10 Questions with Sun Shang-Chi



Come April, contemporary dance group T.H.E Dance Company will be presenting “Triple Bill” – works from three acclaimed male Asian choreographers. As most people see dance as a feminine art form, we decide to beak the mindset and find out more from one of the choreographers as to what dance is all about to him – from his perspective.

Q1: What is it about dance that draws you to it? How did you first started out?

S: I was hyper active when I was young. At school, I couldn’t sit still on the chair and I had melodies in my head all the time. It sounds a bit weird but I behaved and acted quite “interestingly” at school. I am happy that my mother was very open-minded though. She recognized my funky moves and she asked what I would like to study after the elementary school. I told her “ballet”, because I had seen a very beautiful photo from a male ballet dancer and I thought “to stand only on one leg was fascinating”.

Q2: Were there any difficulties that you face as a dancer and as a choreographer through the years?

S: Sure, as dancer I think of more myself as a focus point. As a choreographer it is more about people – finding relationships with them and leading them to create pieces. Of course, the transition from a dancer to a choreographer is never easy. One has to prove a lot and learn a lot during the years to earn the credits. 

Q3 & Q4: What are your motivations every single day? How do you get the energy to do what you do daily?

S: I don’t focus solely on dance all the time – I’ll take my mind off dance and do something instead. For example: Reading books, catching up with friends, going to the museums, having a walk and enjoying nature and spending time with myself alone. That’s how I get the motivation and recover by the stress.

Q5: What are qualities that a dancer should have that you feel should be the most important to them?

S: He needs be strong, and be independent in mind. Certainly, techniques are required and a must, but personality is the most crucial aspect. I like dancers who dare to speak speak their thoughts and reflect about themselves.

Q6: Tell us more about your new creation, Nexus. What inspirations did you draw from for its choreography?

S: Nexus is about a continuous journey; a travelogue. It’s a journey and tells the story about the dance team where I give them inputs and study their movements, and in exchange, they’ve given me their trust and their body and mind.

Q7: What were your feelings during the process of Nexus?

S: Great. They are most generous people I’ve met. Good techniques and they simply lovely. It’s a wonderful team and a dream to work with.

Q8: Dance is a powerful yet graceful expression, yet not everyone is drawn to these arts. In your opinion, what is a good way to get more people interested in dance?

S: Dance is one of the arts that is unique every time – as an audience, you witness the power as well as the sensuality, but only in that moment and never again. It is a live art as dancers work on their bodies and it’s a privilege to see that. Dance relates to life and society and it’s a current affair – you see dance as you can see yourself in it. Like the famous sentence from a German choreographer Pina Bausch: “Dance – dance, otherwise you get lost.“

Q9: Do you think there is a limit to understanding and interpreting dance?

S: Absolutely not. Although dance is to be understood, it is communicative. Dance is about feelings – it can be abstract, it can be frightening to the point of evoking goosebumps. 🙂 We live in a society where we are cold, isolated and disconnected to each others but I believe, through dance, it can connect everyone together better.

Q10: And finally, to end off, what are your future plans and hopes for dance?

S: My plan is scheduled two years after in fact. There are a few projects with live orchestral pieces and there are some focusing on experimental dance in Europe. Well, I hope the dancers and choreographers should all get more support from the governments and contemporary dance should gain more public recognitions.

(image credit to: Dr. Achim Plum)