Interdisciplinary dance works giving artistic voice to Asian Americans

World Premiere of “Convergent Waves: SF” Thursday, June 9, 2022


Asian Art Museum, Lenora Lee Dance, Asian Improv aRts, and API Cultural Center present 

World Premiere of Convergent Waves: SF by Lenora Lee Dance

From the award winning site-responsive, multimedia dance company Lenora Lee Dance, comes their newest performance piece Convergent Waves: SF, engaging viewers across the country in 2022 and 2023. Audiences are guided through a journey set in the Asian Art Museum to see unfolding stories of community agency, resilience, and transformation. Visitors experience a collective statement for the preservation of community, as neighborhoods across the country face cultural erosion, loss of businesses, and displacement through the pandemic and gentrification.

at Asian Art MuseumThursday, June 9, 2022

6:00 – 7:00pm, and 7:30 – 8:30pm

Performances will begin on time, please arrive early.

These performances are also part of Asian Improv aRts’ 35th Anniversary programming and Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center’s United States of Asian America Festival.


LOCATIONAsian Art Museum

200 Larkin Street (at McAllister St)

San Francisco, CA  94102 or (415) 581-3500

Click here for parking & transportation

Click here for Covid-19 protocol


ADMISSION $10 plus museum admission

For more info:,  

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

The Asian Art Museum strives to be welcoming and accessible to all. Please visit our Accessibility page to see a full list of accommodations, including complimentary assistive listening devices, ASL interpretation, and wheelchairs. Please note that for some accommodations, we require at least two weeks advance notice.

IJ Chan, Naoko Brown, Johnny Nguyễn, photo by LeeDaniel Tran



Lenora Lee Dance (LLD) integrates contemporary dance, film, music, and research and has gained increasing attention for its sustained pursuit of issues related to immigration, incarceration, global conflict, and its impacts, particularly on women and families. The company 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, at times crafted for the proscenium, or underwater, or in the air, and at times are site-responsive, immersive and interactive. For the last 14 years LLD has been pushing the envelope of large-scale multimedia, and immersive 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.

Conceived, Produced & Directed by Lenora Lee

Choreography by Lenora Lee in collaboration with the performers 

Performers / Dance Collaborators: Naoko Brown, IJ Chan, Flora Hyoin Kim Han, Lynn Huang, SanSan Kwan, Johnny Huy Nguyen

Media Design by Lenora Lee 

Interviewee Voiceover by Malak Alameri, Asala Alhanshali, Amalia Avendando, Martha Jaime, Junjie Lin 林俊杰, Aisha Majdoub, Frederick Martin, Abdoalehman Sade, Eduardo Sandoval, Emelita Torio, Anonymous 

Interview Translation by Sherman Ayala, Rachel Chen, Rosa Mariscal, Diana Pang, Jacinta Wu

Props & Sets: Sherman Ayala, Flora Hyoin Kim Han, Lenora Lee, Johnny Huy Nguyen

Audio / Visual Crew: John O’Shea, Timmy Leong, additional museum staff

Production Assistance: Edward Kaikea Goo, Q. Quan

Partner Organization: Chinatown Community Development Center




“Ascent”, “Proximity”, “Prayer” composed and performed by Vijay Iyer

“Ghost Time” composed by Vijay Iyer, performed by Fieldwork

The following are used by arrangement with ECM Records: 

“Chorale” and “Geese” Composed by Vijay Iyer. Performed by the Vijay lyer Trio. 

“Passage” Composed by Vijay Iyer. Performed by Vijay lyer and Wadada Leo Smith. 

“Mutation X: Time” Composed by Vijay Iyer. Performed by Vijay Iyer, Miranda Cuckson, Michi Wianko, Kyle Armbrust, and Kivie Cahn-Lipman

“The Empty Mind Receives” Composed and performed by Vijay lyer and Wadada Leo Smith, published by Kobalt Music Publishing America Inc. and Kiom Music. (ASCAP). 


“Let it not fall” composed and performed by Tatsu Aoki, with Kioto Aoki, Jamie Kempkers, Edward Wilkerson Jr. Courtesy of Asian Improv Records. 


“Revolutionary Process 1.0” (2013) BMI, from the “Trio SF” album (to be released in 2022). Composer and leader: Francis Wong. Performed by Francis Wong, Deszon X. Claiborne, Tatsu Aoki. Courtesy of Asian Improv Records. 

