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Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company Announces 2024 Season

originally published: 09/11/2023

Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company Announces 2024 Season

(FORT LEE, NJ) -- The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company has announced a season of performance, residencies, and exciting community activities that features new works, new productions, and most importantly welcomes new choreographers, dancers, artists, and collaborators to create groundbreaking work that bridges the cultural divide, gives honor and justice to diverse heritage, and amplify the artistic voices seldom heard outside the immigrant community.

The Company Company will be working on new works to be premiered later in the season with two Chinese American artists: Lawrence Jin and Aloe Liu, who will work with dancers on new dances that reflects each artist's heritage and their deep understanding of the culture and its connection to the world in which we currently live.

Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company 2024 Season Events:

October 1, 2023 – Tennessee Presenters, Knoxville, TN  

January 9-10, 2024 – Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts, Toms River, NJ

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January 13-14, 2024 – AAPI Dance Festival at APAP Conference at Ailey CitiCorp Theater, New York, NY

January 19, 2024 – Omaha Performing Arts Center, Omaha, NB

January 24-27, 2024 – Kupferberg Center for the Performing Arts, Queens, NY

January 28, 2024 – Hostos Center for Arts and Culture, the Bronx, NY

February 3, 2024 – McLean Community Center, McLean, VA

February 10-11, 2024 – New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Newark, NJ

February 25, 2024 – Flushing Town Hall, Queens, NY

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February 27-28, 2024 – Enrichment for the Arts, Staten Island, NY

About the Artists:

Aloe Ao Liu is a performance artist, dancer and choreographer. She is currently the Performance Director with CAAM Chinese Dance Theater in St. Paul. Aloe performed extensively throughout China, Asia and Europe including the Shanghai World Expo and the Beijing Olympics. She was a principal and soloist for 8 years with China's most renowned dancer/director Liping Yang, otherwise known as the "Peacock Princess". During this period Liu performed in world famous Chinese dance productions including "Dynamic Yunnan", "A Shangri-La Spectacular", "The Beautiful South.” A graduate of the Yunnan Arts Institute, her contemporary dance performances have been shown in Kunmng, Macau and the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis, MN recently.

Lawrence Jin began his dance training in his native hometown Hohhot, Inner Mongolia. China Lawrence graduated from the Beijing Dance Academy in 1986 and received the Best Performance Award in the National Professional Taoli Cup Dance Competition, the highest honor in Chinese Dance. He became a Principal in the Beijing Youth Dance Company, touring around the world. In 1990, he moved to NYC from Beijing and studied at Martha Graham Modern Dance School. In 1993, he joined Bella Lewitzky Dance Company in LosAngeles as principal dancer. He toured with the company nationally and internationally for 10 years. In 2003, he moved back to NYC and met Nai Ni Chen that year. In recent years, he has been teaching dance at FA Dance School in Livingston, New Jersey, one of the largest Chinese Dance academies in the State. Meanwhile, he also served as a judge in many Chinese dance competitions held by Chinese and American Dance Association in LA.

PeiJu Chien-Pott - Director of Contemporary/Creative Dance is an internationally acclaimed contemporary dance artist from Taiwan, described as “one of the greatest living modern dancers” , celebrated particularly for her work as Principal Dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company and her performances in the iconic roles of the Graham repertory. On the theater stage, PeiJu was a Principal Actress in the latest Kung Fu musical “Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise” commissioned by The Shed and choreographed by Akram Khan. She holds a BFA in Dance from the prestigious university, Taipei National University of the Arts where she’s honored with an “Outstanding Alumni Award”. Her many awards include a Bessie for “Outstanding Performance”, Positano Premia La Danza Leonide Massine for “Best Female Contemporary Dancer”, Capri International Dance Awards, included “Best Performers” in the 2014 and 2017 Dance Magazines, and numerous awards in her native Taiwan. PeiJu currently serves as a faculty member at The Ailey School and her commercial work is represented by MMG New York.

