T.Y. Jung is a South Korean dancer and musical theatre performer with emerging credits in English and French productions across Montréal. He notably comprises one-half of the musical duo ‘The Balcony’, an acoustic pop-rock/folk band he created in 2015 with childhood friend Rhys Sheng. Despite also having been a dancer in his youth, T.Y.’s valued presence in the Montréal artistic community is one of relative recentness.
“All throughout my teenage years I dabbled with so many different things because I didn’t really know what I liked or where I belonged,” he shares with amusement. “Then I did my first musical in 2017, and that’s when I knew I had finally found my place and my people.”
Since responding to the “calling”, T.Y. has risen on the local scene to appear in ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ (MainLine Theatre), ‘Cabaret’ (The Côte-Saint-Luc Dramatic Society), ‘Shrek: the Musical’ (WISTA), and ‘Légalement Blonde’ (CoMUM).
When prompted to speak about the kind of works he’s drawn to, he cites a regard for sincerity in storytelling. “I want art to feel real,” he explains. “I’m mainly a performer who presents a form of art that was made by someone else, and so for me it’s important to show the true emotion of the original work that was created. Nowadays, I’m also specifically trying to find material that is challenging to me.”
On the opportunities for the expression of his particular identities on stage, he reflects: “I’ve gotten to play some gigs highlighting queer artists of colour, and in those environments, there’s always the question of ‘how do tell my story?’. What I’ve actually realized, though, is that I don’t necessarily need to talk about being a person of colour for my work to be relevant in that way. I don’t always need my art to talk about me being queer in order to be a queer artist. The representation – just being on a platform and having that voice be heard – is what’s most important to me.”
True representation of the diversity of Montréal on stages and screens are among his greater hopes for the artistic community as it rebuilds from crisis. “I’d like to see casts and crews in this industry that are reflective of the city we live in.”
“In general, I hope we all come to acknowledge these differences that exist in society. Recognizing our privileges as individuals is the first step in finding a solution. Then we need to be having conversations about these issues – especially in educational environments. I wish they’d discussed more about LGBTQ+ stuff in high school, you know? It’s so important for the coming generations to know everything that exists in this world. Hopefully we get to see that change from now on.”