(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- The South Orange Performing Arts Center presents the award-winning Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company in a 60-minute virtual presentation Saturday, April 10 at 7:30pm. Sponsored by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company has received more than 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.
Bridging the grace of Asian elegance and American dynamism, the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company is a premier provider of innovative cultural experiences that reflect the hope and energy of the immigrant’s journey. The company’s ground-breaking works have focused on themes from ancient Chinese legends that reflect issues of the present time to purely abstract, contemporary dances inspired by the art of Chinese calligraphy. An Asian-American company that celebrates the cross-cultural experience, the Company’s productions bring forth issues of identity, authenticity, and equality.
The featured dances include two world premieres along with two works created in 2019. The program will also feature an interview with Nai-Ni Chen by renowned dance critic Robert Johnson. She speaks about her inspiration and the deeper themes of each dance, further enhancing audience appreciation of her works.
Luminescence (premiere), with music by Max Richter and featuring dancers Yuka Notsuka and Rio Kakuchi explores the feelings of sanctuary we find in the grace, magic and wonder of nature and reminds us how we coexist with other life forms. This theme highlights our need to honor the beauty in nature and to respect and preserve the environment.
Shadow Force (premiere) with music by Max Richter and Somei Satoh highlights our yearning to connect with others while we are in an isolated state. Featuring dancers Evan Matthew Stewart, Candace Jarvis, Greta Campo, Sonny Shiu, Rio Kakuchi and Ethan Gwynn
Truth Bound (2019) Music by Joan La Barbara, Para Avis and Nocturnal Emissions. Truth Bound was developed as a reaction to the crisis of faith and trust perceived in society today. To find clarity, the seeker for truth must look deeper under the surface to discover the core. To create this dance, Nai-Ni Chen used improvisation and her background in traditional Chinese theatrical movement and various styles of martial art to collaboratively create this piece. Dancers include Greta Campo and Ethan Gwynn.
Introspection (2019) Music by Jacob Ter Veldhuis and Prism Quartet. Normally, dancers are lit by external lights on stage. In this dance, the dancers light themselves from different perspectives and onto each other in order to look deeper into their own identity. Sonny Shiu, Greta Campo, Evan Matthew Stewart and Yuka Notsuka are featured in this piece.
Tickets are $10, and free for SOPAC members. To purchase tickets, contact SOPAC at (973) 313-2787 or available online. The Box Office is currently available by phone M-F, 12-4 p.m.
Nai-Ni Chen Artistic Director/Choreographer has been creating dances professionally for over thirty years in the US. She has built a diverse repertory of over 80 original works and toured to major venues in the US and international festivals in 12 countries around the world. A cross-cultural choreographer who aims to bring audience across the cultural boundaries, she has developed her unique movement and choreographic styles that reflect the grace and splendor of the Chinese cultural traditions she studied in Taiwan since youth and the dynamic spirit of modern dance that she acquired in New York from luminaries such as Mary Anthony, Bertram Ross, Doris Rudko and Patricia Rowe.
Nai-Ni Chen has received multiple years of Choreographer Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. She has been a principal affiliate of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and was a resident artist of the Harlem School of the Arts.
For her contribution to the Chinese American culture, she has received awards from the New Jersey International Institute, the Organization of Chinese Americans, and Chinese American Chamber of Commerce. As a life time dance educator she is the recipient of The Distinguished Service to the Field Award from the Association of Teaching Artistes in 2020. She has also served on Dance related panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, The NY State Council on the Arts and Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.
The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company is a premier provider of innovative cultural experiences that reflect the inspiring hope and energy of the immigrant’s journey. The company’s ground-breaking works have focused on themes from ancient Chinese legends that reflect issues of the present time to purely abstract, contemporary dances inspired by the art of Chinese calligraphy. An Asian American company that celebrates the cross-cultural experience, the Company’s productions naturally bring forth issues of identity, authenticity, and equality.
The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company has been presented at some of the most prestigious concert halls such as the Joyce Theater, Lincoln Center in New York, Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts in California, the Raymond F. Kravis Center, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center in Florida. The company appears annually at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Queens College, the College of Staten Island and on Ellis Island. Internationally, the Company has been presented by international festivals including Open Look Festival in Russia, the Silesian International Contemporary Dance Festival and the Konfrontations International Festival in Poland, the Chang Mu International Dance Festival in Korea, the Meet in Beijing International Arts Festival in China, and the Tamaulipas International Arts Festival in Mexico.
Since 2006, SOPAC has been serving as a premier performing arts center in the region. SOPAC offers innovative artistic and cultural experiences for diverse audiences in an intimate, inviting environment. The arts center hosts a variety of live performances, community events and education programs for all ages. SOPAC is home for Seton Hall University Arts Council’s performances, including Classical Concert Series, Jazz ‘N the Hall performances and Seton Hall University Theatre productions. SOPAC programs are made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. The South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. SOPAC is grateful for the generous support of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and BCB Bank, our season sponsor.