Ana Rokafella Garcia is a NYC native who has represented women in Hip-hop dance professionally over the past two decades. She co-founded Full Circle Prod Inc, NYC’s only nonprofit Hip hop Dance Theater company, with her husband Kwikstep generating theater pieces, dance training programs and NYC based dance events. She directed a documentary highlighting the Bgirl lifestyle entitled All The Ladies Say with support from Third World newsreel. She is hired internationally to judge Break dance competitions based on her mastery of the classic Hip-hop dance style and to offer her unique workshops aimed at evolving and preserving its technical and cultural aspects. She has worked within the NYC public school system and various NYC based community centers setting up programs that help expose young students to the possibility of a career in dance. In May of 2017 she launched ShiRoka-- a t shirt fashion line with Shiro a Japanese Graffiti artist. She has been featured in pivotal Rap music videos, tours, film and commercials as well as choreographed for diverse festivals/ concerts such as Lincoln Center Out of Doors, MoMa’s Hip-hop Kitchen and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Branching out of her dance lane, she has also recorded original songs / poetry and performed at NJPAC’s Alternate Routes and Little Island festival. Presently she is an adjunct professor at The New School and a DANCE NYC Annual Symposium planning committee member. Rokafella is a multi faceted Hip-hop artist who references street and Nuyorican culture as her foundation.

Hip-Hop Dancer/Choreographer/DJ/Actor/Artistic Director/ Gabriel “KWIKSTEP” Dionisio was born and raised in New York City. Between the age of seven and eight Kwikstep was inspired by Soul Train, the Jackson 5 and the Duo “Shields and Yarnell” and started doing “The Robot”. Later he began to pursue the techniques known as Popping, Boogaloo and Locking . In the early eighties when he attended local block parties, roller skating rinks and clubs, he joined his friends who were breaking and was slowly becoming well rounded in all the street dance styles. His first tour was with the “New York Express” to a 12-city tour around China at the age of nineteen. By 1991 he had won a Bessie award for choreography and founded the internationally known Full Circle Productions with his wife Rockafella. Today, he is an international icon in breaking and is best known for his smooth style, versatility and signature head spins. Kwikstep has performed in PBS's Peabody Award-winning "Everybody Dance Now," the Great Performances 20th Anniversary Special, and Kurt Weill's "September Songs," which was nominated for an Emmy Award. He was a principal dancer in companies such as Rhythm Technicians and GhettOriginal who were the creators of “Jam on the Groove” which was nominated for a Drama Desk Award in 1996. Will Smith called on Kwikstep to represent breaking in the new millennium performance in Washington D.C for Bill Clinton. He has done commercial work for Dr. Pepper, Levi’s, Stride Gum and a Spike Lee commercial for He has also appeared in films, TV and video work which include Brown Sugar starring Sanaa Lathan, Missy Elliott, KRS-One, Fabolous and VH1 Hip Hop Honors to name a few.

Choreographer/Dancer, Nai-Ni Chen, was a unique artist whose work crosses cultural boundaries. Each of her dances reflect her personal vision as an immigrant and an American female artist with deep roots in the Asian culture. From this very personal perspective, she created new works that reflect current issues with global influences. Some of her works were developed in collaboration with renowned artists such as the Ahn Trio, Glen Velez, Joan La Barbara, and the members of the New Asia Chamber Music Society. 

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 inspiring hope and energy of the immigrant's journey. The company's ground-breaking works have focused on themes from ancient legends that reflect issues of the present time to purely abstract, contemporary dances influenced by a mix of cultures Nai-Ni Chen experienced in New York. An Asian American company that celebrates cross-cultural experience, the Company's productions naturally bring forth issues of identity, authenticity, and equality.

The Company has presented at some of the most prestigious concert halls such as the Joyce Theater, Lincoln Center in New York, and the 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 presented at international festivals including Open Look Festival in Russia, the Silesian International Contemporary Dance Festival, 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.

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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. Advancing Dance Education, the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company is currently in residence in New Jersey City University pioneering a program with the University's A Harry Moore Laboratory School teaching dance to urban children with disabilities.

Programs of the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company are made possible by the generous support of our Board members, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, The Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation (MAAF), the New Jersey Cultural Trust, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, The New Jersey Arts and Culture Recovery Fund administered by the Princeton Area Community Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Hyde and Watson Foundation, E.J. Grassman Trust, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, New Music USA, the Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Dance/NYC Dance Advancement Fund, the Rapid Response Program of American Dance Abroad, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters' Cultural Exchange Fund, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, PSEG, Proskauer, WAC Lighting, and the Glow Foundation and the Dragon and Phoenix Foundation.



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