Interdisciplinary dance works giving artistic voice to Asian Americans

World Premiere of “Beneath The Surface” 10/6 – 10/14/18!

BTS excerpts October 2018 from Lenora Lee on Vimeo.


Asian Improv aRts and API Cultural Center present

The World Premiere of

Beneath The Surface

A new underwater, multimedia experience by Lenora Lee Dance


Saturday, 10/6 – 8:30pm

Sunday, 10/7 – 6:30pm & 8:30pm

Saturday, 10/13 – 8:30pm

Sunday, 10/14 – 6:30pm & 8:30pm

Performances will begin on time, please arrive early.


Lenora Lee Dance (LLD) celebrates its 11th Anniversary Season with the World Premiere of Beneath The Surface, LLD’s first underwater, multimedia experience premiering in a two-week run 10/6 – 10/14/18. Beneath The Surface serves a meditation on forgiveness, reconciliation, and redemption, speaking to the power of individuals to transcend.

Audiences are reoriented for a unique perspective that merges memory, contemporary reality, and social commentary, experiencing epic storytelling inside an underwater world.



Conceived, Produced & Directed by Lenora Lee

Choreography by Lenora Lee in collaboration with performers Yi-Ting (Gama) Hsu, Hien Huynh, SanSan Kwan, Johnny Nguyen

Music Score by Tatsu Aoki, with Kioto Aoki, JoVia Armstrong, Rami Atassi, Suwan Choi, Coco Elysses, Jamie Kempkers, Edward Wilkerson Jr., Avreeayl Ra

Media Design by Olivia Ting & Lenora Lee

Videography Directed by Lenora Lee

      Filmed by Lenora Lee, Shannon Preto, Joel Wanek

Text by Carl Irons

Voiceover by Hien Huynh

In Water Consulting by Edward Goo


YMCA of San Francisco Chinatown Branch
855 Sacramento (between Stockton & Grant)


Portsmouth Square Parking Garage
733 Kearny (between Clay & Washington)



There are a VERY LIMITED number of tickets available. Purchase your tickets early!


Arts Patron – $60 (reserved seating & invitation to VIP celebration with the cast on 10/22/18)

General Admission – $40

Seniors 65+, Students with Valid ID – $30

Standing Room Ticket – $25

You can sign up online on the Waitlist if General admission tickets are sold out, however we are filled to seating capacity for almost all shows.

If a show is completely SOLD OUT, there may be a limited number of tickets for sale at the door, depending on availability. Those arriving without a ticket can put themselves on the Waitlist at the venue. The tickets will be released by Waitlist order and ONLY if space allows.

If there are Standing Room tickets, but no seated tickets available online for a show, we recommend purchasing the Standing Room tickets, rather than arriving with no ticket at all. We cannot guarantee admission if you arrive without the purchase of a ticket beforehand.

For more info:
For questions or high resolution images, email, (415) 913-8725

We encourage guests with special needs or questions to contact us in advance.




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Press Coverage for “Within These Walls”

“‘Beneath the Surface’ may be the hottest ticket in town…The world premiere is another bold undertaking for San Francisco choreographer Lenora Lee…”
– Ruthe Stein, San Francisco Chronicle Datebook, August 22, 2018

“As it unfolded, I spun my own narrative from the fragments of spoken text and the poetic grappling of the dancers—on video, live on the pool deck, and underwater.”
– Carla Escoda, KQED Arts, October 2, 2018


“What struck me most was how Lee managed to embed the narrative into the installation’s structure. It shows how carefully Lee wove the narrative into everyone’s experience, including the viewer’s.” – Heather Desaulniers, Dance Commentary, 2015

“It starts with one dancer and eventually blooms to six and looks as if the dancers are exploding out of the film and into the world.” – John Wilkins, KQED, 2016


Audience Feedback for “Within These Walls” (2017) by Lenora Lee Dance

“It was a truly unique and powerful experience, and I feel fortunate to have witnessed it. It snuck into my dreams last night.”

“Moving and beautifully rendered.”

“I was deeply affected and moved by the performance.”

“It was brilliant and emotionally powerful.”


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LLD’s work integrates contemporary dance, film, music, and research and has gained increasing attention for its sustained pursuit of issues related to immigration, global conflict, and its impacts, particularly on women and families. The company is directed by San Francisco native Lenora Lee, who has been a dancer, choreographer and artistic director for the past 20 years in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. In 2013 she was an Artist Fellow at the de Young Museum, a Djerassi Resident Artist, and was a Visiting Scholar at New York University 2012-2016. She is currently an Artist in Residence at Dance Mission Theater. LLD creates works that are both set in public and private spaces, intimate and at the same time large-scale, inspired by individual stories as well as community strength. For the last ten years, LLD has been pushing the envelope of large-scale multimedia dance performance that connects various styles of movement and music to culture, history and human rights issues. Its work has grown to encompass the creation, presentation and screening of films, museum and gallery installations, civic engagement and educational programming.


