Photos C/O Trevor Copp

By: Jackie McNeill

Tottering Biped Theatre, a Hamilton-based theatre company founded by Trevor Copp, has reached over 600,000 views on a TED Talk about ‘liquid lead dancing,’ a gender neutral form of partner dancing.

Several McMaster alumni are involved in the theatre company, particularly with their summer Shakespeare work held at the Royal Botanical Gardens.

The theatre is social justice-focused, devising works that have addressed issues like poverty, same sex marriage and mental health and different interpretations of Shakespeare.

However, as prominent as the theatre’s work is, it is not what Copp is arguably best known for.

In 2015, he and his colleague Jeff Fox delivered a TED Talk in Montreal on a dance concept they developed called ‘liquid lead dancing.’

Liquid lead dancing, a form of gender neutral partner dance, was born out of Copp’s discomfort with the systems and rules he was perpetuating as a ballroom dance teacher.

As explained in their TED Talk, the strictly gendered partner dancing promotes a relationship shaped by dictation, where the man leads and the woman follows.

He and Fox developed liquid lead dancing to turn this dictation into a negotiation.

It proposes a system where lead and follow are exchanged throughout the course of the dance regardless of gender,” Copp explained.

This change of form will hopefully become normalized as a dance and help to normalize healthy relationships outside of partner dance as well.

The liquid lead dance between Copp and Fox morphed into a play about creating the first dance for a same sex wedding.

After a successful run of the play, a former student contacted Copp about presenting their dance form as a TED talk.

Copp and Fox’s TED talk was picked up by TED.com, and has over 600,00 views to date.

Despite the success of the TED talk, Copp admits that it has not been all smooth sailing promoting liquid lead dancing.

“Most people are comfortable with their given role, and, even though they aren't particularly traditional in their thinking, allow it to decide their roles as dancers. There's comfort in the familiar. I don't begrudge it at all. I just think that if you're going to recreate a culturally outdated form you should be conscious of it by making a choice to do so as opposed to sleepwalking your way through the dance form.”

Acknowledging that the work he had done with liquid lead dance is not that well-known in Hamilton, Copp is aiming to work harder at spreading the dance form in the future.

As explained in the TED Talk, liquid lead dancing is not about dance alone.

By addressing the strict roles perpetuated in partner dancing, Copp and Fox have begun to address the erasure of non-binary people and same-sex couples in dance, in addition to the exclusion of Black, Asian and other non-white bodies.

By bringing these issues that are prevalent within ballroom and partner dance to a wider audience with the TED Talk and Copp’s theatre company, the same issues that are prevalent in everyday life stand a better chance at being addressed.

Copp has performed liquid lead dance at conferences throughout Ontario, New York and Ireland and is looking forward to next presenting at a conference on consent and sexuality with Planned Parenthood in Virginia.

 

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By: Sonia Leung

A quick review of the Billboard Top 40 hits would reveal the gaping lack of variety in repertoire on any given week. Homogeneity in popular music is not a new complaint, but a lesser acknowledged and comparably prevalent sentiment is the lack of diversity in colour.

Asian voices are hard to find in North American music. I lament my inability to name many notable Asian musicians, though I suspect that my inability to list them is a shared phenomenon among most of us. One artist who comes to the forefront of my memory is Bruno Mars, who is half Filipino.

If you strain harder, you might recall Steve Aoki, who is Japanese.

Where are they in the music scene, especially in Hamilton’s? Their lack of presence in the North American music is disproportionate to their presence in our world, and in our city.

If your upbringing was like my own, you likely grew up to Avril Lavigne and Simple Plan, then moved on to Metric and Arcade Fire.

These artists and their work were the pillar of my musical education, the core tenets of my identity. If music were a language, then these artists spoke mine.

Our one-way conversations were integral in my formative years.

Each song brimmed with teenage angst (not unlike myself) and made me feel heard. It is this nature in music that renders it such a powerful medium.

As a Hong Kong-born immigrant who was raised in Canada, there were no mainstream North American artists who sang about my narrative, no voice that fully described the reality I experienced. 

When you hear a song you can relate to, complete with your fears, worries and doubts, you know that you’re not alone in your struggle. Relatable songs are a comfort.

While I fully endorse the artists that comprised my teenage iTunes playlist, which was largely indie rock, and consequently monochromatically White, I am cognizant of not having a fully relatable role model.

