For the amount of time dancer and choreographer Peter Chu has spent north of the 49th you would think he would automatically get Canadian citizenship. But while he isn’t about to give up his American passport anytime soon, he is happy to be referred to as an honorary Canuck.
“I definitely have a special affinity for Canada,” says Chu, who lists Ballet Jazz de Montreal, Vancouver-based Kidd Pivot and an upcoming third appearance at Dances for a Small Stage as highlights of his Canadian work.
But it is dancing as part of Celine Dion’s Vegas show from 2005 to 2007 that is his biggest Canadian connection, an experience he says will not soon forget.
“It was an experience of a lifetime that will stay with me forever,” says Chu from his home in Las Vegas, which perhaps ironically is now his basis of operations after having been on the move for the last five years.
“The one thing that I will always remember is how much Celine stressed the idea of family and community. To be able to work with Celine was a great thrill; she is such a genuine person.”
Following the close of Dion’s first Vegas show, Chu found himself in Los Angeles and as a guest choreographer gigs on the last two seasons of the television reality competition, So You Think You Can Dance. And while he still hasn’t heard if he will return for the show’s next season, he remains excited by what shows like that have done for dance.
“It might not be for everyone but [shows like SYTYCD are] are helping to get the art of movement out there to the masses on television,” says Chu. “I hope that dance has longevity on television.”
Finding himself on the road with his work much of the year, Chu returns to his second home in February, to be part of Dances for a Small Stage, an annual showcase of contemporary dance that takes place in an unconventional venue on, as the title suggests, a ridiculously small stage.
Dancing to Robin Thicke’s “Superman”, Chu’s piece “Someone to dance with” tells the story of his character’s search for someone to dance with.
“All he wants to do is offer his rose to that special someone,” explains Chu. “It is a feel-good movement based solo that Julie-anne [Small Stages Artistic Director Julie-anne Saroyan] thought would be a great fit for Valentine’s Day.”
Vancouver audiences will get a double-dose of Chu as he stays on to work once again with Kidd Pivot for a remount of The Tempest Replica at SFU Woodwards in March before going on a tour that will take him across Canada, Europe and the United States.
Dances for a Small Stage
13 -15 February 2014 @ 8pm
Ukranian Centre, 154 East 10th Avenue
An evening curated by Julie-anne Saroyan & Karissa Barry. Advance tickets are available online.