Eric Hang-Yu Liu is a ballet dancer and choreographer whose work focuses on shedding light on the struggles of the Asian diaspora. I had the chance to sit down with Eric and discuss his work, what drives him, and what we can expect from him in the future.
EHL: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. Could you tell our readers a little bit about your background and how you got into ballet?
EHYL: I was born in Vietnam and my family immigrated to the United States when I was three years old. I grew up in Los Angeles and started taking ballet classes when I was six years old. I loved the physicality of ballet and the way it made me feel like I could fly. I studied ballet intensely through high school and then went on to study at Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. After graduation, I joined Martha Graham Dance Company and danced with them for two years before launching my own company, EHYL Dance.
EHL: What drives you to create dance? What are some of the topics that you explore in your work?
EHYL: As a child of immigrants, I often felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. It wasn’t until I found dance that I realized that there was a community for me – a group of people who understood what it was like to feel like an outsider. That’s what drives me to create work that centers around narratives of the Asian diaspora. In my solo trilogy, “The Weight of Darkness”, I explore topics such as ancestral trauma, cultural displacement, and intergenerational trauma.
EHL: Can you tell us a little bit about your latest project?
EHYL: My latest project is a solo trilogy called “The Weight of Darkness.” The first installment premiered in May 2022 at Joffrey Ballet School, and the second installment will premiere in August 2022. The trilogy is inspired by my own experiences as a Vietnamese American and explores themes of ancestral trauma, cultural displacement, and intergenerational trauma.
EHL: What can audiences expect from “The Weight of Darkness?”
EHYL: audiences can expect to see a lot of darkness…literally. (laughs) But seriously, they can expect to see a lot of emotion – pain, anger, sadness, but also hope and moments of joy. They can also expect to see some very physically demanding dancing as I explore what it means to carry the weight of darkness on one’s shoulders.
EHL: What do you hope audiences will take away from your work?
EHYL: My hope is that audiences will see themselves reflected in my work and feel seen and heard. I want them to know that they are not alone in their experiences and that there is power in telling our stories.
EHL: What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects or performances that we can look forward to?
EHYL: Yes! In addition to continuing to work on “The Weight of Darkness”, I am also working on a new project called “Beyond The Weight of Darkness.” It’s a follow up to the trilogy that will be premiered in 2023. Beyond The Weight of Darkness is about healing from ancestral trauma and reclaiming our power as Asian Americans.
EHL: Thank you so much for speaking with me today!
EHYL: Thank you!