Arizona Dance Coalition Statewide Calendar of Events
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H.T. Chen & Dancers: Performance Offerings
December 16, 2021
H.T. Chen & Dancers is a leading Asian American contemporary dance company based in NYC. Artistic Director, H.T. Chen is known for having created a body of work addressing Chinese American labor and immigration. The company conducts extensive educational programs in NYC, has been presented by Lincoln Center Institute, the Kennedy Center, and many sites in the US including ASU Gammage – Public Events. In 2021, H.T. and his Associate Director/Education Director Dian Dong created a K-12 curriculum for Dance Education Lab titled Tracing Footsteps – Into the Heart of Chinatown, Hidden Voices.
In late January-early February 2022, H.T. Chen & Dancers will be sharing an excerpt of a signature work, “South of Gold Mountain” with Desert Dance Theatre. Performances of the combined cast will be offered to schools and community as part of a cultural diversity program, lecture demonstration or mini-residency presentation.
Desert Dance Theatre will ultimately recast the work entirely with Arizona performers and be able to present the work throughout 2022. Both H.T. Chen & Dancers and Desert Dance Theatre have a long history of programs based on cultural diversity as well as educational programs for their communities. This marks the first time that another company will perform an excerpt of South of Gold Mountain.
Created through oral histories, the excerpt ”Box Dance,” was inspired by small, family-run Chinese grocery stores throughout the American southern and southwest states. Through playful and imaginative partnering, the daily tasks of stocking shelves and lifting boxes celebrates work ethic and community building.
Early Chinese settlers called America “Gold Mountain” because of the California Gold Rush in the mid 1800’s. The title South of Gold Mountain has two meanings: it refers to a geography – the southern states, and implies that there were hardships as in the saying “when things go south”.
“As an original cast member of H.T. Chen’s South of Gold Mountain, I have a close personal connection to the history of Chinese grocers in the south, because it’s my family’s story, a part of American history unknown to many and rarely taught in the schools. ” – Lisa Chow
“Meaningful cultural presentations bring greater awareness and appreciation of the building of America. I am pleased to partner once again with Lisa Chow and her talented artists.” – H.T. Chen
Here is an interview from 2013, based on the development of South of Gold Mountain while the piece was in progress. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JigsHHIFb4I
While in residence, members of H.T. Chen & Dancers will conduct a Master class open to community dancers and dance educators on the company’s foundational movements based on Yin/Yang principals and planal organization.
Covid Guidelines: As a precaution to the continued Covid pandemic and its unpredictability, proof of vaccination (cards) and wearing masks will be required in enclosed/indoor dance studio and performance spaces at all times.
H.T. Chen studied traditional dance and Chinese Opera Movements at the University of Chinese Culture in Taiwan, attended The Juilliard School as a dance major, and received a master’s in Dance Education from NYU. Dian Dong graduated from The Juilliard School, and performed in the companies of Kathryn Posin, Anna Sokolow, and toured with The King & I. Together, they founded Chen Dance Center’s school and theater in the heart of Chinatown, NY.
Despite the displacement from a major fire in 2020 followed by the pandemic and xenophobia, H.T. Chen & Dancers is still thriving. Recently, the company restaged H.T. Chen’s Hidden Voices at Williams College and presented numerous outdoor performances in NYS and MA. Both H.T. and Dian served as Grand Marshals of the 2021 Dance Parade, and will be featured in the oral history collection at the NYPL – Jerome Robbin’s Dance Division.
H.T. Chen & Dancers will be in Arizona at the end of January through the beginning of February 2022. If interested in booking a presentation, please contact Lisa R. Chow at 602-740-9616 or gro.ertaehTecnaDtreseDnull@asil. www.DesertDanceTheatre.org
PHOTO CREDIT: H.T. Chen & Dancers, Photos by Joe Boniello @joeboniello
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