Cambodian Dancers with Peter Chin’s Dance Company, The Crackling Wind. Photo courtesy of The Crackling Wind.
The Dance of Mortals
If Apsara is of the realm of the divine and the immortals, then Peter Chin embodies this earth and the suffering body of the ordinary mortal, whose concern is to fight and defend the complexities of life and what it entails in the natural and physical realm of contemporary existence. There’s solitude. There’s a process of worship. The ritualistic form calling out the spirits in and out of the body. There’s the gross atmosphere of anger and hatred. There’s love the body yearns for. There’s connection mortals long for in order to reach the divine. There’s sadness and joy. There’s madness swirling in the air we breathe. The lungs soak it all. The body is a storage space for memory of pain and pleasure. The celestial is all within the expressive embodiment of man. He can dance his way out of anything. He can invoke the gods or demons. He can politicize the gestures, tear down the traditional forms and speak with a different set of vocabulary. Free verses in poetry. Stretch and extend the notion of form. Follow the crackling of wind, like a campfire pops and flares into fireflies.
Peter Chin is a Jamaican-born, Toronto-based choreographer/dancer, composer/musician, designer, director, and artistic director of the highly respected and much sought after interdisciplinary company Tribal Crackling Wind. His works have been presented all over the world with many accolades and awards for his work.
Peter is now based in Cambodia, having researched, created, and lived there continually since 2003. He was due back in Toronto in March 2020, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he has been staying in Cambodia, waiting for the right time to return to Canada to raise needed money to finish his international dance and art center being built in the bucolic countryside of Siem Reap. He needs our help and support. This is the website www.nkkdancecentre.com, and also there is information on Facebook at NKK Dance Centre.
An important contemporary dance company, Tribal Crackling Wind (TCW) brought to Cambodia an array of possibilities in the realm of dance beyond the traditional forms, the Apsara in the royal palace, the celestial dancers and yoginis carved onto the bas-relief of Angkor Wat, the tales and stories of ancient kings battling for the sky. Here, the dancers create, imagine the body in all sorts of situations, even in the form of dreams or nightmares, the dancers inhabit a modern space of life on earth, historically speaking, to the relevancy of contemporary life.
When I see Peter’s dances, I want to dance, too. My natural physical movements, so natural and innate in me, wish to bend and flow as fluidly in the wind as his choreography, coming from his global reputation of creating dance organically from the places he lives and interacts with. He has worked with local Khmer artists for 18 years now, resulting in many performances with Khmer artists both in Siem Reap and in Phnom Penh, across Canada, and in Jamaica, Colombia, Singapore, USA, Mexico, Thailand, Malaysia, and Taiwan. He brought his international experiences from an array of lenses to help and inspire Cambodians to move a bit outside of the traditional box. One can take the body beyond a mere vessel into the spiritual, the ritualistic madness of confinement and soar, liberating into higher art, a higher realm of listening and taking into the body, the sound of wind, earth, and fire, that Khmers had already known within them. They just needed a spark to unleash this spirit from within. Peter has been that man, who now, during the pandemic, is soaking in the tourist-emptied temples, dancing, sharing videos of himself inhaling and exhaling the air of true peace —- the silent air of Covid-19 is a way he focuses on the construction of his NKK International Dance Center, where he creates new choreography with local dancers he has worked with over the years.
He needs our help and support. To donate toward his effort, go here:
https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/14913 And please specify ‘for NKK Dance Centre’
There are wonderful videos to discover about Peter Chin and his dance company on his website and Facebook site. Here is a charming video featuring Rasy Hul and his nieces and nephews in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Filmed in 2020 and choreographed by Peter Chin for Kaeja d’Dance