Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, a rare Asian American women-led dance company, has been mourning the loss of its artistic leader Nai-Ni Chen for the past week. Ms. Chen is an embodiment of immigrant Chinese American dance artists who came to America to contribute to the world of dance and has since created a company with deep roots in many aspects of community life. Her sudden passing also leaves a legacy of 30 years of work to create cross-cultural dances that empower the next generation of immigrant artists and honors diverse influences in mainstream American culture.To ensure Ms. Chen’s legacy continues to flourish, grow, and inspire the generations to come, the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company Board of Directors and Executive Director Andrew Chiang announce the appointment of three new artistic leaders for the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company.
To ensure Nai-Ni’s extensive efforts in preservation and education in the Chinese American community and her work in introducing the dances from her heritage to all the communities continue, the Company appoints Ying Shi (left)as Choreographer/Director of Traditional Dance and Preservation. Ms. Shi danced with Nai-Ni Chen from 2013 to 2018 as a soloist and Chinese Dance specialist. She has since created one of the largest community dance studios in the NY/NJ Chinese American community with locations in Flushing and Livingston, NJ. She is highly respected among her peers and has followed Nai-Ni Chen every step of the way since she came to the United States. Shi Ying said: “I joined Nai-Ni Dance Company when I first arrived in New York, focusing on the Chinese dance program, and inheriting knowledge from Teacher Nai-Ni each step along the way. From 2013 through 2018, I worked full-time with Teacher Nai-Ni, spending a lot of time in rehearsals and doing teaching exchanges. We performed and taught together—from elementary schools to colleges, throughout New York and New Jersey—bringing the beauty Chinese dance to American audiences. In 2019, I created my own two New Jersey dance schools in Flushing and Livingston, while still having opportunities to perform with and learn from Nai-Ni. Teacher Nai-Ni is my mentor, who taught me how to be a good actress, a good teacher, and a good cultural messenger in New York City. I am heartbroken to lose her and will miss her forever!”
The Board and Executive Director Andrew Chiang also wish to express sincere gratitude towards the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company dancers, who have unanimously committed to work together to ensure the Company’s work continues to bring joy and hope to the community.
Please join us to congratulate the team and support them on this new journey to help the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company to achieve its mission.
About the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company
“Chen's phrases, part exoskeletal rigidity, part boneless grace, embodied an epic dignity.” —Village Voice
Choreographer/Dancer, Nai-Ni Chen, is 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 creates new works that reflect current issues with global influences. Many of her works have been developed in collaboration with renowned artists such as the Ahn Trio, Glen Velez, Joan La Barbara, Myung Hee Cho, Karen Young, Bei Dao among others.
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 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. For additional Company information, visit their website, www.nainichen.org; write to Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, P.O. Box 1121, Fort Lee, NJ 07024; or call (800) 650- 0246.