For 30 years, Peter Chin has been creating work in multiple medias that has gained him great respect from peers, audiences and critics in Canada and abroad. Critics and writers have frequently commented not only on the sheer visceral impact of his work, but also the philosophical/intellectual substance of his themes. Michael Crabb, dance critic and host/producer of CBC’s The Arts Report, wrote in 1993 that “Peter Chin is a multi-disciplinary artist with the courage to take on weighty themes.” and earlier in 1989 "The sheer scope of Chin’s imagination commands respect.” Chin’s themes have been timely and seminal in Canadian art of the last 30 years, coinciding with the country’s evolving identity as an (imperfect) global exemplar for multicultural societies and immigration practices.
Chin was born of mixed parentage, Chinese, Irish and Afro-Caribbean, in Jamaica in 1962. This connection to the diversity of the world’s people in his blood, Chin believes, set into motion his artistic predilections, that continued on when he moved to Toronto in 1964, where decades later, the city would be recognized as one of the leading multicultural cosmopolitan areas in the world, interculturalism/multiculturalism becoming part of the very core of Toronto’s identity. This right-time-right-place has allowed Chin to be supported in order to create art with a view of the world as one place, questioning how diversity of all things can be meaningfully contemplated as one, notions of cultural fluidity, how fragments can be put back together, how the cultures of original peoples can be acknowledged, embraced, and how their loss of integrity speaks compellingly to us.
Chin has been described as a “Renaissance man” of the arts world (Glen Sumi NOW magazine). Chin is a choreographer / dancer, a singer / instrumentalist / composer, designer, writer, director, and performance artist. He began his classical music training at St Michael’s Cathedral Choir School Toronto (1970 - 1979) where he became a chorister, a pianist and an organ scholar. Chin also began to write polyphonic motets in 1975, several of which were sung in St Michael’s cathedral by the choir.
He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Visual Arts at York University (1980 - 1984) studying experimental directions with Vera Frenkel, (also painting, sculpture and video art), music composition with James Tenney and creative writing with bp Nichol.
With support from the Canada Council Chalmers Fellowship program and others (1990 onwards) Peter has conducted independent research in Asian classical court performing arts, indigenous tribal performance from Asia and the Americas, indigenous weaving cultures etc., at Institute of Art (ISI) Solo Indonesia, Royal University of Fine Arts Phnom Penh Cambodia, the Textile Museum Washington D.C., National Gallery of Jamaica, Nicaragua, Mexico, China, Japan, etc.
Peter's works have been presented internationally and throughout Canada at The National Arts Centre Canada Dance Festival in Ottawa, Festival International de Nouvelle Danse in Montreal, Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival, Peterborough Festival of the Arts, Season of Cambodia New York City, PuSh Vancouver, New Dance Horizons Regina, St. John's Sound Symposium, The Other Festival in Chennai India, Indonesian Dance Festival, Our Roots Right Now Bangkok, National Gallery of Jamaica, Sutra's Gerak Angin Festival Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, Los Talleres Mexico, Singapore da:ns festival Esplanade, Ijsbreker Festival in Amsterdam Holland, Bogotá Danza en la Ciudad, Lakhaon: Rencontre Internationale de Theatre Phnom Penh Cambodia and many others; and in Toronto, among others, with Harbourfront Centre World Stage, DanceWorks, INDE '92 Toronto, Art in Open Spaces, the Gamelan Summit, Shared Habitat Festival and Dances For a Small Stage. Peter has also toured fLight in Japan, a work he created with Tokyo dance artist Hideo Arai and German/Canadian visual artist Cylla von Tiedemann.
Peter was Now Magazine Best of Toronto dancer / choreographer / designer in 2008. He won the 2006 Murriel Sherrin Award for International Achievement in Dance at the Toronto Mayor's Arts Award and is winner of the 2005 inaugural Interdisciplinary KM Hunter Award. As creator of choreography, music and as performer, Chin received a Gemini Award for "Best Performance in a performing arts program" and Grand Prix Japan Dance and Media award in Nick de Pencier's film Streetcar with Peter Mettler. Peter has received four Dora Mavor Moore Awards for "Outstanding New Choreography" for Stupa in 2005, "Outstanding New Choreography" for Northeastsouthwest in 1997, "Outstanding New Choreography" and "Outstanding Performance" for Bite in 2000. He has also been nominated four times for Language in 1998, Ghost Train in 2001, Transmission of the Invisible in 2008 and Sriwijaya 2011.
Published writing by Chin include:
Transmission of the Invisible: Form and Essence in “Beyond the Apsara: Celebrating Dance in Cambodia”, editors Stephanie Burridge and Fred Frumberg, Routledge Press. UK 2009
Fluency, Recollections: a Testimonial, with co-writer María Constanza-Guzmán, in “Tusaaji: a Translation Review”, Vol 2 No 2, online journal, edited by Lyse Hébert, Toronto. 2013
With Chin’s company, Tribal Crackling Wind, he has created over 40 original works, from solos to works that have involved over 26 performers, live non-western orchestras mixed with western instrumentation, rich visuals/sets, and international and Canadian dancers/interpreters.
Chin has also been invited to sit on many juries and committees because of his knowledge and passion for both the contemporary performing arts scene and various non-western art forms.
Chin has also worked with an impressive array of Ontario arts organizations and individuals, either as a creator of music and/or choreography, interpreter, designer, teacher or mentor. These include Esprit Orchestra, Toronto Dance Theatre, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Volcano Theatre, Trent University, Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival, Le Groupe de la place Royale, Evergreen Gamelan Club, School of Toronto Dance Theatre, Array Music, National Ballet School of Canada, National Ballet of Canada’s Chan Hon Goh, Coleman&Lemieux Co., Toronto Consort, Peterborough Festival of Art, the Music Gallery, Dancemakers, Jeng Yi Korean ensemble, Royal Ontario Museum, Art Gallery of Ontario, Ontario College of Art, InDance, York University, University of Toronto, Young People’s Theatre, Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre (formerly Canadian Children’s Dance Theatre), Mi Young Kim Dance company, Fujiwara dance Inventions, Chartier Dance, among others.
Because of the nature of Chin’s work, he has been sought out by First Nations artists and organizations for his mentorship, consultation, choreography, or dancing. These have included, Kaha:wi Dance theatre, Red Sky Performance, Raoul Trujillo, Planet IndegenUs, Alejandro Ronceria, Waawaate Fobister, Carlos Rivera, and Jerry Longboat.