Laurie Young

Article Bio Works Projects
identity, pop-culture
Performing Arts (dance, dance / choreography)
America, North, Europe, Western
Canada, Germany
created on:
May 30, 2003
last changed on:
Please note: This page has not been updated since July 2, 2003. We decided to keep it online because we think the information is still valuable.
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´Where are you really from?´

Born in Toronto in 1973 as the daughter of Hong Kong immigrants, Laurie Young is a dancer in the company Sasha Waltz & Friends. In May, 2000, her first solo choreography, “Brand New Bag”, revealed her preoccupation with her ethnic origins and the aspects of pop culture which have shaped her identity.
“Brand New Bag” is a very laconic account of the role of global pop culture in the life of individuals and of the difficulty of finding a place of one´s own in the jungle of citations from music, video-clips, fads and fashions. With sticky tape, birdsong and sprayed perfume, Young marks her own place as a synthetic idyll, but as culture in the form of radio recorders also begins falling from the sky, she has to wear a bricklayer´s helmet and begins losing her sense of balance till she finally clears most things away, as if no one can make headway against the clichés of global culture.

In a talk in the autumn of 1999 with Johannes Odenthal, responsible for music, dance and drama in the House of World Cultures, this dancer and choreographer spoke about her experiences as a person and as an artist:

´The approach to dancing in Europe and Canada is ver different. I think that there is much more improvisation in Europe. There is much more exchange between the performer and the choreographer, and I like that very much.´

´And culturally? Is Canada your homeland?´

´Canada is my homeland, Berlin too. I have two homelands.´

´You also have Asiatic roots.´

´Well there´s a whole Chinese-Canadian story. I belong to the first generation. In other words, my parents immigrated from China or rather from Hong Kong. Ethnic origins will always play an important part in one´s identity. The first thing I am asked in Canada and especially in Germany is where I really come from. That´s really a very personal question! Folk see my non-white appearance and seem to feel more at ease on having put me into a pigeon-hole, and of course ethnic origins are especially important in my case. But being Asian is not very specific and revealing, and the image of Asians is due to many and often mistaken assumptions. How does being Asian affect me; how does it affect other folk; and what repercussions does it have on me? There are many features in my identity, but being Asian is certainly a main one in others´ eyes, whatever it may be for me.´

´And is this relationship between ethnic origins and cultural surroundings also important for you on-stage, for your artistic development?´

´Yes, sure. In effect my development depends on how I am seen. I want to have the right to say no to things which I find besides the point and put me in an awkward position. Yet... what does an Asian body on stage represent? Do folk see a movement in other terms only because they think of me as being Asian? Naturally, dancing has also to do with that.´
Author: Franz Anton Cramer 


Laurie Young was born in Toronto in 1973 as the daughter of immigrants from Hong Kong. The family moved later to Ottawa, where Laurie Young began training to be a dancer. In 1996 she got to know Sasha Waltz at a workshop and was invited to join her Berlin company Sasha Waltz & Guests. Young was in the premiere of “Allee der Kosmonauten” (1996) as well as in “Na zemlje” (1998). Since the spring of 2000 she has been a member of the ensemble at the Schaubühne on Lehniner Platz, where she has danced in the productions “Körper, S” and “17-25/4”.


“Cheap Jewellery, a Vegetable Basket for J.S.”

Production / Performance,
a theatrical project choreographed and co-directed by her and co-produced by Podewil and the Volksbühne on Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin, as part of the festival “Rich and Famous”

"Brand New Bag”

Production / Performance,


This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the partner institutions.

Homeland Art (HeimatKunst)

Cultural Diversity in Germany

(01 April 00 - 02 July 00)