Photo: Ting Zhang

Asking what do we inherit from family tragedies in times past? Would we have a different opinion of an austere grandmother had we known her in her youth - the latest offering by Victoria Chiu examines her family roots in the play titled What Happened in Shanghai.

Performed in the Abbotsford Convent in the Magdalen Laundry from 21 – 24 February, as part of Asia TOPA 2020, the play draws on her family roots in Shanghai, with the choreographer Victoria Chiu interrogating how the contemporary body can illuminate different attitudes towards family.

Melding contemporary dance, video and live music from Chinese and Australian artists, this evocative collaboration begins like the sharing of a story and unfolds as a contemplation of our connections in the present. Four dancers explore the spaces between death and new life, influenced by the resilience passed down from their female ancestors. "The dancers weave through vignettes and emotions that cross time and culture, responding to the (dis)connections between their lives and that of their grandmothers," said Victoria Chiu, "My grandmother, Yuen Kun Chi, studied the piano at the Shanghai Conservatorium during the Japanese occupation. Her best friend Chiubik perished in the turmoil and her dying wish was for my grandmother to replace her as wife and mother."

"My perception of my grandmother is framed by having known her only as an old austere woman whose language I couldn’t speak. Would I have a different opinion of my grandmother if I had been able to know her in her youth?

What Happened in Shanghai is an intimate multi-disciplinary work told through English and Chinese text, personable projections and the body, with live music by Guzheng player Mindy Meng Wang and Chinese electronic artist MHP (aka Ma Hai Ping).

Previously performed at the Shanghai International Arts Festival RAW! Land 2017, What Happened in Shanghai at the Convent will feature Victoria Chiu (choreographer) dancing for Kristina Chan, alongside Alice Dixon, Lui Ya Nan and Feng Feng Wang.

To see more on this uniquely evocative event, What Happened in Shanghai by Victoria Chiu, check out their page on Asia TOPA's site here!


Dates: 21 - 24 February 2020

Time: 8.30pm (1hr duration)

Location: Abbotsford Convent, North Magdalen Laundry - 1 St Heliers St, Abbotsford

Tickets: $23 - $25 plus booking fees

Asia TOPA Website