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Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company to Perform at The Jamaica Dance Festival

originally published: 06/05/2023

Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company to Perform at The Jamaica Dance Festival

Photo by Chris Nicodemo,

(QUEENS, NY) -- Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company will perform at The Jamaica Dance Festival 2023, presented by A Better Jamaica, on Saturday, June 10, 2023 at 7:00pm. The festival takes place at Rufus King Park in Jamaica, Queens. The presentation is the Company's third time returning to the festival to meet the diverse audience members of the Jamaica community.

The Jamaica Dance Festival was the first to invite the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company during the pandemic when only outdoor performances were possible.

The Company will show the following iconic works by the late choreographer Nai-Ni Chen (1959-2021).

Raindrop - One of Nai-Ni Chen’s most well-known dances. The choreographer draws inspiration from her childhood memory of the Taiwanese city in which she was born, Keelung, also known as the Rain Harbor.

Crosscurrent - a duet in which the physical tension between the dancers reflects the meeting of two cultures. Like two rapid streams flow together, there is tension, but also sparkles and splashes, creating passion and strength of this dialogue. This tension abates as rival currents begin to mingle, and a new vision emerges from harmony and love.

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Peacock Dance - There are more than 55 ethnic groups living in China, and each group has unique dances and music. The peacock is considered a sacred bird among the Dai people in the Yunnan province. Because of the performers’ supreme grace and elegance as peacocks, this dance is one of the most beautiful from that province. Many of the movements in this piece derive from real actions of the peacock, such as drinking water, walking, running, and grooming its feathers. The solo musical instrument for this dance: hulusi was originally used primarily in Yunnan province by the Dai and other non-Han ethnic groups but is now played throughout China. The hulusi has a very pure, clarinet-like sound.

The Way of Fire - An exploration of the ancient Chinese theory that the cycles of creation and destruction correspond to the ever-changing phenomena of nature. The “Five” refers to the five elements: wood, water, fire, metal, and earth. The cycles are also used to mark the passage of time. For instance, this year is the year of the Water Tiger. Each element, as part of the forces of nature, creates another in harmony and destroys another in conflict. This exploration focuses on the element of “Fire”, which is used to extract metal, and can be destroyed by water.

Neptune’s Dialog (1993) - One of Nai-Ni Chen’s personal favorite dances, Neptune’s Dialogwas created in memory of her childhood. She grew up in Keelung, Taiwan. The beautiful rain harbor is close to one of the island’s most scenic beaches, YehLiu (Wild Willow) Beach/Park in Taiwan. The white sand beach is dotted with a unique geological feature, the world's only remaining mushroom (xun) stone landform. It is a magical place to which she hopes to bring the audience in this work.

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 and assisting NJCU in the development of a new BFA in Dance.

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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