Sep 24, 2021

Meet Yiming Cai, Choreographer from our Musik in Motion video

Musik in Motion is a free series of collaborative videos, featuring local artists of diverse art forms. Produced by Puncture Design, and in keeping with our commitment to exploring “baroque and beyond,” this video series invites creative partners to interpret music that is an essential part of Tafelmusik’s signature repertoire.

The latest video in the series is a collaboration with The School of Toronto Dance Theatre. Choreographed by Guest Choreographer Hanna Kiel, and with rehearsal direction from recent graduate Yiming Cai, this video shows students from the school interpreting a movement from Vivaldi’s concerto for bassoon in D Minor, RV 481, as recorded by Tafelmusik.

To learn more about this collaboration, we spoke with Cai, to ask about his process, his inspiration, and how this Musik in Motion video came to fruition.

Photo credit: Cylla von Tiedemann

Tafelmusik: What does dance education look like right now, during a pandemic, with restrictions on gathering? How does one teach dance online, while continuing to inspire students?

Yiming Cai: Dance training has been largely reduced to moving in front of a screen, usually in isolation. It demands trust and patience, and it can feel rather disorientating initially but the joy of dance is always there. Dancers feel connection and supported when they see their teachers dancing fully embodied and they mirror that sense of enthusiasm. 

Had you encountered Tafelmusik prior to this collaboration?

YC: Yes! I actually came across Tafelmusik on Spotify a couple of years back and didn't know they were from Toronto! What a delightful surprise for me to find out now.

What kinds of music—genres, styles—do you typically choreograph to? Beyond our recent collaboration, do you have any recent musical favourites that you love to choreograph to?

YC: Some artists/music influences that I find myself going back to are the likes of Olafur Arnalds, Dustin O'Holloran, Nils Frahm, and Max Richter. I do not have an active choreographic practice.

Photo credit: Cylla von Tiedemann

What are you trying to convey through dance and movement for this piece—our recording of Vivaldi’s bassoon concerto? Is there a particular mood or feeling you interpreted? Once filmed, what do you hope viewers will get out of it?

YC: Hanna Kiel has a very intuitive manner of interpreting the concerto and the feelings that surface from listening to the music. Working with her, I have found that she pays particular attention to approaching the music as a landscape; and through the dance choreography, weave in various sceneries. The work is a fountain of vibrance, of life.  

How did the students respond to this collaboration?

YC: They were very generous and rose up to the occasion.

What other projects are you currently working on?

YC: Together with my collaborator Tássia Vasconcelos, we have an online teaching practice called Incorpore. Here in Toronto I am a dancer for Tiger Princess Dance Projects, as well as artist Sashar Zarif, who is developing work for future performance opportunities.  

What dancers or companies are you currently inspired by?

YC: Kidd pivot, Hofesh, and most recently the Limón Dance Company.

Anything you’d like to add?

YC: Thanks for the opportunity!

Watch the latest Musik in Motion video below, premiering on September 24 at 7pm EDT.