Dancer/choreographer Chu returning for convention, but that's just the beginning


Peter Chu has spent a lot of time traveling — dancing, teaching, creating choreography — in the years since he was a cast member of Celine Dion’s “A New Day.”

In fact, Chu has spent so much time traveling lately that he hasn’t been able to spend much time in Las Vegas, which he considers home.

“I pay taxes in Vegas and I have a storage unit in Vegas,” Chu says with a laugh during a recent phone call. “I reside in Vegas, but I don’t live there.”

That’ll change soon, because Chu is looking for a home here . But, in the meantime, he at least can return to Las Vegas next week — and for several days straight, even — as a faculty member for the 24 Seven Dance Convention National Finals, Sunday through July 19 at the Hard Rock Hotel.

“It’s a special dance convention,” Chu says, and marks the culmination of a process that included regional conventions in 15 U.S. cities during the past eight months.

The Las Vegas event will include classes, performances and dance competitions. Danny Wallace, executive director of the 24 Seven Dance Convention, notes this is the national event’s first year.

Wallace says the public can view individual competitions during the event at no charge (visit www.24sevendance.com for a schedule and more information).

“Anyone interested can see some amazing dancers,” Wallace adds.

Chu has enjoyed his tenure as a faculty member for the event. “It’s a well-respected faculty,” he adds. “I’m just so appreciative to be teaching alongside these artists.”

Actually, Chu enjoys teaching in general, and in whatever forum or setting.

“I’m an educator at heart, I think,” he says. “I’m always learning. But it’s an opportunity for me to share my knowledge and training and education and background with the next generation. That’s always important to me.”

The next generation of dancers is “our future,” Chu adds. And, from what he’s been seeing, he’s optimistic about this next generation of American dancers.

“There are some incredible movers,” Chu says. “I’m learning from these kids.”

Chu was born in Bronx, N.Y., but headed south to Cocoa Beach, Fla., at about age 3.

“It’s interesting, because a lot of people ask me what was my inspiration for dance, what’s my journey. But, to be honest, it wasn’t necessarily something with dance. It was music. Music was my inspiration. My mother was my first music teacher. She instilled passion for the arts and music into my life.”

Chu also was heavily into gymnastics as a kid. Then, he says, “long story short, they said, ‘You need ballet.’ My sister was taking ballet at a dance studio and I started to train in dance. I was probably 12 and I was doing both gymnastics and dance.

“Ultimately, I turned to dance because I love music.”

Chu graduated with a bachelor of fine arts degree from The Juilliard School. Although he had begun choreographing as a teenager, it was at Juilliard that Chu came to realize that “I was a choreographer and not just a dancer and a mover. That was when I knew I needed to be a director and a choreographer and a dancer on top of it.”

Chu has performed all over the world in a variety of projects and in a variety of styles. His resume includes dancing with Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, touring with the Kidd Pivot dance company and dancing in Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts” music video. His honors include the 2010 Capezio A.C.E. Award for choreography, and his choreography credits include pieces for Orlando Ballet, Houston Metropolitan Dance Company and San Diego Dance Company. His choreography also was featured on the ninth season of “So You Think You Can Dance?”

And, of course, there’s Celine. Chu admits he wasn’t terribly familiar with Las Vegas when he visited in January 2005 for an industrial hairstyling show. It turned out that the show’s director also was working on “A New Day” and called Chu a month later when the show needed a replacement dancer.

“That was such a blessing,” says Chu, who danced in “A New Day” from May 2005 until the show’s closing in December 2007. “It was just an incredible, enriching experience.

“I loved every moment of it. And Celine Dion, not only is she, of course, amazing and talented, but watching her work and her generosity made me respect her even more.”

After “A New Day” closed, “I basically went and created other shows,” Chu says.

He started his own company — chuthis — toured, and worked on an eclectic roster of projects ranging from classical (ballet) to commercial (working with a Vietnamese pop singer).

“I just love movement,” Chu says.

And, now, he hopes to spend more of his time creating in Las Vegas.

“I love creating all my shows here,” Chu says. “I know the city now and I want to be a part of this. It’s very important to me. I’m such a community-based person. I have that at heart, but I’ve been on the road pretty much my whole professional career.

“In fact, I’m really looking forward to it. I’m bringing back ‘Nothing Sticks,’ a show I created, back to Las Vegas this fall, and I’m looking to premiere a new show of mine next spring. I want to have all of my premieres in Las Vegas.”

Why Las Vegas? “Because of what’s going on there in the community,” Chu says. “It might be a small community, but I love the range of art that is being created out there. I find it spectacular.

“And I don’t like separating entertainment and art. I think they go hand in hand. That’s just who I am: I value all aspects of entertainment-slash-art, and what’s going on in the downtown scene is thriving. Since 2005 I’ve been watching the growth, and I really want to be a part of that.”

Contact reporter John Przybys at jprzybys@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0280.

 

Rules for posting comments

Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Stephens Media LLC or this newspaper. This is a public forum. Read our guidelines for posting. If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon next to the comment.