My childhood idols sang about high school social dynamics, prepubescent awkwardness, suburban tedium and existential dread, all of which rang true with my world.

None, however, struck every string in the chord. As a Hong Kong-born immigrant who was raised in Canada, there were no mainstream North American artists who sang about my narrative, no voice that fully described the reality I experienced.

At present there is an unreached demographic of angsty Asian teenagers who are aching to hear angsty songs about the immigrant and model minority tropes, but have to settle for All American Rejects.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Emman Alavata, frontman of Post Romance, previously known as Detour.

Post Romance made their mark as the champions of last year’s Battle of the Bands, and have since released their EP Nowhere Land.

Unlike the archetypal indie rock band, Post Romance is headed by a Filipino frontman and Chinese lead guitarist. Alavata recalled that on stage at the 2017 Battle of the Bands, he was one of three Asian musicians who performed that night.

“I didn’t think we would win that night,” explains Emman, who cites the absence of Asian artists as the reason for not expecting to win.

His doubts aren’t unfounded. A common frustration the band faces is the confusion between Alavata and Victor Zhang, the Asian members of Post Romance.

The two are repeatedly mistaken for each other and are not taken seriously when they correct the misnomer. Another grievance is that people who meet the band usually expect the lead singer to be someone White, and greet the band with surprise upon realization that Emman was not White.

These encounters sound familiar to me. A year or two ago, my band and I played at a variety show at a local pub.

Our band’s sound was still developing, but took shape of ambient indie. I was the lead singer and the only person of colour on stage, and yet, we were introduced as “a taste of China” and “sounds from the East”. I am not from China, nor do I bring “sounds from the East”.

Change is on the horizon, however, and Post Romance is riding the wave.

Another notable Hamilton act is Union&Kay, comprised of Christopher Nguyen and Sheena Kay, an up and coming jazz-pop duo.

There is room for more colour in our palette and this is the proof and precedent.

“If you have a voice, it shouldn’t matter if you are male or female, or any skin colour,” explains Alavata,

“As long as you can connect with people, that’s all that really matters.”

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In addition to the few existing establishments that serve Asian food, restaurants that feature new-wave food trends from Asia such as dessert bars, snack joints and tea houses have been popping up left and right in Hamilton in recent years.

These spots may be newly-minted in our Steel City, but have been rife in Asian metropolitan hubs such as Taiwan and Hong Kong for years.

It’s nice to see that there are more places for international and Asian-Canadian students to go for their version of comfort food, and for people of other cultures to have opportunities to experience different types of cuisine.

Here is a list of Asian spots, both old and new, for you to visit, whether to satisfy your cravings or to expand your horizons:

1. Crystal Dynasty Chinese Restaurant

Crystal Dynasty has been a long-time staple for authentic, delicious, affordable Chinese food in Hamilton. This is one of the few spots in the city where I can find the tastes that truly remind me of home, a sentiment that many of my Chinese peers have shared. (Trust me, that’s a big deal.)

Although they have a variety of stir-fry plates and other Chinese dishes, their main draw is their specialty dim sum. The dim sum is made fresh daily and so true to tradition that it has kept locals returning for years. Regardless what you choose off the menu, you’ll be in for some scrumptiously authentic Chinese family fare at a great price.

2. Sugar Marmalade

Sugar Marmalade is the newest and most notable addition to Hamilton’s dessert offerings.

Although its primary draw is authentic Taiwanese desserts, Sugar Marmalade boasts an extensive menu that will satisfy more than just your sweet tooth.

There are shareable appetizers for guests to munch on (Taiwanese style popcorn chicken and spicy curry fish/beef balls are a must) and entrée options for those who are stopping by for more than just a quick bite.

Make sure you leave room for Dessert, it's perfect way to round off the weekend! ????Golden Macau pudding ????Oreo milk tea

A post shared by Sugar Marmalade (@sugarmarmalade) on

Of course, no Taiwanese joint is complete without specialty drinks, of which there is a grand variety, from fresh juices,  to Italian sodas and bubble teas galore.

They offer traditional Taiwanese/Chinese desserts, including many flavours of Taiwanese shaved ice, specialty thick toasts and fusion desserts such as crepes, puddings and cheesecakes. The endless choices on the menu may be overwhelming, but it’s reassuring to know that any choice you make will be a tasty one.

Also be sure to check out 8090 Tea House (149 King Street East) and Hazel Tea and Dessert House (1686 Main Street West) for similar delicacies.

