Interdisciplinary dance works giving artistic voice to Asian Americans

Convergent Waves: NYC 5/25-5/27 on Seaport Museum’s tall ship Wavertree


The award-winning Lenora Lee Dance, in collaboration with the South Street Seaport Museum, presents the World Premiere of the immersive, site-responsive, multimedia dance performances


Convergent Waves: NYC


1885 tall ship Wavertree at the South Street Seaport Museum
Permanently moored at Pier 16 (Fulton and South Streets), New York City
Saturday–Monday, May 25–27, 2024
1pm & 3:30pm shows


FREE admission, reservations required, limited capacity
Performances will begin on time, please arrive early.
Tickets and more information:

Additional images by Alice Chacon

“Convergent Waves: NYC” video teaser


Come aboard the Seaport Museum’s 1885 tall ship Wavertree, where the contemporary dance performance will unfold against the backdrop of this historic vessel. Choreographed by award-winning dancer-artistic director Lenora Lee and the talented performers, this slate of dance vignettes has been inspired by and created specifically for Wavertree to artfully showcase an interactive journey through different areas of the ship, while delving into the rich history of this international cargo vessel—the last of its kind. Dance will take place in the massive cargo hold, the forecastle where the crew ate and slept, the captain’s saloon, and more. The piece will provide insight into the unseen lives of the laborers who helped to build New York City into the global hub it is today and the unexpected role of the sea as a site for freedom from the racial and gender barriers of the era.

Sign up today to ensure your spot for a unique experience that weaves together movement, history, and maritime spirit.

The audience will not be seated during the one-hour event and will actively move throughout the ship to witness this site-specific performance to experience intimate and engaging moments with performers that include video projection, recorded original music, and text. Access to Wavertree for this program involves climbing a few stairs, walking up an angled gangway, and descending a few stairs onto the deck. The lower decks are accessible via stairs, while the upper deck requires navigating steep ladder-like stairs.

In the interest of safety for our dancers, performances will not take place in the rain. Advanced registration is encouraged for this free event but walkups will be accommodated as possible.


Audience Feedback from previous LLD immersive performances:

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

“It was brilliant and emotionally powerful.”




by Johnny Huy Nguyễn


Who are the people that have built the United States? What are their stories? 

In the U.S. today, we are seeing the chasm of wealth inequality widen and the cult of personality grow for singular figures like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. In 2022, CEOs on average received 344.3 times the annual average salary of production workers in the key industry of their firm in the U.S. Within the next decade, economists estimate that the world is on course to see its first trillionaire.  

Yet how has this wealth been attained? On the back of workers; those who must labor to survive and endure dehumanizing labor conditions with little recourse. In researching for this piece, we learned that many of the ship’s crew generally consisted of men from economically poor regions of the world for whom employment aboard a sailing vessel was not an adventure, but a necessity. They worked long days tending to the needs of the ship for low pay. Who were these men who were gone months to even years at a time, struggling to keep their souls burning in the ubiquitous damp freeze, as the sea battered their bodies without a doctor on board?

Convergent Waves: NYC seeks to give these workers lost to time voice – to share not only their struggles, but their humanity, their dreams, and their lives. To honor their role in building New York City as a center of trade and connecting it to the rest of the globe. To acknowledge those who labor unrecognized in the modern day and recognize their right to humanity.



Tall Ship Wavertree was built in 1885. Only 20 years out from the abolition of slavery and 3 years out from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. From 1885 to 1910, Wavertree circumnavigated the globe at least three times and called at ports all around the world, including: Ireland, Germany, France, and Belgium; Peru, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina; Sri Lanka, India, Burma, and Singapore; Australia; Canada, and the United States— landing here in New York in 1895.

Black men who found opportunities in the harbors as sailors were heavily integrated despite American laws restricting employment for Black people even after abolition. Life at sea was a way to escape enslavement and earn a free living in free states and in foreign ports.

Women also found their way aboard ships, but in secrecy. Disguising themselves as men, women sought better wages or to live a life without gender-based restrictions. The life of a sailor, though harsh and unforgiving, gave many men and women opportunities that were forbidden to them on land.

It was not uncommon for the ship’s Master to bring his family aboard. With many voyages lasting months or years, the only way to keep the family together was to bring them on the journey. While captains’ wives typically had no official duties, there are a number of examples of women learning navigation, and in one case even taking command of the ship after the captain had fallen ill.



