(NEWARK, NJ) — The critically acclaimed film Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company presents the Year of the Water Tiger at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) during a family matinee on Saturday, May 21, 2022. Paying tribute to the incredible dancer, choreographer and educator Nai-Ni Chen, this marks the Return of the company at NJPAC following Chen’s untimely passing in December 2021. The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company has been a valued presence at NJPAC since its opening in 1997.
In addition to the vibrant dance commemorating the Year of the Water Tiger, NJPAC will also host the innovative classical music group, the Ahn Trio. (Program details are below.)
The afternoon begins with demonstrations and fun activities organized in the hall before the show. The Year of the Water Tiger celebration combines the elegance of traditional Asian art and the beauty of modern American dance with thrilling choreography, exotic music and dazzling acrobatics. Audiences get closer to the thrilling sights of dancing lions and dragons, the sing-song sound of Chinese pipa and erhu, and vibrant gold and red costumes and props.
On stage, the first part of the program begins with one of the most popular Chinese New Year dances Double Lions Welcome Spring and the most colorful traditional Chinese dances in the repertoire, Festival and Dragon Dance. In between is one of Na-Ni Chen’s most iconic dances, Raindrops, which takes the audience back to the choreographer’s childhood. To express the company’s hope for the next generation, company director Ying Shi presents Green Lotus of eight young dancers from her academy.
In the second half of the program, Nai-Ni Chen’s dancers pay homage to the grace and power of Nai-Ni Chen’s work by performing his signature work, Incense. Chamber music ensemble Ahn Trio make their NJPAC debut. Hailed by the Los Angeles Times as “demanding and exciting musicians”, the three sisters (pianist Lucia, violinist Angella and cellist Maria) have earned a distinguished reputation for embracing 21st classical music of the century with their unique style and innovative collaborations. Trio Ahn are longtime collaborators of Nai-Ni Chen and they will perform Bach’s Ave Maria; Concrete Stream with music composed by Kenji Bunch, their first collaboration with Nai-Ni Chen, and Skylife, one of their flagship works.
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The program concludes with UNITY, one of Nai-Ni Chen’s latest works, completed by PeiJu Chien-Pott, the company’s current Director of New and Creative Dance who worked with composer Jason Kao Hwang to finalize the powerful work that is the urgency of Nai-Ni Chen. call to the world.
Combining the grace of Asian elegance with American dynamism, the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company is a leading provider of innovative cultural experiences that reflect the inspiring hope and energy of the immigrant journey. The company’s groundbreaking works have focused on themes ranging from ancient legends that reflect the issues of the present day to purely abstract contemporary dances influenced by a mix of cultures that Nai-Ni Chen experienced in New York. An Asian American company that celebrates cross-cultural experience, the company’s productions naturally raise questions of identity, authenticity and equality. The company’s repertoire is based on the works of its recently deceased founder, choreographer/dancer, Nai-Ni Chen, who is a unique artist whose work crosses cultural boundaries. Each of her dances reflects her personal vision as an American immigrant and female artist deeply rooted in Asian culture. From this very personal perspective, she creates new works that reflect current issues with global influences. Many of his works have been developed in collaboration with renowned artists such as the Ahn Trio, Glen Velez, Joan La Barbara, Myung Hee Cho, Karen Young, Bei Dao among others. Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company is currently led by Artistic Director Greta Campo, Traditional Dance Director Shi Ying and Contemporary/Creative Dance Director PeiJu Chien-Pott.
The company has presented in some of the most prestigious concert halls such as the Joyce Theatre, Lincoln Center in New York and the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center in Florida. The company performs annually at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Queens College, College of Staten Island and Ellis Island. Internationally, the company has performed at international festivals including Open Look Festival in Russia, Silesia International Contemporary Dance Festival, Konfrontations International Festival in Poland, Chang Mu International Dance Festival in Korea , the Meet in Beijing International Arts Festival in China and the Tamaulipas International Arts Festival in Mexico.
Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company has received over 20 awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and numerous Citations of Excellence and grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. To advance dance education, the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company is currently in residence at the University of New Jersey City, pioneering a program with the university’s A Harry Moore Laboratory School, teaching dance to disabled children in cities.
The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located at One Center Street in downtown Newark, NJ, is America’s most diverse performing arts center and New Jersey’s artistic, cultural, educational and civic hub – where great shows and events enhance and transform everyday life. NJPAC brings together diverse communities, providing access to all and showcasing the best artists from across the state and around the world while acting as a leading catalyst in the revitalization of its hometown.
Through its extensive arts education programs, NJPAC shapes the next generation of artists and art lovers. NJPAC has welcomed more than 10 million visitors (including more than 1.9 million students and families) since its opening in 1997 and maintains meaningful and lasting relationships with each of its members.