© Timothy Yeung

Our third year student Yiming Cai is a co-winner of the 2018 Kathryn Ash Scholarship, and recipient of a 2017 Lindy Green and Sam Chaiton Student Bursary. Originally from Singapore, Yiming began his movement training competing in Wushu. He started dancing at the Nanyang Technological University, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies, and was President of the NTU contemporary dance club. He danced in Singapore with T.H.E. Second Company. An exceptional student, Yiming is the co-winner of the Kathryn Ash Scholarship, a merit-based award given to a deserving student going into their final year of study.

In his application for the Scholarship, Yiming wrote that since he came to the School, “fundamentally, my artistic views have widened. Being exposed to the dance scene here and its history has expanded my ideologies of dance – what does dance constitute? What is good/bad dance and does it matter? How should dance be appreciated? Why is dance here the way it is? How do I reconcile different worlds of dance that both move me? Where is the art?” A thoughtful and analytical young man, he continued in his writing that he finds answers to these questions in “various encounters – going to shows, interacting in the studio with my teachers in technique class / with artists in creation and rehearsals, little chats with my peers along the corridors, sitting in reflection, being inspired by all those who have already walked the path I seek. These experiences serve as a telescope to gaze further into the dance universe.”

© Clara Tille Berger

As well as being an exceptional student, and a curious and articulate thinker, Yiming is also particularly generous and helpful in all he undertakes. When the School co-sponsored the major 40 Dancer Project with the New Blue Festival in June, Yiming, hired to assist with the arrangements and practicalities of the week-long event, made himself indispensable. He seemed to be everywhere – cleaning, setting up spaces, cleaning, hanging pictures, cleaning, picking up lunches, cleaning, setting out lunches, cleaning, running errands… generally offering a hand whenever he could, helping to make everything happen smoothly and calmly, and somehow also finding time to sit in on the fascinating workshop on Concussion in Dance.

This summer, following the New Blue Festival, Yiming spent three exhilarating weeks at Springboard Danse, in Montreal, and came back to Toronto full of enthusiasm about the whole experience. There were 3-hour workshops every day; he found them “all mind-blowing”. Five emerging choreographers made dances on the participants, and Yiming had the opportunity to work with an artist from Hungary called MA•ZE (Emese Nagy), in a fascinating piece using movement that was close to hip hop, and music that was a mashup of Israeli folksongs. Yiming’s classmate from the School, Ryan Kostyniuk, also attended Springboard, and danced in this work as well.

For the showing in Usine C at the close of the three weeks, Yiming had the chance to perform in a piece by the Belgian choreographer Stijn Celis, from the repertoire of the Swedish company GöteborgsOperans Danskompani. The work, called Your Passion is Pure Joy to Me, closed the showing on the final day of the intensive.

Yiming is thrilled with all the connections he made at Springboard, and he says he’d love to return another year if he has the chance. Meanwhile, he’s diving into his third and final year in the PTP, and we look forward to watching his development and his accomplishments, as he assimilates all his recent experiences.