Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ping Chong

Ping Chong, Asian-American theatre director, choreographer, video and installation artist, was born in Toronto Canada in 1946 and grew up in New York's Chinatown. He attended Pratt Institute, School of the Visual Arts and after film school Chong's focus changed. Instead of concentrating on the specialized world of film making, he decided to merge several art forms. He began to study dance with Meredith Monk and collaborated with her often. Like Monk, Chong's work is not easily classifiable, he often has themes of loneliness and alienation driven by awkward erratic movements or sustained stillness.

Chong's first independent theatre work, Lazarus, opened with slides of a street and stairwell of a tenement building. There was a set consisting of a set table and a flower. Lazarus enters with his head wrapped up in medical bandaging and a letter from a woman is read while he eats. His work is often considered to be voyeuristic, somehow eerie and unnerving to watch.

He formed Ping Chong and Company in 1972, Chong is thought to be able to locate the darkness in Western culture with theatrical clarity without criticizing the West itself. His introduction to Nuit Blanches read, "As a young I felt like I was sitting on a fence staring at two cultures. You go out into the bigger world and start looking at it with the kind of objectivity and anthropologist has." Chong is successful in his art because he has the gift of storytelling, a precious and rare gift.

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