Dancing with the Universe, premiering April 12 to 18, 2020 at the Betty Oliphant Theatre in Toronto, is a dance theatre production adaption of Vivian Chong's one-woman show The Sunglasses Monologue. The production is co-directed by Vivian Chong and choreographer Kathleen Rea with dramaturge by Tristan Whiston. It tells Vivian's life story and is performed by Vivian Chong alongside an ensemble cast of six dancers and cellist Cheryl Ockrant. The show features Vivian’s drawings, her original songs and collaborative compositions with Cheryl Ockrant and is a true human story of vulnerability and strength.
In2005, Vivian Chong experienced a rare reaction to Ibuprofen which caused third degree skin burns on her entire body and she was put in a medically induced coma. Living through traumatic hospitalization she had to relearn how to breathe, eat and walk. No one told her the reaction would eventually cause complete loss of sight. Over time, she accepted her sight-loss and learned new ways to navigate her environment using a white cane. In 2007 she realized the reaction to Ibuprofen was still unfolding when she woke up one morning with severe hearing loss that required the use of hearing aids. She eventually had surgery that replaced her ear drum and most of her hearing returned, however the quality of sound was forever different.
Her experience of extreme isolation and losing two senses led her to turn inwards and re-discover herself as an artist through dancing, writing, pottery, stand-up-comedy, singing, drumming, ukulele, piano and music composition and by creating her one woman show The Sunglasses Monologue. Her sense of humour and ability to laugh at her situation has played a huge role in her emotional recovery and defined her as an artist. Vivian’s courageous vulnerability encourages people who experience her work to embrace their human experience.
When Vivian was in the process of losing her sight, she was driven to document her medical experiences through drawing. She created the first 100 pages of her graphic memoir before sight loss made it impossible to draw further. This draft languished on her shelf for twelve years, until she met dance-theatre director/choreographer Kathleen Rea. As part of their research for Dancing with the Universe, Vivian shared her drawings with Kathleen who was deeply moved by the images. Together they found comic artist Georgia Webber who collaborated with Vivian to bring the rest of her story to the page. Vivian’s graphic memoir Dancing After TEN, will be published by Fantagraphics. The book launch will take place April 12, 2020 at the matinee performance of Dancing with the Universe.
Vivian’s one woman show The Sunglasses Monologue has received rave reviews.
"An amazing experience. Through music, drama, laughter, and tears, Vivian squeezes your heart and shares her joy." - Brian Green
"Vivian takes you on a dynamic journey of heartfelt surprise, leaving you to marvel at the tenderness and fortitude of the human spirit." - Barbara Young
"Courageous and inspiring. You pushed our emotions every which way, and left us wanting more! Bravo!" - Shirley Yanover
TEAM for “Dancing with the Universe”:
Story: Vivian Chong
Co-Direction: Vivian Chong and Kathleen Rea
Choreography: Kathleen Rea
Dramaturge and Lighting: Tristan Whiston
Text: Vivian Chong wrote all her text in the show
Script writing and arrangement: Vivian Chong, Kathleen Rea and Tristan Whiston
Original Songs: Vivian Chong
Cellist and Vocals: Cheryl Ockrant
Piano, Ukulele and Vocals: Vivian Chong
Original music: Vivian Chong and Cheryl Ockrant
Ensemble: Vivian Chong, Hannah Abbot, Bryden Cairns, Karen Kaeja, Ben Landsberg, Emily LeBlanc Suzanne Liska, Elise Tiggs
Drawings: Vivian Chong with some backgrounds by Georgia Webber and with colour additions by Chelsea Wirtz
Props, Puppets and Costumes: Kathleen
Producer: Kathleen Rea
Produced by: REAson d'etre dance productions www.reasondetre.com
Thursday, April 9 at 8 pm - Dancing with the Universe Opening Night Production
Friday, April 10 at 8 pm - Dancing with the Universe Production
AUDIO DESCRIPTION provided for this performance. (Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the list for a headset if you would like to have audio-description). ASL INTERPRETATION provided for this performance
Sunday, April 12 at 3 pm - Dancing with the Universe Production and Dancing After TEN Book Launch. RELAXED PERFORMANCE. Audience lights will not be fully dimmed. People may come and go as they please. An announcement will be made about possible triggers and letting people know they may "stim" during the show by making noises or moving. AUDIO-DESCRIPTION provided for this performance (Please contact email@example.com to get on the list for a headset if you would like to have audio-description).
Thursday, April 16 at 8 pm - Dancing with the Universe Production
Friday, April 17at 8 pm - Dancing with the Universe Production
Saturday, April 18 at 8 pm - Dancing with the Universe Production Closing Night
Betty Oliphant Theatre, 404 Jarvis Street, Toronto (Wheelchair accessible. Please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are attending in a wheelchair so we can reserve a good seat for you)
This project received project funding from the Canada Council for the Arts. REAson d’etre dance production currently receives operation funding from the Toronto Arts Council.
Ashley Belmer https://www.b-rebelcommunications.com/
Dancing with the Universe Production Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/437940663749451/
RDDP Web Site: www.reasondetre.com
RDDP Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/reasondetredance/ @reasondetredance
RDDP Twitter: https://twitter.com/REAson_detre @REAson_detre
RDDP Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/reasondetredance/ @reasondetredance
Dancing After TEN Toronto Book Launch Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/629570887854389/
Dancing After TEN Graphic Memoir Facebook Page
Dancing After TEN Graphic Memoir Twitter: