skip to Main Content
Interview With Susanne Chui, Artistic Director Of Mocean Dance

Interview with Susanne Chui, Artistic Director of Mocean Dance

Photo by: Nick Rudnicki

Tell us about yourself, location and company.

Based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Mocean Dance was founded in 2001 by dancers Carolle Crooks Fernando, Sarah Rozee, Sara Harrigan, Alicia Orr MacDonald, and Lisa Phinney Langley. Currently led by Artistic Director Susanne Chui and Artistic Associate Sara Coffin, Mocean Dance is recognized nationally as a leading contemporary dance company from the Atlantic region.  The company’s work is rooted in the core values of collaboration, versatility, technical and emotional depth, professionalism, and a commitment to the work’s integrity.

Mocean has produced and presented new shows annually (8 full-length productions), and has created over 25 new works with choreographers from across the country.  The company is also dedicated to community outreach and the development of future audiences.  Mocean has developed residency programs bringing contemporary dance to communities across the region, and has performed and led workshops for thousands of students.  Mocean has appeared to acclaim in Ontario, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, in theatres across Nova Scotia, and in the United States.

Mocean is committed to being based in Nova Scotia and contributing to its growing dance and arts community by providing opportunities for creation, performance, collaboration, development and education.

What is your dance background?  What drew you to it?

Mocean is made up of dance artists from a variety of training backgrounds. We hire dancers on a per project basis. The majority of our dancers were born in Nova Scotia and did their pre-professional training in Halifax. They have trained professionally across the country at schools such as TDT, LADMMI, SFU, and in the United States at North Carolina School for the Arts, and the New World School of the Arts in Miami, FL. Some of our dancers live in Nova Scotia, and some share their time between NS and other cities. We also hire guest dancers from outside of NS. Last season we hired Darryl Tracy from Toronto.

The company was created by five young women with a dream to create an innovative sustainable, contemporary company built by Nova Scotian dancers.

Describe your approach to movement and your creative process. What is your favourite part of your approach?

Mocean commissions national and international choreographers to create work on the company. We also commission local choreographers and company members. We enjoy working with choreographers whose work is highly physical and those who incorporate theatrical elements. Our dancers are very collaborative and bring a wide range of skill and talent to the creative process. In general we like to laugh and have fun in the studio but also work hard and find authenticity in the work and the process.

Is there a Canadian artist/organization who has really had an impact on your artistic development and career?

Mocean is a home-grown dance company with a unique support system deeply rooted in our community. All artists involved contribute to the evolution of the company, including the local dancers and commissioned choreographers.

In our 11 year history we have worked with many choreographers who have had an impact the company’s artistic development, in particular Tedd Robinson (Ottawa), Sharon Moore (Toronto), Susie Burpee (Toronto), Estelle Clareton (Montreal), Lesandra Dodson (New Brunswick),  Michael Trent (Toronto), Roger Singha (Montreal), Sara Coffin (Halifax), Lisa Phinney Langley (Halifax) and Cory Bowles (Halifax).

Barbara Richman, an arts administrator has played a key role in developing Mocean from the beginning and helping to make Mocean a successful and sustainable dance company.

Kathy Casey of Montreal Danse has been a mentor to the company over the years and has had impact on company’s creative direction.

In 30 words or less, define yourself as an artist.

A committed, passionate, hard-working dance company, who aim is contribute to on-going evolution of dance in Canada from the Nova Scotian perspective.

What was it that attracted you to being involved with d:mic/fac?

A great performance opportunity in Toronto!

We want to share our work with Ontario audiences, interact with the broader dance community, see other shows from across Canada, and take classes and workshops.

What advice do you have for aspiring dance artists and choreographers?

–       In the unofficial words of Gandhi: Be the change you want to see in the world.

–       Believe in what you do.

–       If it’s something you think you should do, do it.

–       Ask for help.

–       You’re only in competition with yourself.

Briefly tell us about your newest projects. What can we expect from your performance at d:mic/fac 2013?

New projects:

In September we will be collaborating with Here Hear Productions on a site-specific performance called Burnwater, involving dancers, musicians, storytellers and  a blacksmith/sculptor named John Little on his property in East Dover, NS.

We are creating a new trio with the company’s Artistic Associate, Sara Coffin, which will premiere in Halifax April 24-26 2014, presented Live Art Dance Productions.

We will hold our 2nd annual Choreographic Lab CLEaR Forum (Choreographic Lab, Exploration & Research) in collaboration with the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts in Canning, NS.

From our d:mic performance you can expect to be delighted, mesmerized and you may even find yourself tapping your feet to the music. Kid-friendly!


Mocean Dance will be performing Canvas 5 x 5 at d: mic/fac as part of the Von Tiedemann Series:

August 15 at 7:00pm
August 16 at 9:00pm
August 17 at 9:00pm

In a timeless world of grace and wonder, Tedd Robison’s Canvas 5 x 5 is a masterful intertwining of the familiar with the excitingly new. Set to a traditional maritime soundscape, the piece blends striking contemporary imagery and contagious kinetic movement, interplayed with Robinson’s signature use of elegance and beauty.

Back To Top Skip to content