Peter Chu

Music for contemporary dance

Peter Chu’s career has been so demanding that until recently, he hadn’t had a permanent address in more than five years. He was living on the road, with his belongings in a storage facility that he would return to between gigs: teaching at 24 Seven Dance Convention, choreographing for several companies and “So You Think You Can Dance,” directing his own troupe, chuthis., and dancing in Crystal Pite’s Kidd Pivot.

What keeps him calm amid all the chaos is improvisation. “I’m not a master, but I’m really passionate about it,” says Chu, whose ultra-fluid style nearly masks its tricky athleticism. “Getting into the studio and giving myself tasks like putting a phrase on the floor or moving from just the head or the elbow has helped me find my own groove. It’s about finding a different flavor. Even the kind of improv where I go out and groove at a club helps me figure out who Peter Chu is.” DT

Artist: Johann Johannsson

Work: Virthulegu Forsetar, Part 1

“This sets the tone for my class. There’s a real weightlessness to it, with enough space in the music to focus on breath control and simplicity of movement. Its liquid-like quality helps you move from the bone, not the muscle, which is healthier for the body.”

Artist: Woodkid

Song: “Baltimore’s Fireflies”

“I use this to guide improvisational jams and warm-ups. It has a natural and beautiful build, and a colorful tone that makes it so powerful.”

Artist: Jamie Woon

Album: Mirrorwriting

“I use this entire album to create movement phrases. It helps me be free and explore different ways of moving. It has a calm R&B flavor. His voice is so soulful that it resonates and vibrates.”

Artist: Esquivel

Album: The Best Of

“My imagination runs free when I listen to his quirky style. I love his attention to detail and wide range of instrumental combinations. It’s so rich. There are many rhythms to choose from, and his music never fails to bring me back to 1950s Las Vegas.”

Artist: Marvin Gaye

Song: “What’s Going On”

“Every time I hear his music I stop everything I’m doing and just move—I can live inside it. It’s rich, colorful and honest. And it reminds me of why I dance, bringing me back to the core of my movement style.”

Photo by Levi Walker, courtesy of Laura Murray Public Relations

Higher Ed
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