Olivia Ting (media & graphic design) is interested in the role of digital technology in the fabric of contemporary lives and how our perception of recorded media (film, photography, audio) as “reality” has shifted as technology becomes more sophisticated. olivia has done design work for San Francisco dance Center, San Francisco Performances, and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.


Tatsu Aoki (music) is a prolific composer, musician, filmmaker, and educator. Based in Chicago, Aoki works in a wide range of musical genres, ranging from traditional Japanese music, jazz, experimental and creative music. Aoki studied experimental filmmaking at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is currently an adjunct Full Professor at the Film, Video and New Media Department, teaching film production and history courses. To this date, Aoki has produced and appears in more than 90 recording projects and over 30 experimental films.


Carl Irons (text) is a writer, poet, and actor who performs public readings and is occasionally privileged to collaborate with some very talented people. Carl also holds a BA in Political Science and has completed significant post graduate work in the field of Public Administration.


Yi-Ting (Gama) Hsu (dance), was born and raised in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and loves to create and share. She has trained in various techniques in dance such as contemporary, ballet, modern, Chinese martial art, Chinese folk dance, Tai-chi initiation, composition, choreography and improvisation. Yi-Ting is a graduate of Tsoying High School, and received her BFA from University of Taipei of the Arts. She moved to San Francisco in 2015 and has danced with Hsu Chen Wei Production, Les Petites Choses Production, David Harrera Performance Company, Lenora Lee Dance, Alyssandra Katherine Dance Project, Epiphany Dance Theater and Kinetech Arts. She’s choreographed “Shi-Ben-Jao-Tu”, “Goodnight Mom”, “Allow”, “coinciDance” and “Arcane keys”. Yi-Ting has produced shows during her studies in Taiwan.


Hien Huynh (dance) was born in Da Nang, Vietnam. Through embodied practice, Hien endeavors to access channels with the inner and outer to circulate awareness and human compassion. He is honored to have performed in the works of Lenora Lee Dance, Kim Epifano, Robert Moses’ Kin, Kinetech Arts, PUSH Dance Company, The MoveMessenger(s) and punkkiCo. 


SanSan Kwan (dance) teaches dance and dance studies at UC Berkeley.  She has performed with Jonathon Appels, Joanna Mendl Shaw, Chen and Dancers, Maura Nguyen Donohue/In Mixed Company, and composer Scott Rubin, among others. This is her seventh year with Lenora Lee Dance.  


Johnny Huy Nguyen (dance) is a dancer, performance artist, and hip hop educator. In 2007, he was on course to complete a graduate degree in mechanical engineering, but dance completely changed the direction of his life. In addition to Lenora Lee Dance Company, Johnny is a member of Embodiment Project, and has completed productions with Kularts and the Global Street Dance Masquerade. In all of his work, Johnny’s vision is to use his craft and creativity to activate dialogue, healing, and action in ways that are raw, vulnerable, and honest.


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Beneath The Surface is supported in part by San Francisco Arts Commission, Kenneth Rainin Foundation, Zellerbach Family Foundation, Asian Improv aRts, Asian Improv aRts Midwest, Chinese Historical Society of America Museum, Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center, San Francisco Grants for the Arts, Portsmouth Plaza Parking Corporation, DAE Advertising, Donaldina Cameron House, Oakland Asian Cultural Center, Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation, and Generous Individuals. Special thanks to Alson & JoAnn Lee, Andy Chu & Aquatics Staff at the YMCA of San Francisco Chinatown Branch.

Sponsored by the YMCA of San Francisco Chinatown Branch. Our mission is to build strong kids, strong families and strong communities by enriching the lives of all people in spirit, mind and body. The Chinatown Y serves over 4,900 individuals a year of all ages with offerings in after school, health and wellness, teen, enrichment, aquatics, and community services. We are committed to building equity through our diversity, inclusion and global engagement efforts. We work to ensure that everyone, regardless of ability, age, cultural background, ethnicity, faith, gender, gender identity, ideology, income, national origin, race or sexual orientation has the opportunity to reach their fullest potential.



PHOTOS by Robbie Sweeny & courtesy of Lenora Lee Dance, featuring:

  1. SanSan Kwan
  2. Yi-Ting Hsu
  3. Hien Huynh
  4. Hien Huynh & Johnny Nguyen
  5. Yi-Ting Hsu, Hien Huynh & SanSan Kwan
  6. Johnny Nguyen & Hien Huynh
  7. SanSan Kwan

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