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Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company to Receive Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

originally published: 02/10/2020

Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company to Receive Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company has been approved for a $10,000 Challenge America grant to support Year of the Golden Rat Celebration. This project will support the presentation of the Company's production that will tour throughout the NY and NJ area. Overall, the National Endowment for the Arts has approved 1,187 grants totaling $27.3 million in the first round of fiscal year 2020 funding to support arts projects across the country. The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company is one of 145 Challenge America grants included in this announcement.

The Challenge America funding category offers support primarily to small and mid-sized organizations for projects that extend the reach of the arts to populations that have limited access to the arts due to geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. Each grant is for a fixed amount of $10,000 and requires a minimum $10,000 cost share/match.

"The arts are at the heart of our communities, connecting people through shared experiences and artistic expression," said Arts Endowment chairman Mary Anne Carter. "The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support projects like Year of the Golden Rat Celebration"

"Support from the NEA is vital to the Company's continued effort to create artistic productions that reflects the Asian American community's value and excellence," said Nai-Ni Chen.

The 2020 Year of the Golden Rat marks the beginning of a Chinese Zodiac cycle and the start of a new decade. The Chinese Diaspora around the world celebrate the occasion with abundant food, dance, music and festivity lasting a month long. The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company will celebrate a new beginning with a major event steeped in symbolism inherent in the Chinese American immigrant culture, expressing the Company's role in the arts and the culture of the community.

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Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company presents a series of events for a colorful and vibrant special Chinese New Year Celebration in prominent venues such as the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Kupferberg Center for the Arts at Queens College, College of Staten Island, Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center.

These public programs will feature beautiful dances performed by the Company and special guest artists such as musicians from the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York performing on authentic Chinese instruments Pipa, Dizi, Ruan and Erhu. Before the program, the venue's lobby will be transformed into a Bazaar of Chinese decorations and crafts including demonstration from the world-renowned Papercut master Houtien Cheng.

The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company specializes in "a remarkably smooth blend of the new and the old, as well as a confident, intensely personal approach to nature," says The New York Times, which has described Chen's dancers as "endlessly proliferating forces of cosmic energy."

According to the Chinese calendar, family and friends should expect 12 months of joyful abundance in the Year of the Golden Rat. This lively performance to mark the beginning of the year will warm the hearts and delight the senses of audiences of all ages. Dancers with colorful, elaborate costumes, musicians playing ancient melodies and dazzling acrobats fill the stage. The playful Lions bring joy and good fortune.  The majestic dragons fly out of the ocean and charm the Earth with a spell of peace and wealth.  Exotic music and dance from various parts of the Chinese American immigrant community come together in a show of beauty and excitement. The festivities extend into the lobby, where an arts and crafts display showcases more of the culture and creativity of the Chinese-American community.

To celebrate the beginning of the Zodiac cycle, the Company will again feature immigrant artists from the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York who will bring festival and authentic Chinese instrumental music throughout the festival.

2020 is the Year of the Golden Rat, which is the beginning of the metal cycle of Zodiac animals. The Year of the Golden Rat is expected to be a festive year of great abundance and prosperity. To celebrate the Year of the Golden Rat, the Company has developed a rich and fantastic program that incorporates many positive aspects of Chinese American immigrant culture in the program. This year, Nai-Ni Chen will showcase new work using elements of the Chinese Hakka culture and the stories from the building of the Transcontinental Railroad.

The choreographer and the Company feels that in today's environment, the work of immigrant artist Nai-Ni Chen is especially important as she has been developing works that advocate for the culture of the community, fighting stereotypes and prejudice as an Asian woman artist who is leading a professional dance troupe in America.

Metropolitan area audiences have made this event an annual tradition. For this celebration, Nai-Ni Chen produced a program that introduces the beauty, creativity and diversity of Chinese-American arts in New York and New Jersey through high-quality performance and activities.  

For this year's concert, the program begins with the playful and colorful Lion Dance, a classical favorite that brings joys to everyone.

The Hakka culture, one of China's most well-known groups of Han migrants who moved from the central plains to the coastal area and are early settlers in Taiwan. Later, the Hakka people also migrated to different parts of the world, forming a global network and a distinctive worldwide subculture. The Company will offer a beautiful Umbrella dance using characteristic of the Hakka design and a choreographed dance popular in Southern coastal China.

This year, Nai-Ni Chen will celebrate the beginning of the Chinese American immigration to America. She will present a new dance, "A Ten-Mile Day" to commemorate the exceptional work of the Chinese Railroad workers who built 10 Miles of Railroad in one day during the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad.

In the celebration, Nai-Ni Chen will feature some of her most audience favorite dances including Raindrops, a delightful dance for 4 women celebrating the joy of womanhood and the rain harbor she was born in. The program will also include Whirlwind, the dance conceived by Nai-Ni Chen observing the whirlwind on the Silk Road that made the desert dance with a powerful, dynamic spin that resonates with the beauty of the Uyghurs dance she experienced in Xingjiang.

A Chinese New Year Celebration would not be complete without a visit by the auspicious Dragon. The Company will be performing the Dragon Dance as a conclusion to this fantastic celebration.

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