The following are translations of interviewee stories included in the performance.

Click here for information about the redistricting that was recently approved in San Francisco.


ASIAN ART MUSEUM Located in the heart of San Francisco, the museum is home to one of the world’s finest collections of Asian art, with more than 18,000 awe-inspiring artworks ranging from ancient jades and ceramics to contemporary video installations. Dynamic special exhibitions, cultural celebrations and public programs for all ages provide rich art experiences that unlock the past and spark questions about the future.



Vijay Iyer (music) Described by The New York Times as a “social conscience, multimedia collaborator, system builder, rhapsodist, historical thinker and multicultural gateway,” composer-pianist VIJAY IYER is one of the leading music-makers of his generation. His honors include a MacArthur Fellowship, a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a United States Artist Fellowship, a Grammy nomination, and the Alpert Award in the Arts. His most recent album, a trio session with drummer Tyshawn Sorey and bassist Linda May Han Oh titled Uneasy (ECM Records, 2021), was named Best New Music in Pitchfork and was hailed by the New Yorker as “a triumph of small-group interplay and fertile invention.”

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.
Francis Wong (music) was dubbed one of “the great saxophonists of his generation” by the late jazz critic Phil elwood. Few musicians are as accomplished as Wong: for over two decades he has performed his innovative brand of jazz and creative music for audiences in North America, Asia, and Europe. A prolific recording artist, Wong is featured on more than forty
Naoko Brown (dance – Boston) is a native of Nagoya, Japan. At the age of six, she was introduced to the world of classical ballet by Michiko Matsumoto. She continued her training with Barbara Banaskowski Smith in Lansing, MI. While there, she performed with the students of the National Ballet School of Gdansk in Poland, as well as students from Vaganova Ballet School in St. Petersburg, Russia.  Brown received her B.F.A. in Dance from The Boston Conservatory. While there, she performed works by Daniel Pelzig, Sean Curran, Lar Lubovitch and José Limón. She also attended the Boston Ballet School Summer Dance Program, Ballet Intensive from Moscow, and was a full scholarship recipient at Summer Stages Dance in 2012. She has performed with Michiko Matsumoto Ballet, Urban Nutcracker, Zoé Dance, Contrapose, Prometheus Dance and Jo-Mé Dance. She is currently a faculty member of The Boston Conservatory at Berklee, Walnut Hill School for the Arts Community Dance Academy as well as Boston Ballet. 
I.J. Chan (陳加恩) (dance – Boston) is a dance artist and educator from Boston, MA. She has dedicated her life to training and performing intensively in multiple dance genres and under many choreographers. In her own choreographic work, IJ is interested in intersecting and exploring the Asian-American narrative. She is committed to bringing quality performing arts instruction to low-income and minority youth populations within Boston. She also works as a freelance graphic designer, visual artist and seamstress.
Flora Hyoin Kim Han (dance – Boston) is a Korean-American dancer, choreographer, and dance educator. Since earning her B.F.A. in Dance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2014, she has worked with The Click, Prometheus Dance, Jenna Pollack, Lenora Lee Dance,, Jennifer Lin, Deborah Abel Dance Company, Lorraine Chapman, and Urbanity Dance. Flora is currently an Assistant Professor of Dance at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, a Lecturer of Dance at Brandeis University in Fall 2021, a senior faculty at Urbanity Dance and Coastline Ballet Center. Flora’s artistic vision is to bring inclusivity, empowerment, and joy to individuals and communities through the power of dance.
Lynn Huang (dance – San Francisco)  Trained in modern dance, ballet, and Chinese dance, Lynn has performed with Lenora Lee, Erin Malley, & Philein Wang in San Francisco, and HT Dance Company, Dance China NY & Ella Ben-Aharon/Sahar Javedani in NYC. She studied at Minzu University Dance Conservatory in Beijing, China on a Fulbright fellowship and graduated magna cum laude from Barnard College of Columbia University.
SanSan Kwan (dance – San Francisco) teaches dance and dance studies at UC Berkeley.  She has danced with Jonathon Appels, Joanna Mendl Shaw, Chen and Dancers, and Maura Nguyen Donohue/In Mixed Company, among others.

