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Meet MMDF2020 performer: Peter Cheng

For the past 10 years, Making Moves Dance Festival has served as a platform to promote new, emerging and underrepresented dance companies. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, JCAL will present the 11th annual festival as a virtual experience. Each dance company will deliver its performance on Friday, Sept. 25 and Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, on JCAL’s digital platforms.

Peter Cheng and his dance company PETER & CO are one of 11 NYC Dance Companies participating in the event. With Peter as its Artistic Director, PETER & CO's work has been presented at 92nd St. Y/Harkness, Judson Memorial Church, Arts On Site, and LPAC among others.

We asked Peter a few questions to better introduce him to our audience. Read up below and don't forget to RSVP for the free event here: https://jcal.meeter-app.com/event/VCVsBGX64T

1. What inspired you to commit to being an artist? How did you choose dance as your art-form? Our audience would love to hear about influential moments that led you to pursue dance as a career.

During high school, I studied both music and performance, only beginning dance at the age of 13 and formal training at 17. By the time I entered college, I knew for a fact that I wanted to pursue dance. It drew me in as a form of expression that music simply couldn't -- the training in both forms of art turned out to be a benefit! Upon graduation, I went through a period of convalescence due to illness and dance was forcibly removed from my life until about 8-years later. When I received the chance to move, create, and dance again at 28 -- starting late yet again -- I rekindled my love for dance and committed fully.

2. What are some special elements of your work, regarding your upcoming performance that you'd like to share with us? Is there anything you'd like to say about what we might expect?

T I L T S H I F T was created through the generosity of Mare Nostrum Elements' Emerging Choreographer Series #7 and premiered at LPAC in February 2020. Two weeks later New York City began sheltering in place. The footage of the work has never been released since the live premiere earlier this year -- and it is my hope that the piece, although presented virtually, continues to be engaging. That the integrity of the work, its quality, and intention shine through.

What you'll notice first in T I L T S H I F T is the elevation of a full cast of Asian American contemporary dancers. This was intentional given Asian voices in concert dance are highly underrepresented, and in many cases tokenized. We are never the majority. The piece itself is an embodiment and conceptual journey of how it feels to be "othered", characterized by a single dancer on stage and additional cast of five. I also wanted the arc of the work to move from divisive to unified, in that we are stronger together if we are able to perceive our own experience as a common human experience versus a singular one.

3. What offers you inspiration for your work? What are the things in your "universe" that give you motivation to make your work?

I'm inspired by ideas, experiences, concepts, and more broadly - the state of the world. The motivation to make work is cyclical and depends on whether I feel strongly enough about an idea or experience that would be better translated into movement. Not surprisingly many don't make it from concept to stage.

4. What are your goals and aspirations going forward as a dancer; an artist?

In the time of COVID, I've allowed my goals and aspirations to be set by the current state of the world in the sense that this "pause" has relinquished the need to hustle and grind. As an artist, I trust fully in my natural instincts and skills to be adaptable, as dancer and choreographer during lulls and bursts. I have to be comfortable with this and to take each day as it comes.

THE INSTANT AND THE ETERNAL (PHOTOS BY SERGIO CARRASCO)

5. Please include your artist/company website and social media information.

Instagram: @cheng_moves and @peterandco.nyc

facebook.com/peterandco.nyc

Meet the participating members of PETER & CO below!

Mamiko Nakatsugawa is originally from Miyagi, Japan. She graduated from SUNY Fredonia with a B.F.A. in Dance and a B.A. Theatre Arts in 2019 and has worked with Matthew Westerby Dance Company as an apprentice, performing with the company in “ReNew 3” (2018). Mamiko has also appeared in musical theater works including Anne of Green Gables (Japan National Tour ensemble), Cabaret (Kit Kat Girls), and South Pacific (Liat). She is now pursuing her professional career in NYC and performs with Jon Lehrer Dance Company and Rumbamena Dance Company. @mamiko.nakatsugawa

Melissa Anderson began dancing at the age of five at The Ballet Academy of Texas and proudly received 3 scholarships from the Dance Council of North Texas. A Dallas, TX native, she attended The Juilliard School under Artistic Director Lawrence Rhodes. Throughout her Juilliard career, Melissa performed world premiers and repertoire of Sharon Eyal, Aszure Barton, Jiří Kylián, and Crystal Pite. After graduating in May 2018 with a BFA, Melissa danced in productions at The Metropolitan Opera including “La Traviata” and “Samson et Dalila”. She has also had the honor of dancing in Austin McCormick’s Company XIV and Alessandra Corona Performing Works. @melissrose963

Mikaela Morisato is an American freelance dancer and choreographer of Japanese descent. Originally from Texas, her studies have taken place with Complexions Contemporary Ballet and Joffrey Ballet School. Mikaela has also studied abroad in Israel and trained with Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company. During her career she has performed works by artists from Batsheva Dance Company, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, Cullbergbaletten, and more. Her own choreography has been performed at multiple domestic and international venues. She is currently based in New York commissioning her own work and dances in two companies, along with several individual projects. @mikaelamorisato

RSVP for Making Moves Dance Festival here

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