(MONTCLAIR, NJ) -- Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company will be a part of Dance on the Lawn on September 9, 2023 at 3:00pm, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church (73 S. Fullerton Ave) in Montclair. The Company will be performing one of Nai-Ni Chen’s most beautiful duet, created in collaboration with the world renowned Ahn Trio, Lullaby for my Favorite Insomniac, part of their 2015 production, Temptation of the Muses, which toured 7 states across America. The dance will be performed by company members: Esteban Santamaria and Rio Kikuchi. Dance on the Lawn is free.
Rio Kikuchi was born in Tokyo, Japan. At age of 3, Rio began ballet training at Studio Benus in Japan and later she was introduced to Tap and Jazz. She took Summer Intensive at Kirov Academy of Ballet of Washington DC in 2015. She also studied Ballet technic and Point work privately with Luis Villanueva. In 2017, Rio moved to New York and was offered Scholarship to study at The School of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. In addition, she received a scholarship at Alonzo King Lines Ballet Summer Program in 2019. She has worked with Ronni Favors, Darshan Singh Bhuller and peformed “Memora” with Alvin Ailey Dance Theater at New York City Center in 2018. She has been a member of the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company for more than 5 years.
Esteban, Santamaria, Dancer, is from Colón, Panamá, graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BFA in dance from the "Universidad de Panamá" and from "The Ailey School". Esteban is a former company member of the Ballet Nacional de Panamá and Graham II. Later, Esteban joined the Martha Graham Dance company in its European tour. This is his second year with the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company.
“Dance on the Lawn” celebrates dance in New Jersey and aims to increase exposure to dance by bringing professional and emerging companies, plus students of dance from around New Jersey together in a community setting that is free and open to the public. Since their inception in 2014, they have presented New Jersey School Performing Groups, New Jersey Professional Companies including 10 Hairy Legs, Maurice Chestnut’s Dance Therapy, Freespace Dance and Carolyn Dorfman Dance, plus New York Professional Companies including Seán Curran Company, Janice Brenner and Dancers, works by Troy Powell (Artistic Director, Ailey II), Ballet Hispanico Dos, DanceGrandMoultrie, Keigwin & Company and Stephen Petronio Company.
Additionally, each year they select and support an “Emerging Commissioned New Jersey Choreographer” with performance opportunities guided by a mentor. Robert Mark Burke was chosen in 2015, Kyle Marshall in 2016, Lauren Connolly in 2017, Javier Padilla in 2018, Oluwadamilare 'Dare' Ayorinde in 2019 and Amber Sloan in 2020/2021. Laura Marchese served as Managing Director for 9 years. Charmaine Warren is the guiding force behind "Dance on the Lawn: Montclair's Dance Festival."
Bringing the dynamic freedom of American modern dance together with the elegant splendor of Asian art, the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company is one of the most visible Asian American dance companies in America. Bessie award winning choreographer Chen's unique choreography transports audiences beyond cultural boundaries to the common ground between tradition and innovation, discipline and freedom, and form and spirit.
Since its inception in 1988, the company has earned a broad base of public support and has toured extensively to major performing arts centers throughout more than thirty states. Presented by some of the most prestigious concert halls in the United States, from the Joyce Theater in New York to the Ordway Center in Minnesota and the Cerritos Center in California, the Company has mounted more than twenty national tours and nine tours abroad. Ms. Chen’s work has been presented by such acclaimed international festivals as the Silesian International Contemporary Dance Festival and the Konfrontations International Dance Festival, both in Poland, the Chang Mu International Arts Festival in Korea and the Meet in Beijing International Arts Festival. The Company was also honored by a distinctive grant award from both the President's Committee on Arts and Humanities and the Department of State to represent the United States in a seven-city tour arranged by the Tamaulipas International Arts Festival in Mexico. Also, the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company has the unique honor of having received more than fifteen awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and numerous Citations of Excellence and grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
In addition to its extensive season of touring and performing, the company has developed Arts in Education residency programs in school districts to bring culture and arts into educational settings. It’s colorful and engaging in-school assembly program “The Art of Chinese Dance” has been presented in hundreds of schools in NJ, NY, CT and PA, reaching hundreds of thousands of youth. The Company is currently in-residence at New Jersey City University’s A Harry Moore School for 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.