Yuri Tang played by Naoko Brown

陳加恩 Chan Ga Yun played by IJ Chan

Sailing Master Tang played by Peter Cheng

Violet Kim Preto played by Flora Hyoin Kim Han

Lynette Preto played by Lynn Huang

Charlie Retcho played by Nelson Enrique Mejia Jr. 

First Mate Salcedo played by Miguel Miranda

Mikaela Preto played by Mikaela Morisato

Rigger Dỗ played by Johnny Huy Nguyễn 

Boatswain Patterson played by Caleb Patterson

Captain Preto played by Shannon Preto

Carpenter Woods played by Brandon Woods



Captain Preto. Oversees the daily operations of the ship and brokers deals in the tramp trade. He’s fallen ill on this leg of the journey and finds himself needing to delegate his duties.

Lynette Preto. Captain Preto’s wife. In her time on the ship, she has learned navigation and with Captain Preto ill, helps take command of the ship. In the eye of the storm, she aids in bringing the ship, crew, and her family towards safety. 

Violet Preto. Captain Preto’s eldest daughter takes responsibility for the family’s chores and assists her father with any of his additional duties on the ship. She misses the mainland but feels a great duty to her family and the ship.

Mikaela Preto. Captain Preto’s youngest daughter born on a ship, she knows little of life on the mainland and has a strong attachment to the Wavertree and its crew.

Yuri Tang. An ethereal presence of the sea calling out to the crew of the ship as they long for loved ones and their hearts ache for home. She appears to Sailing Master Tang in the form of his wife back home.

First Mate Salcedo. Hailing from Peru and the son of a fisherman. Often at odds with Sailing Master Tang, his pride gets the best of him as he steers the ship into a storm. 

Sailing Master Tang. Coming from a long line of sailors, his father and grandfather worked for the East India Company. Close confidante to Captain Preto. He dreams of the warm seas of the Pacific and his beloved wife. 

Rigger Dỗ. Coming from a family of peasants, he works to send the little money he makes back to his wife and children. He cares deeply for the wellbeing of his peers.

Boatswain Patterson. Straightforward in manner with no deep ties to his former life on land. Finds himself drawn to the captain’s daughter, Mikaela.

Charlie Retcho. Chose to exchange the harsh work of the factories for the harsh work of the sea. A newer crew member looking to leave his past behind and live in the present.

陳加恩 Chan Ga Yun. Rejecting the roles assigned to women of her day, she has joined the crew disguised as a man. Her choice leaves her at odds with her family, as she longs to see the world.

Carpenter Woods. With few opportunities for Black men on the mainland, he works hard saving money to start his own trading business in Brazil, hoping to find true freedom.

Conceived, Produced & Directed by Lenora Lee

Choreography: Lenora Lee in collaboration with Performers / Dance Collaborators: Naoko Brown (Boston), IJ Chan (Boston), Peter Cheng (NYC), Flora Hyoin Kim Han (Boston), Lynn Huang (SF), Nelson Enrique Mejia Jr. (NYC), Miguel Miranda (NYC), Mikaela Morisato (NYC), Johnny Huy Nguyễn (SF), Caleb Patterson (NYC), Shannon Preto, Brandon Woods (NYC)

Recorded Music Composed by Vijay Iyer, Tatsu Aoki, Francis Wong

Text: Genny Lim & the cast

Media Design: Lenora Lee & Olivia Ting

Stage Managers: Shannon Preto & Lucy Tafler

Production Consultant: Hannah Pascoe

Production Assistant: Rebekah Joy Herrera

Translation: Jacinta Wu Goo, Mrs. Chan, Miguel Miranda

Photos: Alice Chacon, Victor Lin, Robbie Sweeny

Partner Organizations: South Street Seaport Museum, Asian Improv aRts, API Cultural Center, Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company


Vijay Iyer
“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).

Tatsu Aoki
“Let it not fall” composed and performed by Tatsu Aoki, with Kioto Aoki, Jamie Kempkers, Edward Wilkerson Jr., courtesy of Asian Improv Records. “Movement” composed and performed by Tatsu Aoki, with Mwata Bowden, Robbie Hunsinger, Paul Kim, Hide Yoshihashi, courtesy of Southport Records.

Francis Wong
“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.



