Choreographer and artistic director William Yong brings his unique approach to dancemaking in Eden Planted. Rooted in original movement and new media experimentation, this much anticipated creation contemplates the reconstruction of paradise in an age of rapid scientific and technological developments. Here, we speak with William about the upcoming world premiere.
DanceWorks: Can you tell us about the title Eden Planted?
William: Eden Planted contemplates ‘the fall of man’ reversed, the concept of returning to a new paradise in our technological age. To me, Eden Planted is an exercise in futurology, an anthropology of mutants.
DanceWorks: Can you tell us more about futurology and the anthropology of mutants?
William: The making of Eden Planted is like a study of the future, and draws from theology and ideas related to the origin, nature, and destiny of human beings. We are looking at a hypothetical future, and within a few generations our world will be populated by organisms and humans with scientist-edited genomes.
In science, everything that is possible is inevitable. Eden Planted is inspired by both the benefits and detriments that impact humanity caught between the press of technological and social change, and how humans adapt with imagination, resourcefulness, and stoicism.
DanceWorks: Your previous two works vox:lumen and Steer explore ideas of ecology and technology. Is Eden Planted connected to those previous works?
William: My work is often characterized as a reflection of the conflicts between futurology, technology, and humanity. This creation of Eden Planted builds upon the body of earlier work both in concept and in form. My previous two major full-length productions were vox:lumen (a self-powered dance show hailed as the largest sustainability experiment staged in Canadian dance) and Steer (an integration of three sensory technology frameworks into one live show). Eden Planted now forms a triptych of imagery taken from ecology, technology and biology. Eden Planted will further technological risk-taking and the challenges we create for ourselves and fellow artists.
DanceWorks: Can you describe your creative process?
William: For me, curiosity of the body and its inner motives serve as the starting point for creating. I want to create movement that is viewed as self-sufficient, communicates a message, and is capable of creating a sense of a different time and space.
In my creative practice, I do not fall for creative formulas. I am constantly finding new ways to create material. I am always interested in humanity – the urges, drives, thoughts, feelings, and fears that we share as a remarkably homogeneous species.
I love to make good use of other inter-art forms to engage the mind. Zata Omm and I have built a tremendous base of knowledge and experience through our previous dance and technology research programs. The capacity to develop our choreographic works through researching the relationship between movement and new media technologies is profoundly powerful, rewarding, and risky. With restraint, clear thinking, and precise implementation, the two can be moulded into a new integrated medium of expression and a compelling piece of dance art.
I hope you will get to see Eden Planted.
DanceWorks: Thank you, William.
DanceWorks will present Zata Omm’s Eden Planted February 5-8, 2020 at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre at 8pm. Information and tickets available here.
Images by David Hou