pliant spaces: yat, yih, saam, sei

Feature image. Sarah Wong.

Still from Sarah Wong’s performance pliant spaces: yih. Sarah is dancing outside in a grassy area. She is facing the camera with both of her arms extended in front of her, forming a curved shape. She is wearing a printed button-up short-sleeved shirt over a grey dress.

pliant spaces: yat, yih, saam, sei is influenced by my experience studying tai chi. Originally commissioned as a dance solo for the 2020 edition of Vines Art Festival, it has now been re-developed into a quartet of works, which includes a film from the 2020 performance, a writing piece archiving the creative process, a walking meditation, and a textile-based installation. Touching on themes of ritual, transformation, and coexistence, this work is a love letter to the community I practice with and the environment I practice in. It records the early stages of my journey as I learn to carry the weight of preserving tradition. This work is a practice of showing up as I delicately balance my body in a shifting universe. It is dedicated to all the wise, beautiful and resilient Chinese elders.


pliant spaces_ yat (Archival Writing) and pliant spaces_ yat (Archival Writing) – Simplified Chinese


pliant spaces yih video
Video Description: Sarah performs her video originally commissioned as a dance solo for the 2020 edition of Vines Art Festival. English audio with English captions, and Simplified Chinese subtitles available.


English transcript, This audio only track has English captions and Simplified Chinese subtitles available.

Sarah Wong

Sarah Wong is an emerging dance artist, choreographer and writer based in Vancouver, Canada on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. Her practice explores queer and racialized identity through the lens of ancestry. Using embodied experiences and archival materials, she creates within the realms of performance, installation, and creative writing. Her work has been presented in Vancouver at IGNITE! Youth Arts Festival, Vines Art Festival, and Boombox, and internationally at Mosaico Danza Interplay Festival (Turin, IT). She has worked with artists including Dumb Instrument Dance, Kinesis Dance somatheatro, plastic orchid factory, and Mardon & Mitsuhashi. She is currently engaged in an artistic mentorship with Justine A. Chambers through the support of the BC Arts Council Early Career Development Program.

Artist Statement:

My artistic practice emerges from my lived experience as a queer, second-generation Chinese-Canadian woman. I explore themes of identity through investigating the tension between my heritage and the Western assimilation of my upbringing. My practice is engrossed in archival processes, often using support materials including writing, images, and voice-recordings, as well as viewing my body as its own archive of embodied generational knowledge. In conjunction, I regard my creative process as an act of recording history, a mode of tracking the evolution of my family’s lineage. In my desire to unpack conditioned ways of moving, creating, and being, I aim to have an interdisciplinary practice open to diverse possibilities of expression. I view choreography as a multifaceted structure that can extend beyond the body and into language and materials. My works have taken the form of score-based improvisational performances, ritual-based research, site-specific installation, poetry and multimedia zines. Also having a spiritual practice in meditation and qi gong, as well as living with mental and chronic illness, I am attentive to wellness and ethics within my creative processes. I strive to create structures for supportive collaboration. I am passionate about pursuing art as a site for healing and nurturing embodied agency.

sei: CMHC Granville Island Exhibition (May 24th – 31st)

Preparators note: The installation of pliant spaces: sei was installed by a team with direction from Sarah. Unfortunately, during installation, the positioning of the writing of A SCORE was not accurately installed as it is intended to be viewed. A SCORE is to be viewed in the following way:

Root your ears in the earth
Grip softly / tense lightly / assert quietly
                                Be with people
                                Be intent on your unknowing
Find elasticity between where you’re going
and where you came from


Exhibition Access, Site Maps, and Audio Tours

Visit our accessibility page for information on how to access CMHC Granville Island and our on-site exhibition. Video tours are available in spoke English with English captions and subtitle files in: Tagalog, Hindi, Simplified Chinese, and Punjabi. Audio tours are available in English, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Tagalog.

pliant spaces: yat, yih, saam, sei Credits:

Choreographer, Performer, Writer: Sarah Wong

Sound Designer for dance solo: Sammy Chien

Artistic Advisor for dance solo: Tia Kushniruk

Textile artist: Michelle Larsen

Mentor: Justine A. Chambers

Videography: Valley Tech Production Group LTD.

Original commission for pliant spaces by Vines Art Festival, 2020