LLD Staff & Consultants

Artistic Director: Lenora Lee

Project Consultant: Lucy Tafler

Rehearsal Director: Johnny Huy Nguyễn

Choreographic Assistant: Sawako Ogo

Graphic Design: Olivia Ting

Convergent Waves: NYC is part of a multi-city project made possible in part by National Endowment for the Arts, and 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. Companion pieces by Lenora Lee Dance include Convergent Waves: Boston April 2022, Convergent Waves: SF June 2022

The Convergent Waves companion pieces in Boston, San Francisco and NYC 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, Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, National Endowment for the Arts, San Francisco Arts Commission, San Francisco Grants for the Arts, South Street Seaport Museum, and by Generous Individuals. The creation, presentation of and production residencies for Convergent Waves: Boston 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 was also supported in part by an award to Pao Arts Center from the National Endowment for the Arts, and artist residencies at ArtsEmerson, Pao Arts Center, and Bunker Hill Community College.





Lenora Lee Dance
For the last 15 years Lenora Lee Dance (LLD) has pushed the envelope of intimate and large-scale multimedia, immersive dance performance connecting various styles of movement/dance, film, text, research and music to culture, history, and human rights issues. LLD’s works are set in both public and private spaces, inspired by individual stories as well as community strength. From the proscenium, to even underwater, the company’s pieces are site-responsive and immersive calling audiences into deep engagement with the work and environment. Through partnerships locally and nationally, LLD’s work has grown to encompass the creation, presentation and screening of films, museum and gallery installations, civic engagement, and educational programming signifying the power of art as a movement for change., @LenoraLeeDance


About the South Street Seaport Museum
The South Street Seaport Museum, located in the heart of the historic seaport district in New York City, preserves and interprets the history of New York as a great port city. Founded in 1967, the Museum houses an extensive collection of works of art and artifacts, a maritime reference library, exhibition galleries and education spaces, working 19th century print shops, and an active fleet of historic vessels that all work to tell the story of “Where New York Begins.”
#SouthStreetSeaportMuseum #WhereNewYorkBegins
@SouthStreetSeaportMuseum – Facebook
@seaportmuseum – Instagram, X, TikTok



LLD’s 15th Anniversary Season February 2-4, 2024 at Dance Mission Theater!


Asian Improv aRts and API Cultural Center present 

Lenora Lee Dance’s 15th Anniversary Season

with World Premieres of In Visibility and Convergent Waves: EP

by the award-winning company Lenora Lee Dance


at Dance Mission Theater – 3316 24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

Friday February 2nd and Saturday February 3rd @ 8pm, 

Sunday February 4 @ 2pm

Performances will begin on time, please arrive early.


In Visibility (15 minutes) is an immersive piece inspired by the organizing to stop the prison to ICE detention pipeline in California. It  focuses on the separation of families and mass detention of immigrants as forms of incarceration, and serves as a meditation on reconciliation and restorative justice, speaking to the power of individuals and communities to transcend.


Convergent Waves: EP (45 minutes) highlights experiences of Chinese and Latin American migration in El Paso over the decades and as Title 42 came to an end. This piece is narrated through the voices of those living in these cities for generations, as well as those working on the ground providing resources and support for the individuals and families crossing the border.



Dance Mission Theater

3316 24th Street (between Mission & Valencia Streets), SF, CA 94110, (415) 894-1187

Street parking or local garages are available. Please plan ahead regarding parking.



$25 – $60

For more info:,

For questions email, or call (415) 570-8615‬


Video teasers:

In Visibility 

Convergent Waves: EP 


Content Advisory: The audio score for this performance contains individuals sharing about experiences of trauma, incarceration, and ICE detention. Parts of these stories may be triggering for some audience members. 

Press Responses from LLD’s 2022 In the Movement production: 

”a masterful example of how art can be used in support of social justice… personal, heartrending, and enthralling” Jen Norris Dance Reviews

“Their bodies become pathways for retelling: spiraling, sensing, pressing, balancing, tracing, holding, falling, reaching, rearranging….We need to feel all this depth.”

Melissa Lewis Wong

Conceived, Produced & Directed by Lenora Lee

Choreography by Lenora Lee in collaboration with the Performers / Dance Collaborators

Performers / Dance Collaborators: Victoria Amador, Lynn Huang, SanSan Kwan, Sebastian Le, Gilberto Martínez Martínez, Johnny Huy Nguyen, Catalina O’Connor

Rehearsal Director: Johnny Huy Nguyen

Additional Dance Collaborators (Video): Michelle Pacillas López & Andrea Saucedo of Mountain Movement Dance Company, El Paso

Recorded music directed by Francis Wong & Tatsu Aoki

Vocals by Helen Palma

Media Design by Lenora Lee & Olivia Ting

Videography by Lenora Lee

Light Design by Harry Rubeck

Interviewee Voiceover: Serafin Andrade, Mario Narciso Ávila Melgar, Jon-Michael Blowe, Maddie Boyd, Sami DiPasquale, Keith Fong, Sarah Lee, Melissa M. López, Lori Navarrete, Salesh Prasad, Mae Yee Quon, Lydia Yee Woo, Anonymous

