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Steer-ing Your Senses In a Different Direction

On January 19-20, Niagara residents will have the opportunity to see beautiful merging of flesh and technology. STEER by Zata Omm will be presented at the Robsertson Theatre at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre.

“People have been experimenting with the insertion of computers into our bodies for years,” said Artistic Director of Zata Omm, William Yong.

Using several different technological frameworks based on sensory modulation, Yong, along with artists Jerome Delapierre and Navid Navab, created a dance show using lighting and soundscapes that demonstrates the bridge between our minds and technology.

“We use a real time motion capture system alongside infrared lights and cameras. There are three accelerometer sensors that are embedded on my costume and we also use a piezoelectric sensor that is installed on the dance floor. The inputs from these sensory outputs are interpreted in real time and are manipulated by a sonic artist and a visual artist,” explained Yong.

“Basically, my movement triggers all the sounds and visual elements on stage. It feels like I’m directing my focus and energy in my internal and external world by modulating the speed and dynamics of my own motions. It’s like I’m conducting the world on stage.”

Yong, a professional dancer was the recipient of the Hong Kong Jockey Club Music and Dance Fund, which helped him move to London, England to pursue his education. Upon completion of his Masters Degree, Yong ultimately found himself in Canada in 2000 reuniting with his mother.

He was recommended to find employment at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, in hopes of meeting like-minded people, and within a year he was working with the Toronto Dance Theatre.

“I really am blessed that I met the right people when I moved here, I met a lot of amazing people that I keep in touch with still,” he said.

In 2005, Yong started his own not-for-profit Dance Company Zata Omm, and for the past seven years, has been working on STEER with both Delapierre and Navab.

“I’ve been trying to break new ground and collaborate with artists, engineers and scientists to find innovative ways to reimagine dance and integrate different technologies into dance,” said Yong.

For the past three years, Zata Omm has been touring Steer, performing on the World Stage in 2016 and 2017, and are currently working on bringing the show to St. Catharines, Oakville and China, with more performances that are yet to be confirmed.

While the focus is on Yong and his dancing, the music and use of light create a tandem that is otherworldly.

“The show really establishes a bridge to a dream-like state and manifests the hidden world of thoughts and mind into a reality.”

You can watch a short teaser on Vimeo, and more information about the performances can be found at firstontariopac.ca

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