Norwegian-Thai dancer performs a personal story

Norwegian-Thai dancer Phitthaya “Sun” Phaefuang on Thursday said that his performance at the Taipei Arts Festival next weekend has been choreographed to embody the concept of gender while highlighting his mother’s past as a sex worker.

The 50-minute solo performance titled Realness: Luk Kreung pays tribute to Sun’s mother though choreography that features several styles of the modern dance form known as voguing, Sun said.

The performance additionally incorporates concepts such as classical female dance, dharma practice and walking meditation, Sun said.

“I want to express my understanding and compassion for what my mom went through as a sex worker in Thailand when she was very young, and my recognition of her ability to survive,” Sun said. 

“Also, I wish to highlight the huge role migration plays in giving hope for a better future,” he added.

Sun said the term luk kreung in the title is usually used in Thailand to describe children from cross-national families, such as his.

Born in Thailand in 1988 to a Thai mother and French father, Sun and his twin brother moved to Norway with their mother when they were three years old.

The move to Europe was prompted by his mother’s romantic involvement with a Norwegian soldier, Sun said, adding that he never knew his biological father.

Nine years later, their mother placed the two boys for adoption and returned to Thailand as she was suffering from depression, a part of Sun’s history that is depicted in his dance piece.

Sun remained with his adoptive parents and twin brother in Norway where he studied at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in modern and contemporary dance.

In 2012, one year after he graduated, Sun moved back to Thailand, where he has been building a reputation as a trailblazer in the country’s voguing scene.

He has been winning competitions in numerous voguing styles, such as sex siren, vogue femme and runway.

The performance pays tribute to his mother’s life experience, which he also perceives as helping to shape his creativity, he said.

Another aspect of the piece spotlights gender, using a combination of vogue femme and traditional female Thai dance moves, Sun said, adding that his goal is to help people see beyond binary genders.

“You’re probably going to witness a new gender performance on the stage,” he said. “I don’t think there is just masculinity and femininity. There is a huge diversity of gender energy, gender performance and genders.”

The performance is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the Taipei Performing Arts Center, with audiences restricted to those aged 18 and over, as there is some nudity.