower Manhattan, spanning an impressive 41 year career to date. Creating over 100 productions, including company works, commissions and site-specific events, Chuma is constantly challenging the notion of performance for both audience and participants. Crossing physical and metaphorical borders along the way, quite literally, Chuma has placed herself in dangers way for the sake of art.
She has crossed the border between East and Central Europe in the earlier 90s, crossed the border to Palestine for over 10 years since 2005, the border between Albania and Kosovo in 2007, the border to Afghanistan in 2014, the border to Maracaibo, Venezuela in 2014 among many more. Forbidden realms for some but centers of creation for Chuma, as her visits to these locations challenge preconceived ideas of danger and have brought about some of the most beautiful experiences. Chuma intentionally proposes to confuse documentation with history, recreating segments from her own documented events. She never gives herself any boundaries or let them interfere with her work. Making art is not her intention at all. All of her efforts are oriented towards giving to performances that have never been seen before. Having received no formal dance training, she pursues spontaneous and experimental techniques and methods of construction. Her creative process begins with single movement (dance) or abstract image conveyed to her film making pattern. She once presented a crumpled piece of drowning to her team and requested a single movement that expressed similar qualities. Project after project, year after year, she upends conventional notions of dance and disrupts accepted characteristics of performance. Her performances not only stand apart from the genealogy of dance but also resist definition and confound interpretation – endless peripheral borders.
Adham Hafez (New York/Cairo/Berlin)
Choreographer, composer and performer, Adham Hafez studied contemporary dance at the Cairo Opera House before he moved to Amsterdam for his Master in Choreography, at the Amsterdam Theatre School. With a Master degree in political science from SciencePo (Paris), Hafez his work tilts towards studying what political art is at times of catastrophic change, having studied with Bruno Latour the impact of the human on nature; physically, artistically and politically. Awarded for his work as a choreographer, composer and cultural entrepreneur, Hafez is currently a PhD candidate at New York University, completing a 15 years research on Arab performance history. His company’s latest productions were presented at MoMA PS1 (New York), Hebbel Am Ufer (Berlin), and ImpulsTanz (Vienna). Adham Hafez publishes in Arabic and English on Arab art history and performance theory. Hafez is the founder and program director of “HaRaKa”, the first movement and performance research project in Egypt. He is also the artistic director for the “TransDance” festival series and the founder of “Cairography”, the first publication in Egypt dedicated to critical writing on choreography and performance.
Yin Mei (China/New York)
Yin Mei, who has been a professional dancer since the age of 14, when she joined the Henan Province Dance Company in her native China. Yin Mei has been choreographing and performing contemporary works worldwide since coming to the United States in 1985. She formed Yin Mei Dance in 1995. In Yin Mei’s vision, the company’s purpose is to touch people through performance—indeed, to offer work that goes beyond performance, offering and evoking a personal, even spiritual connection between performers and the audience.
Yin Mei sees her work as both traditional and experimental, as drawing on classical sources while willing at the same time to subvert them. Employing Chinese energy direction and spatial principles as a means of creating dance within the rubric of contemporary dance theater, Yin Mei’s goal as a choreographer and performer is to make visible through dance the inner world that lies beneath the surface of everyday life—a parallel world beyond material purposes and goals, stemming from emptiness, filled with the mystery of life.
Danny Yung (Hong Kong)
A pioneer of experimental performance, video and installation art in the Sinophone region, and the Co-artistic Director of Zuni Icosahedron – Hong Kong’s leading experimental arts company. Yung is the Fukuoka Prize Laureate – Arts and Culture (2014), the recipient of the Hong Kong Arts Development Awards 2015 Artist of the Year (Drama), the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2009), and of the UNESCO Music Theatre NOW Award (2008).
Over the years, Danny and Zuni have been the key drivers in Hong Kong behind the organization of the City-to-City Conference, bring together Shanghai, Shenzhen, Taipei and Hong Kong with each of these four cities taking turns to host the conference. This year, he has extended the discussion with Belt and Road cities, which reserve a colour history in the midst of global modernization, by curating the Hong Kong Belt-Road-City-to-City Cultural Exchange Conference. Its aim is to promote arts and cultural exchanges and collaborations among the respective cities, and to provide an impetus to the new paradigm of multicultural interactions between the East and the West.