Australian artist Victoria Chiu selected for new Live@RAM Artist in Residency at Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai

Published by: Multicultural Arts Victoria | 20-Jul-2016
Australian artist Victoria Chiu has been selected to undertake Shanghai's Rockbund Art Museum's new Live@RAM 10 day artist in residency program for performative art from 28 July to 7 August 2016. As part of the residency, Chiu will present two shows at RAM on Sunday 7 August 2016. The residency and performances will contribute to the full length new contemporary dance work 'What Happened In Shanghai' to be premiered in its entirety in Melbourne in 2017. #multiculturalartsvic @multiartsvic @multiculturalarts
The development of this work has been closely supported by Multicultural Arts Victoria. Melbourne-based, Chiu began researching this work on a Playking Foundation Asian Travel Grant in January 2015. With Creative Victoria funding she was then able to develop it further by performing at the China Shanghai International Arts Festival (CSIAF) RAW!Land program and undertake a 3 day intensive with Shanghai-based collaborators in October 2015, followed by another period of development with the whole cast in Shanghai in April 2016. It was during the April creative development period that the Rockbund Art Museum producers saw the showing of this development and subsequently selected Chiu for their new Live@RAM Artist in Residency.

During Live@RAM Chiu will work alongside Shanghai dancers Lui YaNan, video artist Guo JinXin and Electronic Musician Ma HaiPing. Following this in October, together with the Shanghai dancers and Australian dancers, Kristina Chan and Gabrielle Nankivell, the Australian/Chinese team will perform at the Nu-Art Festival in Sichuan, China from 1-3 October 2016 and at the Shanghai Technology Showcase from 9-12 October 2016. The final work will take place in Melbourne, Australia leading into a premiere season in 2017.

"To have such a prestigious invitation to perform at the Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai and the NU-ART Festival Sichuan is a real credit to the contemporary cross-cultural work of Victoria Chiu and her creative team. Multicultural Arts Victoria proudly supports work inspired by our artists from the Chinese diaspora that explores identity and challenges the Australian cultural narrative." - Jill Morgan AM, CEO, Multicultural Arts Victoria

"This invitation is the perfect opportunity for me to find the best aesthetic between movement and video projection that WHIS asks for. It will significantly deepen both my movement practice and cross cultural creative dialogue on an international platform in China." - Victoria Chiu, Dancer/Choreographer


Sydney born Victoria Chiu trained at the VCA, Melbourne, completing a Bachelor of Dance. She has performed and toured extensively with European companies Cie Nomades, Cie Gilles Jobin, Micha Purucker, Jozsef Trefeli and Jane Turner. In Australia she has worked with Fiona Malone, Bernadette Walong and with Australian Dance Theatre for TV show Superstars of Dance filmed in LA. Her first full length work was a Sydney/Geneva collaboration with Cie József Trefeli called 'StarStruck'. Victoria and Roland Cox successfully created and toured 'The Ballad of Herbie Cox'. It toured with critical acclaim across Canada was invited to Los Angeles April 2013 and to Mildura Wentworth Arts Festival 2014. Victoria was Dancehouse Housemate XI in which the work 'Floored' was presented in August 2013. Victoria has been in residence at Footscray Community Arts Centre since September 2013 while working on last work 'Do You Speak Chinese?', this work premiered with critical acclaim in March as part of the 2015 Malthouse season for Dance Massive, toured to Shanghai International Arts Festival RAW!Land October 2015 and Bendigo December 2015. Victoria has received the Lydia Hao Emerging Artist Award 2013, a Playking Foundation Asian Performing Arts Travel Grant 2015 and has been a Multicultural Arts Victoria Ambassador for Melbourne Festival since 2013. Do You Speak Chinese? was nominated Most Outstanding Choreography and Victoria Chiu and Kristina Chan Most Outstanding Dancers by Susan Bendall in Dance Australia Critics Survey 2015.


My Chinese family's roots are in Shanghai where 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 and better understand her life's context? What was the essence of the moment when she made this momentous decision that led to the accident of my existence? What do we inherit from family tragedies in times past?

The catalyst for WHIS has been considering my own relationship with my deceased Chinese grandmother. Divides of age, culture, language, epoch and personality complicate my attitude towards her. Whilst I resemble her in her youth, our personalities and physicalities are/were poles apart. To a very large degree, I owe my existence to her life choices. To unpack this and bridge the breach, I have had to rely on my childhood memory of her, family folklore and my recent research into her life story.

WHIS will inquire into and contrast from a contemporary perspective, each of the dancers' relationships with their grandmothers, comparing and combining them to create an abstract contemporary dance work with universal themes. The work will highlight degrees of influence women have on future generations from a female perspective.

Research includes:

How does the contemporary body relate to a place that has been left to the dancers through a memory / memories of their grandmothers' lives?

Memories distort the past: the more distance we have from the past the more licence we take to invent our own story from the collection of memories we receive from others or remember ourselves. What do you invent?

Does the past have influence on the present? Paying more attention to female wisdom and experiences that can be passed down through generations.

Energies from the cities/towns we live in and the uniqueness of our individual journeys mean our present always has the possibility of change "“ we are in a state of flux. Both forced and chosen migration can evolve from these moments.


Multicultural Arts Victoria (MAV) is a not for profit organisation that has evolved over four decades into one of Australia's most important bodies for development and promotion of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) contemporary art, heritage and cultural expression. 1 million participants each year are engaged in MAV's innovative, educational and culturally rich program. MAV also provides crucial advice and significant initiatives for career development and creative capacity building for artists and communities from established and emerging backgrounds. The organisation can provide expertise in audience development, community engagement, and artistic excellence in CALD communities.

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