Johnny Huy Nguyen (dance – San Francisco) is a second generation Vietnamese American multidisciplinary dance artist based in Yelamu (aka San Francisco). Centering his practice on the body as place of knowing, he weaves together dance, theatre, spoken word, ritual, installation, and performance art to navigate explorations of home, lineage, resistance, healing, and shared humanity. He has performed in the Bay Area, Oregon, Boston, and NYC. His work has been presented by APAture Festival and the United States of Asian America Festival and his most recent solo work, Minority Without A Model, premiered in 2021. IG: @johnny.huy.nguyen



My name is Amalia Avendando. And I’ve lived in the Tenderloin for 20 years. Yes I’ve been an instructor for Zumba for Ladies for many many years. 

Fui víctima de violencia doméstica y no me gustaría que ninguna mujer pasara eso. Es difícil para mí hablar de esto, pero estoy me entero cuando algunas de mis amigas me comentan lo que están viviendo en casa o cuando están siendo abusadas físicamente lo que sea. Yo les recomiendo La Casa de las Madres y les recomiendo alternativas. Para salir de este problema en el que ellas viven.  Que cuando alguien me comenta que busca vivienda, les recomendio que busquen en el edificio las habitaciones como no se, hay muchas cosas que  quisiera hacer por la gente y especialmente para las mujeres y los niños. Porque hay veces que cuando una madre sufre violencia, los niños también sufren violencia, y no son escuchados.

She is a victim of domestic violence and from experiencing this she knows that she wants no other woman to experience the same thing. And she tries to be really involved in this movement whenever someone shares to them that they stay at home or have been abused at home. She always tries to recommend them to an organization called casa de madres, and just other alternatives that are there for them. He has a huge focus of helping women and kids specifically, that a lot of times when a woman is suffering from domestic violence that the children are also suffering. And there’s a lot of times no way for the kids or the woman to be heard.


Mi nombre es Martha Jaime.

She is a mother of four children. She has three boys and one girl. She’s been living in Tenderloin for 17 years now.

Yo camino a mi niño el más pequeño este a la escuela, nosotros veníamos caminando de aquí del Tenderloin hasta la Bryant entonces cuando vamos caminando por esta área del Tenderloin hay muchas personas indigentes que se están usando drogas están picando a veces están como muy agresivos Entonces este pues están peleando entre ellos y cuando lo va pasando pues a veces le toca a uno es que lo ofendan a uno también decirles cosas. 

Entonces  este mi hijo el más pequeño tiene mucho trauma de vivir acá en el Tenderloin porque le tiene mucho miedo a las personas que esté están en la calle Entonces es una es una preocupación para mí también porque este yo lo veo a él como que él les tiene bastante miedo cuando nosotros vamos caminando el tiempo me trata como de proteger y proteger sea a el mismo. Pues es muy preocupante. He tratado de buscar otra solución de otro lugar donde ir a vivir con mi familia pero la verdad la renta son bastante cara si es dinero que no podemos pagar y es la razón que seguimos viviendo en esta área.

She walks her youngest son to school and she walks from tenderloin, her building to Bryant they’ve witnessed people using drugs in the streets, whether it be injecting themselves in front of her and her child on their walks, or just being aggressive towards each other, seeing that escalation happen between themselves and the people in the streets. And she notices that her youngest has been affected a lot with his mental health and that he has trauma and he’s very much on alert when he’s on the streets. She notices that he makes an effort not only to protect himself, but also to protect her and being very concerned over her well being this is a really big worry for her to see his response to this. It’s been very difficult to find a solution to this other than to leave the space, but she hasn’t been able to find something that works for her. Because the rents are so expensive. So it’s just not something that they’re able to financially do for themselves.


