Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company presents "Awakening" at the New York Live Arts Theater


Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company presents 


WHEN: March 24, 25, 26, 2022, at 7:30 pm and March 27, 2022, at 3pm
New York Live Arts Theater, 219 W 19th St, New York, NY 10011
TICKETS: $20, with $15 tickets for students and seniors, and $50 VIP tickets, and can be purchased at

Awakening is the final production of the late choreographer Nai-Ni Chen before her untimely passing in December 2021. This expansive production is the artistic embodiment of Nai-Ni Chen’s observation of and reaction to all of the events that happened around her: the division of society, the quest for social equity, the dual beauty and trauma of isolation, and her hope for unity. Nai-Ni Chen’s signature choreographic style crosses many boundaries as she brings unique elements of Chinese culture into the contemporary dance world. The Company is including her seminal work Incense, as a prayer to her spirit and to remember her choreographic grace and power.

Awakening includes:

One of the last and final work of Nai-Ni Chen, completed by PeiJu Chien-Pott with commissioned music by Jason Kao Hwang, Unity (Premiere) was inspired by the story that a single stick is easy to break, but a bunch is not easily breakable. In this dance, the choreographer integrated numerous elements of Chinese Martial Art into the dance, and all the company dancers received regular training from Martial Arts champion Sifu Yuan Zhang. The story speaks to the power of gathering and Nai-Ni Chen’s hope for community unity during our struggle for equity and anti-hate.

Incense (2003), a dance originally inspired by the sculpture titled Nine Muses by Carlos Dorian installed at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey. The choreographer draws ideas from the offering of incense in the long corridors of an ancient temple in her childhood. The raising white clouds of the incense is said to bring the believer’s prayer from their hearts to god’s ears. The music, by Joan La Barbara, reminds her of the mystical elements of nature and the more abstract, formal elements that gives structure to our faith and thus our lives.

Truthbound (2018) was Nai-Ni Chen’s response to media and Democracy. At this time, everyone is overburdened with news and ideas from every direction, the dance represents Nai-Ni’s reaction to the crisis of faith and trust at this time. Truthbound received critical acclaim in Germany. “In their body and visual language, sensitively creative fantasy, and poetry. Tradition and experiment are combined with dance-like precision and dynamics.” ... writes Volksfreund Critic Eva-Maria Reuther

Shadow Force
(2020) was created during the pandemic mostly on zoom with limited rehearsal with dancers in person. The dance is the choreographer’s response to the effect of the isolation, personal struggle, anti-Asian hate, and the social unrest that was happening around her. Despite the darkness, she said that the ending was her vision of hope through struggle, and that hope is something we all share.

Beginning in 2016, Nai-Ni Chen worked with Aljira Contemporary Arts in Newark, NJ on Introspection (2019), a project where audience members would enter the gallery at night with no light on but were given a flashlight. Dancers would be doing improvised or choreographed movement in front of the paintings, sculptures or art works. The result of three years of Aljira at night is Introspection, a work about the many facets of identity, how we view and treat each other, and how we construct our own identity based on other people’s view about us.

About 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 was a unique artist whose work crosses many 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 created new works that reflect current issues with global influences. Some of her works were developed in collaboration with renowned artists such as the Ahn Trio, Glen Velez, Joan La Barbara, Jason Kao Hwang, Tao Chen, Tan Dun and the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York.

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 Company has presented at some of the most prestigious concert halls such as the Joyce Theater, Lincoln Center in New York, and the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center in Florida. The Company appears annually at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Queens College, the College of Staten Island and on Ellis Island. Internationally, the Company has presented at international festivals including Open Look Festival in Russia, the Silesian International Contemporary Dance Festival, the Konfrontations International Festival in Poland, the Chang Mu International Dance Festival in Korea, the Meet in Beijing International Arts Festival in China, and the Tamaulipas International Arts Festival in Mexico.

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,; write to Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, P.O. Box 1121, Fort Lee, NJ 07024; or call (800) 650- 0246.

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.

Click here to donate to Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company.