Interdisciplinary dance works giving artistic voice to Asian Americans

New York Premiere May 8 & 9, 2014 at Asia Society!

The Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University and Asia Society present

By Lenora Lee Dance with Kei Lun Martial Arts & Enshin Karate, San Mateo Dojo

THURSDAY, MAY 8, 2014 · FRIDAY, MAY 9, 2014 · 8pm
Asia Society
725 Park Avenue

General Admission & Asia Society members:
A/P/A Institute members:

Tickets: $15 general public, $10 Asia Society members, $12 students/seniors. Groups of 8 or more people can purchase at a discount. Email for group discount code. For tickets / info (212) 517-2742 or visit

Directed by A/P/A Institute at NYU Visiting Scholar LENORA LEE, the interdisciplinary performance works The Escape Rescued Memories: New York Stories are engaging and heartfelt pieces in which dance, martial arts, film, text and music collide in a visual and aural landscape, a meditation on women being propelled into the unknown by courage and faith to risk their lives and everything they have for freedom. Performed by an Asian American cast of 10 dancers and martial artists from San Francisco and New York City, these works utilize the interplay between live performance and film.

Through the cinematic recreations of actual experiences in key historic locations of San Francisco and New York City Chinatowns, overlaid with voiceover of first hand accounts, contracts and court documents found in the archives at Donaldina Cameron House and the Library of Congress, Lenora weaves together a powerful and evocative collage of stories highlighting the lives of women who were at the forefront of the early Chinatown communities, who through the resilience and triumph over unimaginable experiences, were grounding forces in the creation of these communities during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Rescued Memories: New York Stories retraces the life of Bessie M. Lee (Bessie You Toy-b. 1894), who, after migrating to New York City, spent two years in indentured servitude working for a wealthy Chinese family. The Escape is inspired by a girl who sought refuge from exploitation in San Francisco at Donaldina Cameron House, a faith-based social service agency that today continues to serve Asian communities living in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

Click on the link below for video clips of both pieces:

These companion pieces detail stories of women who became vulnerable upon their arrival in the United States. They shed light on the experiences of these women in the context of the social history for Chinese in America as well as in the struggles and achievements of the 20th Century Women’s Movement. The works connect these experiences with today’s fabric of organizations and individuals that are on the front line of the contemporary struggle against the exploitation of women and children in our communities.

Featuring media design by Olivia Ting, videography directed by Tatsu Aoki, music score by Francis Wong, and text by Genny Lim. Performed by Juliet Ante, Kelly Del Rosario, Raymond Fong, Larissa Fong, Marina Fukushima, Chin-chin Hsu, Lynn Huang, Wei-Shan Lai, Lenora Lee, Olivia Ting.

Both evening’s performances will be followed by special conversations featuring the artists, community organizers, and scholars. On May 8, Karen Shimakawa (Chair, Performance Studies, NYU Tisch School of the Arts) moderates a post-performance conversation featuring Lenora Lee, Larry Lee (Executive Director, New York Asian Women’s Center), and Kaitlyn Keisel (Director, Polaris Project New Jersey).

On May 9, Dan Bacalzo (NYU Drama Department and Hunter College Asian American Studies Program) moderates a post-performance conversation featuring Lenora Lee, Purvi Shah (non-profit consultant, anti-violence advocate, and writer), Annie Fukushima (Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Associate, Women’s and Gender Studies and the Institute for Research on Women, Rutgers University), and Song Kim (Kirkland and Ellis Fellow, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund).

Lee’s kaleidoscopic dance views can be visually arresting but it’s provocative storytelling around universal themes that forms the heart of many of her works, including her latest. – Mary Ellen Hunt, San Francisco Chronicle 2012

I can’t think of any choreographer who has taken an approach as simultaneously intimate and large scale as Lenora Lee. In her work, the personal and the political intertwine inextricably.– Rita Felciano, SF Bay Guardian 2012

Cultural History Meets Multimedia: Stories of Chinese Women Immigrants by Emily Wilson, featuring Cindy Liou of API Legal Outreach, poet Genny Lim, Lenora Lee

These pieces were created and premiered with support from Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University, Asia Society, Asian Improv aRts, API Cultural Center, Asian Women Giving Circle, California Arts Council, Cameron House, CA$H, a grants program administered by Theatre Bay ARea in partnership with Dancers’ Group, Chinese Historical Society of America Museum, de Young Museum, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Lighting Artists in Dance Award, Puffin Foundation, San Francisco Arts Commission, WKK Donor-Advised Fund of the San Francisco Foundation, Zellerbach Family Foundation and Generous Individuals. Special thanks to Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, Asian Women’s Shelter, and New York Asian Women’s Center. Photo by Robbie Sweeny

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