Martha Spanish

Okay este pues yo mi niñez prácticamente toda la tuve en México en un lugar de donde esté como provincia puede decir como un pueblito pequeño y pues la verdad la vida de allá es mucho muy bonita Entonces este pues la verdad fui muy feliz todo el tiempo que estuve en México, después llegó el momento de que me casé y me esposo se vino para Estados Unidos, entonces yo salí embarazada de mi primer hijo y me esposo estuvo ese tiempo aquí, entonces cuando mi primer hijo nació me esposo regresó a México a conocerlo. El se tenia que regresar otra vez para Estados Unidos y me decía que me tenía que venir con él porque no quería dejarme sola México con mi bebé, verdad?eso me ponía nerviosa porque yo no me quería venir porque yo sentía que no iba a poder estar aquí porque aquí es muy diferente la vida,Verdad? Entonces siempre me animé Y me tuve que venir para acá y entonces cuando yo llegué aquí pues sentí un cambio muy diferente  mucho muy diferente que me empecé como a enfermar, me empezó a dar depresión y todas esas cosas verdad. Entonces es que yo tenía mucho miedo salir a la calle porque sentía como que estaba en una jaula y este y sí estuve bastante tiempo en tratamiento de depresión a causa de eso también y el encerramiento, porque yo era una persona muy libre. Entonces mi hermana me dijo que si quería ayudar a trabajar para que yo no estuviera pensando que estaba encerrada, entonces yo por las mañanas  trabajaba y cuando regresaba mi esposo se iba a trabajar y yo me quedaba con el niño Entonces ya mis amistades que yo tenía que ellos me empezaban a sacar a qué conociera un poco y con ayuda de la terapia y psicóloga y todo eso me fui como adaptado hasta que vinieron mis otros hijos y pues ya me convertí una persona bastante ocupada y pues he tratado de dejar todo eso atrás, la depresión y esas cosas, y mantener mi mente siempre ocupada y esa es una de las maneras que me ha mantenido estar un poco más adaptada aquí.

Martha English

She used to live in Mexico. And she explains her childhood as being something very beautiful, very open and freeing. She was very happy. And then came the time when she got married and had her family. She ended up coming out pregnant and her husband was already living in the US and working here. He didn’t want to leave them behind. He didn’t want to leave her or their son over there while he was in the US. So they ended up coming over as a family. And she explains that it was a very hard change for her. She was very reluctant to it at first, but she ended up deciding that she wanted to do this. She got her things and she came over. She ended up getting very sick. She got very depressed. She saw a lot of her health go down. And it was a very hard stage. She says she explained it as feeling caged, in that, she was living here and she wasn’t really going out. She was scared to be in the street to see the things that were going on outside and she explained it as feeling very enclosed and ended up getting treated for this depression and with help the psychologist and therapist and her sister, who also was noticing and helping her through this, she was able to kind of pull herself out of this dark phase. Her sister would insist for her to come and help her with her work just to bring her back out into the world. And she started going to work with her sister. What she has done best to keep her mental spirit up is staying busy. She’s a very busy woman now compared to her past where she could just just stay home that she finds herself keeping her mind busy always, busy always having something to do, busy working, cleaning houses not only physically busy but also mentally busy like keeping things in order. And her brain is always working.


Mr. Jack (Junjie) Lin 林俊杰

你好,我叫林俊杰。我来自中国,广东新会。我目前是个全职学生。我来到美国没多久,大概九个月,就通过“经济适用房”(Affordable Housing)等候名单,被选中。我觉得非常幸运得到这个机会成为这里的租户。在这里认识了很多员工,其中是员工凯特罗宾逊。这里还有中文服务,所以我也得到了很多帮助。我当时在这里参加了社区义工活动,并且成为了这里的租户委员会成员,以及代表我们租户提出关于住社问题和建议。

我来到的时候,租户委员会和“食品储藏室”(Food Pantry)还没建立。后来,是由于凯特提出以及组织的。也在这个时候,我意识到了通过参与式投票。这个方式让每个租户者参与选出他们认为最合适代表他们的人,并且投票关于社会或其他的需求。比如为了租户的需求,“食品储藏室”(Food Pantry)也是这个时候开始举办的。每个星期由自愿者帮忙派发。最后 ,华协中心是我们大楼的业主,以及组织了租户领导力培训和交流。

So my name is Jack Lin, I was born in China. Guangdong Xinhui. And right now I am a full time student. I’ve moved into the tenderloin after nine months of immigrating to the United States. Tenderloin Family Housing we were selected through, you know, an affordable housing waiting list. And at that time, I also got to, you know, meet the staff. For example, Kate Robinson, this is also a time where the staff here would have Chinese speaking support too, that was one that I started volunteering with our community, and was even elected as a tenant council member to represent all the neighbors in our building to come forward with different issues around our property and neighborhood.

I’d like to share, for example, some projects staff, for example, Kate had organized us to create a tenant council. And I was familiar then with, you know how participatory voting worked, where neighbors would elect, nominate different neighbors and then you know, elect them for them to represent the needs of the community. Another thing was a food pantry, which is all volunteer run by the residents here, staffed every week by them. That wasn’t in existence. And, you know, that was created here for our building, Chinatown Community Development Center, which is the owner manager of our building, also organized tenant leadership trainings and exchanges.

