International Dance Day 2012





Sculptures become dance partners for Ziyian Kwan

By Gen Handley – WE Vancouver Published: April 18, 2012 2:00 PM

throwing coin

When dancer Ziyian Kwan was younger, her family would host parties, making soymilk while her father would tell guests’ fortunes with the ancient Chinese practice of I Ching.

As part of International Dance Day at the Scotiabank Dance Theatre, Kwan is channeling those memories into an interactive performance titled throwing coin squeezing soy. “I’m trying to pay respect to that tradition in a way that’s light-hearted,” she says, sitting at window-side table at Habit Lounge on Main Street. “Ultimately, I want to make a piece that’s a homage to what I experienced with him as child.”


 For close to 25 years, the Hong Kong native has been dancing, moving to people, objects and events that she finds inspiring. Along with childhood memories, the sculptures scattered around Vancouver parks have also motivated her work – she has created performance pieces around what others have created. “I think that’s a really beautiful way to respond to art — to allow whatever happens instinctively,” she says. “When I interact with the objects, people either pretend you’re not there or they totally get into it — that’s interesting.”


 It was through this process of “trespassing” into public art that Kwan developed a performance she will give as part of National Dance Week called, because the world is round. It takes place around the Engagement sculpture — the two massive diamond rings just south of English Bay. Kwan says “The imaginary world suddenly exists and I never know where my imagination intersects with somebody else’s imagination.”


 During Dance Week, Kwan will also be involved with a third performance called echoes at Kitsilano Beach Park with 21 French immersion students from Henry Hudson School. “They wrote a song about finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, in the natural environment,” she explains. “I’m going to plan something around that.”


So what does Kwan’s father think about the homage to her childhood memories? “When I told him about it, he said, ‘Very interesting,’” she says with a smile. “I don’t think he totally understands it, but he thinks it’s great.”


 National Dance Week takes place throughout the city from April 23 to 29; International Dance Day is April 29 at Scotiabank Dance Theatre. For more information visit