What Happened in Shanghai

Australia, China

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What do we inherit from family tragedies in times past? Would we have a different opinion of an austere grandmother had we known her in her youth?

Drawing on her family roots in Shanghai, choreographer Victoria Chiu interrogates how the contemporary body can illuminate different attitudes towards family – and why families make the often difficult decision to move their home across borders.

Four dancers explore the spaces between death and new life, influenced by the resilience passed down from their female ancestors. The dancers weave through vignettes and emotions that cross time and culture, responding to the (dis)connections between their lives and that of their grandmothers. ‘What Happened In Shanghai’ is an intimate multi-disciplinary work told through English and Chinese text, personable projections and the body, with live music by Guzheng player Mindy Meng Wang and Chinese electronic artist MHP (aka Ma Hai Ping).

This evocative collaboration begins like the sharing of a story and unfolds as a contemplation of our connections in the present.

Respecting and acknowledging the Convent’s past

This performance will take place in the North Magdalen Laundry within the heritage-listed Abbotsford Convent precinct. The Convent’s Magdalen Laundry and asylum buildings are recognised as an important physical record for those Australians and their families known as the Forgotten Australians. We recognise and honour the thousands of girls and women placed in care at the Convent, including those who laboured in the Laundry. The harm of institutionalisation and the trauma experienced by many residents is acknowledged as part of the Convent’s heritage. The Magdalen Laundry provides space for artists, audiences and communities to experience new practices, narratives and histories, while respecting the heritage and social history of these spaces.

  • Victoria Chiu
  • Multicultural Arts Victoria
  • Creative Victoria


Victoria Chiu
Choreographer/ Dancing for Kristina Chan
Alice Dixon
Lui Ya Nan
Janette Hoe
Isabelle Beauverd
Guo JinXin
Video Artist/ Set Designer
Mindy Meng Wang
Musician/ Guzheng
Electronic Musician
Bronwyn Pringle
Lighting Designer
Harriet Oxley
Costume Designer
Kristina Chan
2017 Collaborator and Dancer