Chameleons: global citizens in motion, both body and soul

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in borderlands,community,culture,global niche,hybrid ambassadors,identity,multicultural

Photo of Alaine Handa by Yi-Chun Wu


Our body is where the soul dwells. If life as a Third Culture Kid is culture in motion, and dance is a body in motion – imagine the sense of home TCKs find when we put the two together.

That’s exactly what I’m exploring as a dancer in choreographer and dance educator Alaine Handa’s Chameleon: the experience of global citizens.

Like author Toni Morrison said during interactive exhibit The Foreigner’s Home, a body in motion shows us “the body as the real and final home.” The Chameleon performance plumbs our endless struggle between notions of home and identity, where we flit between “fitting in and being the outsider…” says Handa, who was born in Singapore, raised in Indonesia and currently lives in New York City.

Handa draws together dancers interested in developing as global citizens, addressing their childhood memories of comfort and joy  — and the shifting sense of belonging and grief — through movement, discussion and writings.

Like a true culture-crosser, Handa also collaborates with like-minded artists from other disciplines. In the Chameleon multi-disciplinary modern dance piece — at the Toronto Fringe Festival July 8-17th — she uses film, photography, music, spoken word, and jewelry design.

Growing up in a cross cultural family, I moved to a new place every two years because of my father’s job. Only recently has the impact of these variables on my sense of identity become clear. We TCKs tend to rely on ourselves to secure a solid sense of home wherever we are, using sensory and emotional triggers to paint the picture. By joining A.H. Dance Company, I’m now integrating my experiences — in body and soul.

Handa’s Chameleon performance reminds us that the experience of building a home begins in the depths of one’s being.

How do you physically address your shifting recollections and perceptions of home?

Olivea Kazumi Shure began dancing in Augusta, Georgia at age 10. At Soka University of America where the motto is “Be world citizens in solidarity for peace”, she pursued modern dance as a vital component to her studies in humanities.  Olivea lives in New York City with her husband Rann Golamco, and has performed with numerous companies including the EmergingBodhis Dance Theater. Find her at oshure at
See a video trailer of the Chameleon performance.

Photo of Tsubasa Ogawa dancing Alaine Handa’s choreography in CHAMELEON by Yi-Chun Wu

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