Mr. Lin 林俊杰




Another another piece that happened recently was that along with our president of the Tenant Council, Miss Norma, really tried to address the community safety piece at large and the impetus was because there was a young girl who was in a hijab and she was recently an immigrant from Yemen, who was attacked and assaulted to the point where she had to go to urgent care in the hospital while going to school. And so this was really a crystallizing point for many people. And so we had a community March at City Hall. That then led to some wins. We even met with the mayor and now there’s a Tenderloin Emergency Plan where she had shared that before she had publicly declared the plan. And we were as residents able to give our proposals and have her listen to our experiences. And even you know, those ambassadors called Urban alchemy practitioners on the street corners, was something that I think we had contributed to. Lastly, I want to also recognise, you know, I did a lot of organizing as a parent, with kids in the school district during COVID that had organized with other parents to, you know, demonstrate at this San Francisco Unified School District and also the board of supervisors on retaining distance learning classes. While schools were reopening, a lot of our parents were really concerned about the return to school, I wasn’t comfortable and many parents weren’t in doing so I wanted to retain distance learning as an option. And we were fearful that they would change the district policy where the original policy was you have to return to school or you’ll lose your spot if you want to do the web zoom version. When we eventually want to return you’ll lose your spot. So that was changed where you can still do online learning while keeping your spot for your school.

Mr  Lin  shared some examples of some of the issues around the Tenderloin that still need work. I think primarily around homelessness, and community safety, even anti-Asian hate. So he shared several examples, you know, right around COVID, he’s actually been assaulted physically or verbally assaulted three times since COVID. So I do think that community safety are really big issues that we do need to as a community continue to tackle and the progress is there. But it’s not an overnight solution. We did meet with the mayor, I can see some changes where there are more community ambassadors. So the progress is there. But again, I now no longer bring my kids over to the park that we got the free Wi Fi at, which is a couple of blocks away on Eddy Street, because I’m not confident that my children and I will be safe in our neighborhood.



En los 20 años que yo había vivido en Turk street estaba lleno de homeless, afuera en la calle por el tema de la pandemia se limpio, el proyecto que organizaron para poner un parque afuera, por eso la calle se ha limpiado los nuevos edificios y no he tenido problemas. Para mi Tenderloin es muy bonito, a mucha gente no le gusta, pero a mi me encanta Tenderloin

More recently, they’ve started some projects where they’re cleaning up the space and creating a park space outside. That’s been positive. She thinks it’s beautiful. And she loves tenderloin.



Estoy bien agradecida y muy contenta es que los últimos meses bueno el año pasado creo que comenzó he visto poco más de vigilancia en las calles del Tenderloin de cuando los niños salen de la escuela y la hora de las mañanas de los que los niños empiezan a ir a la escuela hay muchas personas que están cómo esté como no sé cómo decirlo pero están como protegiendo la salida de los niños a  la hora de la entrada y a la hora de la salida por todo ese barrio del Tenderloin. La verdad ver eso, me hace muy feliz y muy contenta. Y es una experiencia muy y la verdad es lo que necesitamos aquí y es lo que me hace sentir feliz porque al igual que yo, hay muchas mamás que están pasando lo mismo que yo.

It started happening last last year, that she noticed that there’s more care for the community that we have ambassadors and the walking school bus which comes out during school hours is sort of like an extra set of eyes that provides vigilance for the kids who are coming out of school. She’s seeing something positive coming out of the community, it makes her happier, because she knows that there’s other moms that have the same fears as her and it’s very relieving that herself and other moms are getting the service this help.


The Convergent Waves performance pieces in Boston and San Francisco are supported by ArtsEmerson, Asian Improv aRts, API Cultural Center, Asian Art Museum, Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center / Pao Arts Center, California Arts Council, Chinatown Community Development Center, Fleishhacker Foundation, San Francisco Arts Commission, San Francisco Grants for the Arts, and by Generous Individuals. The creation, presentation of and production residencies for Convergent Waves were made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Its creation is also supported in part by an award to Pao Arts Center from the National Endowment for the Arts, and artist residencies at ArtsEmerson and Pao Arts Center.

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