3. Porcelain Hot Pot & Lounge and Liu Liu Hot Pot

To clarify, hot pot is a type of cuisine in China, Taiwan and other East Asian countries that consists of cooking a variety of ingredients in a simmering metal pot of stock at the centre of the dining table.

Typical ingredients include thinly sliced meat, vegetables, dumplings and seafood. Once cooked, the food is dipped into a variety of sauces to add different flavours.

Hot pot reminds many people of Asian descent of home, myself included. This is a meal that would typically be eaten on cold, winter nights at supper time, with an entire family sitting around the table cooking food for one another.

In Hamilton, Liu Liu Hot Pot has been around for years, but remains as one of the city’s best spots for a fresh, affordable and authentic hot pot meal. Its patrons adore the cozy interior and the great selection of ingredients, especially for their all-you-can-eat hot pot option.

They also have delicious broth bases and make their dipping sauce using a secret family recipe.

Porcelain Hot Pot is a newer addition, but also features an authentic hot pot experience closer to campus. Customers often commend the quality of their broth and ingredients, two essential aspects to a high-quality and tasty hot pot meal.

2013 Food Trends

Asian Comfort Food

If you’ve ever watched an animated film or television production exported out of South East Asia, it is likely that you will agree that nothing looks more delicious than animated food drawn by the hands of Japanese graphic artists. From colourful bowls of noodles to sugar-coated confectioneries, cartoon food has been delectable to viewers since the early days of Sailor Moon and her donut obsession. And guess what? All of those colourful creations, are real. With the growing love of noodles and soups like Pho and Ramen, restaurateurs are taking note and making them a staple in more mainstream and western restaurants and chains.

Looking for some Asian comfort food in the Hamilton area? Check out:

Pho Dau Bo - 15 Cannon Street East
Saigon Asian Restaurant - 1024 King Street West

Cauliflower

Not too many people are pleased to hear about the rise o

f this flowery, tree-like vegetable, but true enough, this crumbly bland veggie is up and coming in the food world. Taking over for 2012’s kale trend, cauliflower is predicted to be the next hipster fun food. And although it has an unfriendly demeanour, mashed cauliflower is a carbohydrate-free alternative to conventional mashed potatoes, and a little seasoning can jazz anything up.

Looking to try something new with the caul’? Try this easy recipe:

Ingredients:

-        1 medium head of cauliflower
-        2 cloves of garlic
-        1-2 tbsp butter
-        2 tbsp sour cream or Greek yogurt
-        Milk and salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Steam cauliflower and garlic until tender (10-15 minutes)
  2. Mash the cauliflower and garlic
  3. Mix in butter, sour cream/ yogurt, milk and salt and pepper

Donuts

Associated with gluttonous cops and balding characters on long running television series, donuts have not had the most glamorous of reputations. But, long gone are the days of cupcakes and macaroons, donuts are the new ‘it’ dessert and will be available at more bakeries and on more menus. With both poached and baked options and unique new flavours like salted peanut and chocolate chip, the donut is receiving a makeover.

Looking for donut fun in the Hamilton area? Try:

Sweet Paradise - 630 Stone Church West

Hot Sauce

In an attempt to spice things up (ha), many chefs and foodies have decided to embrace the Sriracha - along with its spicier South American and Caribbean counterparts - and amp up the flavour on certifiably bland staples like soups, sandwiches and nachos. This year, look forward to requiring a glass of milk along with your food to tone down the shiny new spicy flavours. But hey, spicy food has been known to boost serotonin levels and lower blood-pressure.

Top hot sauces from a girl raised by Caribbean parents:

Tabasco Red Pepper Sauce - $7
Matouk’s Hot Calypso Hot Sauce - $5.50
Hot Mama’s Red Pepper Jelly - $8

Home Grown/ Vegetarian

They’re pretty, they’re healthy, and they’re trendy. Vegetables are the new meat, apparently, and you can look towards more vegetarian options at your favourite local hangouts. As more and more jump on the veggie, vegan and pescatarian train, restaurateurs are taking note and catering to the demand. If you love meat, fret not, it’ll still be around, but try branching out into some of these delicious new meatless options.

Opinions Editor Mel Napeloni’s favourite vegan-friendly dishes in the Hammer:

Injera from Wass - 207 James Street South
Orange Vegan Chicken from Affinity - 87 John Street South
Sauteed Cactus from MEX-I-CAN - 107 James Street North

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