Julia Cheng

Hip Hop Dance - Shortlisted 2019

Cheng’s work investigates identity, gender and displacement - largely through her own experiences as a first generation British-born Chinese artist. Born in Luton, she grew a passion for dance, applying to study it at university. She was rejected, but it turned out to be a good thing as she went to an open dance class and met her mentor Stuart Thomas, who instilled her two core dance values: integrity and generosity.

Cheng’s integrity could be seen in Orlando Warrior shown at the Southbank Centre, and the V&A. A solo piece of hip-hop contemporary dance it was an intensely personal performance which explored her relationship with her father. Her generosity was evident when returning to her home town in 2017 to share her piece called Human Jukebox (2017, Imagine Luton Festival) she encouraged as many people as possible to join in the experience in the town centre.

A versatile performer and choreographer, in 2014 she founded House of Absolute, an all-female collective of multidisciplinary hip-hop dancers. Cheng’s technique continues to grow from breaking the expectations of given styles. She crosses genres by combining her hip-hop foundation with contemporary dance, music, painting, visual art and poetry.