Yvonne Ng is the artistic director of the dance: made in canada/fait au canada Festival. With a focus on Canadian choreographers who possess unique artistic visions and come from all cultural backgrounds, the festival features nine groups from across the country in its MainStage series, as well as five female-created companies in its What-You-See-Is-What-You Get (WYSIWYG) series, as well as a film series and art exhibits.

Yvonne is also the recent 2017 winner of the prestigious Muriel Sherrin Award for International Achievement given out biennially at the Mayor’s Arts Lunch by the Toronto Arts Foundation for outstanding contribution to the arts.

We caught up with her this week. 

SDTC: You’ve worn a lot of hats – dancer, choreographer, educator, producer, etc. Which role comes to you most easily? 

YN: Probably dancer and choreographer. I love working and speaking through movement, through my body.

How would you describe the work you do with your dance company Tiger Princess

Most recently I have taken a lot of inspiration from my mum. She is slowly sliding into dementia and it’s a difficult time for her (she has some comprehension of what is going on) and for the rest of the family. She also had an interesting life – she was given away as an infant, survived the Japanese occupation of Singapore in WWII as a child and was the senior “local” employee for an American firm in the 1980s.

When did you realize that a life in the performing arts was your destiny?

Not to be facetious, but I haven’t. I’m still working at what is my destiny – it’s ongoing.

Photo by Sean Howard

What is your advice to other young women who are starting out their careers in choreography / dance / performance?

I am really hesitant to give blanket advice, so perhaps my first piece of advice would be to seek lots of it from a range of sources. To answer your question more directly, I can only say what I found beneficial in my career. When I was working as a dancer/interpreter, I really benefited from working for several different choreographers – each with distinct choreographic voices. I am not suggesting that you take any job that comes your way, but (and again this is only from my perspective) at an early stage of your career, experiencing different choreographic voices can help you to grow.

If you’re working on choreography, keep practicing at making choreography – keep making work and showing your work, even if it is to a small group of people. Get feedback, hear them out, but trust your own instinct first.

Pay yourself first. If you have to go through the manual process of putting the money in the bank and then donating it back to the project, go through the exercise. It will give you clarity on where you are. Also save some money – even if it’s a few cents – and don’t touch it. That’s your rainy day savings or long-term savings.

If you decide to become a dance artist, your artistic practice never ends (i.e., continue training, learning, trying different techniques – flexible mind and articulate body). You could just apply this to your daily life.

What is your mantra these days?

I’m soooo tired…just kidding! ☺ Here’s my answer: Why not now? And understanding impermanence – letting go.

dance: made in canada/fait au canada Festival runs August 17-21 at the Betty Oliphant Theatre (404 Jarvis St). Get tickets here