Woman Yong, Tina

Sarawak, Malaysia
Artistic Director, Choreographer and Dancer

Written by Grace Edwards, The University of Melbourne

Born in Sarawak, Malaysia in 1959, Tina Yong arrived in Australia in 1979. Though she had always enjoyed a keen interest in dance, it was not until she arrived in Melbourne that she began formal classical training, taking classes in ballet, character and contemporary dance at the Victorian Ballet School under Dianne Parrington. Whilst undertaking this training, she completed a science degree from LaTrobe University in accordance with her parents' wishes, and also qualified as a teacher through the University of Melbourne.

Yong was a founding member of Chandrabhanu's Bharatam Dance Company, leaving in 1996 to pursue her own choreographic and dance interests. As an independent artist she has worked with the Victorian State Opera and has been featured in the work of a number of Australian choreographers including Don Asker and Kim Walker. Yong also worked closely with Sun Ping as co-director of Wu Lin Dance Theatre. She now works on her own, offering performances, dance workshops and special projects to schools and the wider community.

Though her movement vocabulary is heavily influenced by her earlier experience with Asian dance forms and genres, her works are contemporary and Australia-focused. Both through her work and off stage, Yong has communicated publicly about identity issues that face ethnic dancers working in Australia, 'We think of ourselves as Australians but it's not always as straightforward as that ... We don't want to be boxed as ethnic dancers. We would like to contribute to an Australian dance culture' (Canberra Times, 15 May 2000).

The concerns of Chinese women have often been considered in her work, for instance, in Nushu: The Women's Script. Inspired by historical texts, this work engages with the concept of female agency and equality between the sexes. In her personal life, Yong has also discussed her own struggle with societal expectations of women, particularly in relation to being a mother in a financial unstable career and working in a field regarded by onlookers as one occupied by the youthful (Interview with Michelle Potter, 2001).

Archival Resources

National Library of Australia Oral History Collection

  • Tina Yong and Sun Ping interviewed by Michelle Potter, Keep Dancing Oral History Project, 23 February 2001, ORAL TRC 4686; National Library of Australia Oral History Collection. Details

Published Resources

Edited Books

  • Whiteoak, John and Scott-Maxwell, Aline (eds), Currency Companion to Music and Dance in Australia, Currency House in association with Currency Press, Sydney, New South Wales, 2003, 55; 123; 355 pp. Details

Newspaper Articles

  • Potter, Michelle, 'A migrant's tale in dance', Canberra Times, 15 May 2000. Details

Online Resources

See also