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Dancer changes 'nest' performance at Port Coquitlam's Lions Park

Dancer, SFU graduate plays with stretch and strength in post–pandemic installation piece.

Sarah Hin Ching U created a dance after COVID locked down the world in 2020.

At the time, she was an undergraduate at Simon Fraser University (SFU) and wanted a performance piece to express the physical and mental state that people were struggling with.

But since restrictions have lifted, the Burnaby resident said Stratum has evolved to another transformative level: Shedding the layers of cocooning and moving to a new developmental stage that fine tunes artistry and technicality within a series of textile stripes.

Since April, U has been crafting her updated version of Stratum at Lions Park in Port Coquitlam as part of her work as the city's artist-in-residency program for the summer.

She told the Tri-City News she's grateful for the opportunity to produce the dance installation in such a large space because it "wouldn't have fit in a studio."

With fellow SFU dance grads Aynaz Parkas and Jacqueline Ritter, and Vancouver-based dancer Kaya Tsurumi, U will show her 30- to 45-minute dance in late September or October, when her residency ends.

U first learned about the city residency program after dancing for the artist in the inaugural program; she had mirrors placed around Lions Park for her performance.

For Stratum, though, Parkas made mesh and silk bands to wrap around trees to look like nests, allowing enough give in the material to shape the fabric through movement.

The elasticity in the stripes permit the dancers to "find elevation" with the updated piece, "and get off the floor. The dynamics are shifting. There's more excitement and a heightened tension in the body. It gives us more range to explore more dimensions."

"We are leaving physical marks on the textiles; it's like we are recording our directions….and we can see the past versions of ourselves. It's like a conversation."

U, who trained as a Latin and ballroom dancer in China and last year was a recipient of the Professional Performing Artist Award from the BC Arts Council, will be offering free creative workshops at Lions Park for children and adults this month.

The schedule is as follows:

  • July 21 and 28 (ages 3–8) at 4 p.m.
  • July 21 and 28 (ages 18 and up) at 6 p.m.

To save a space, you can visit the artist-in-residency page of the City of Port Coquitlam's website.