April 2, 2009

Artist Jon Wong '08 to stage performance in Weill Hall

Jonathan Wong '08, winner of the 2008-09 Undergraduate Artist Award from the Cornell Council for the Arts, will present a collaborative performance piece, "The Same Dance 4 Times," April 8 at 5 p.m. in the atrium of Weill Hall, with dancers, musicians and members of the Cornell a cappella group Last Call. Wong will receive the award following the performance.

Wong is a dancer living in Hong Kong. He received a B.A. in dance and psychology in May 2008, when the award was announced. He was described by dance faculty as "a bright, mature, articulate, modest, investigative and exceptionally gifted" student whose artistic accomplishments and abilities were extraordinary.

He performed in more than 100 campus events while a student here. He also participated in Last Call as a director, choreographer, singer, soloist and arranger; was a member of the Cornell Glee Club, Hong Kong Student Association and Chinese Student Association; and a choreographer-dancer in Uhuru Kuumba Dance Troupe and BASE Productions.

Wong's coursework included modern dance, dance improvisation, repertory, dance composition, writing dance criticism and digital music.

"Jon is simply one of those special performing artists who, due to a disciplined virtuosity and emotional depth, captures and sustains one's attention," said Kent Goetz, former chair of the Department of Theatre, Film and Dance. "He is one of those extraordinary students that teachers wish would come along much more often."

The Weill Hall performance will juxtapose and recontextualize movements to draw attention to the formal similarities and dissimilarities between them. Members of the audience will move through the atrium space, creating an interactive experience.

By integrating social, street and concert dance, Wong will create an atypical but critical presentation of these forms. He will attempt to foster a more open appreciation of dance forms by blurring some of the boundaries that have been drawn between high and low art in dance.

"It seems to me that much of the weight attributed to various names like 'modern,' 'ballet' or 'hip-hop' has less to do with the difference between forms and more to do with the attitude with which they are performed and appreciated," Wong said. "Through this work, I hope to take a closer look at why it seems that many of us have learned that practicing certain artistic techniques can define our social identities, intellectual tendencies and aesthetic tastes."

Cornell arts department chairs select the annual Undergraduate Artist Award winner. Honorees receive $1,000 and an opportunity to mount a performance or exhibition. Students receiving the award as a senior return to campus within the following year to present their work.