(MONTCLAIR, NJ) -- Dance on The Lawn: Montclair's Free Outdoor Dance Festival mourns the loss of fellow New Jersey dance artist Nai-Ni Chen, founder, choreographer, and Artistic Director of the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company. Nai-Ni died in a swimming accident while on vacation with her family in Hawaii on Sunday, December 12. The news is covered here.
Nai-Ni Chen served as a panelist and mentor for Dance on the Lawn’s "Emerging Commissioned NJ Choreographer" program, was scheduled to be on the DOTL stage in 2020 but transitioned to the DOTL virtual festival created that year in response to the Covid pandemic; Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company presented at DOTL in September 2021, when the Festival returned to live performance. DOTL was also proud to share the stage with Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company in 2016 for the new program, Dance Newark!
“We at DOTL were lucky to have been colleagues with Nai-Ni in dance. She always said, ‘I am happy to help.’ We are so honored to have shared so many precious moments. Our deepest condolences go to Andy, the dancers, Board members, many students, and other family members of Nai-Ni, as well as all those who are grieving this tragic loss to our dance community,” said Charmaine Warren, Founder/Artistic Director and Laura Marchese, Managing Director of Dance on the Lawn.
Nai-Ni Chen came from a rich dance tradition. She was a renowned traditional dancer in Taiwan where she was born and served on several ambassadorial culture missions to nineteen countries around the world, including a one-month engagement on Broadway in the Minskoff Theatre. An early member of the Cloud Gate Dance Theater of Taiwan, she graduated from the Chinese Cultural University and came to America to seek her own voice in the world of contemporary dance. Since the inception of her Company in 1988, Ms. Chen has created a rich and wide-ranging repertory, collaborating with a diverse group of musicians, artists, and cultural bearers. Touring over 25 years around the United States, her company has presented in major performing art centers and communities covering the continental United States.
Founded by Montclair resident Charmaine Warren in 2014, Dance on the Lawn hopes to increase New Jersey’s exposure to dance by bringing professional and emerging companies, plus students of dance from around the state, together to perform in a community setting. In addition to offering presentation opportunities, Dance on the Lawn created an “Emerging Commissioned New Jersey Choreographer” and mentor program to help support young, emerging artists.