Resource Partners: ABARA, Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services, Inc., Immigrant Legal Resource Center

Project Consultant: Lucy Tafler

Photos by Robbie Sweeny



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 15 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., IG: @LenoraLeeDance





In response to global migration in a polarizing world: Abara inspires connections beyond borders through mutual understanding, education, and meaningful action in pursuit of narrative, systems, and personal change. Abara hosts immersive border learning experiences, supports dozens of migrant shelters on both sides of the border, and is developing Abara House, a Borderland Center for Beloved Community sitting on a historic border river crossing. Abara envisions a global beloved community flourishing through justice, peace, healing and transformation..,


Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services, Inc. (DMRS) is the largest provider of free and low-cost immigration-related legal services in West Texas and New Mexico. Established in 1986, DMRS provides a comprehensive range of legal representation and advocacy services to the immigrant community. These services include providing representation in family-based immigration cases, to survivors of domestic violence, trafficking and other crimes, to individuals seeking United States Citizenship, to individuals before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) who are in removal (deportation) proceedings, and to unaccompanied minor children.  Currently, DMRS serves more than 25,000 individuals every year.,,,


The Immigrant Legal Resource Center is a national non-profit organization that provides critical support at the intersection of criminal and immigration law through legal analysis, policy work, trainings, and technical assistance.



Victoria Amador (dance) is a 1st-gen, Chicana, 4th year transfer currently attending UC Berkeley. She is majoring in Psychology with a Dance and Performance Studies minor. Victoria has been dancing since she was 5 years old, is trained in many dance genres, and still continues to explore movement. She plans to continue to dance for as long as she is able and hopes that she can keep dance a diverse, inclusive, and body-positive environment. Finally, she hopes you can enjoy and learn from the show! Instagram: a.victoria99

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.

Sebastian Le (dance) graduated from the University of San Francisco with a major in Business Management and a minor in Dance. He is a contemporary dancer and is a part of Dance Generators, a USF based intergenerational dance company. With Dance Generators he worked with Liv Schaffer and Dazaun Soleyn on Pause to Bridge at ODC. IG:sebastian.l3

Catalina O’Connor (dance) is a modern dancer and teacher. She attended Saint Mary’s College of California and studied modern dance, as well as Mexican Folklórico and Flamenco, along with Hispanic Literature, and Art History. She is currently teaching with HeART with LINES and the Shawl-Anderson Youth Program. She has had the honor to work with Andrew Merrell, Liz Duran/Piñata Dance Collective, Davalos Dance, Chingchi Yu, and Andi Salazar.


Lynn Huang (dance) Trained in modern dance, ballet, and Chinese dance, Lynn has performed with Lenora Lee, Cynthia Ling Lee, and Philein Wang, among others in San Francisco, and HT Chen and Dancers, Dance China NY and 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. She also teaches GYROTONIC​​® and GYROKINESIS®. IG: @lynnxspirals

SanSan Kwan (dance) is professor and chair in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies at UC Berkeley, where she teaches  dance and dance studies.  She has performed in New York City with Jonathon Appels, Joanna Mendl Shaw, Chen and Dancers, and Maura Nguyen Donohue/In Mixed Company, among others. In the Bay Area she has danced with Scott Rubin, Chingchi Yu, and Jen Liu.  This is her 11th year with Lenora Lee Dance.  

Lenora Lee (artistic direction) The company is directed by San Francisco native Lenora Lee, who has been a dancer, choreographer and artistic director for the past 23 years in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. She has been an Artist Fellow at the de Young Museum, a Djerassi Resident Artist, a Visiting Scholar at New York University 2012-2016, an Artist in Residence at Dance Mission Theater, a 2019 United States Artists Fellow, and is the recipient of a New England Foundation for the Arts National Dance Project grant award. Lenora is currently artist in residence at Pao Arts Center and ArtsEmerson.

Gilberto Martínez Martínez (dance) is a Chicanx Queer male-identifying artist originally from the Central Valley. His work integrates nuances of his culture as he works towards an intersectional performance style. He has worked with high school and collegiate levels in choreography and acting studies with a focus on shows in ballet, jazz, contemporary, and modern. He has 6+ years of teaching experience in venues such as Roosevelt High School of the Performing Arts and Fresno City College. Currently, he is substituting experience for learning as he works towards his Theater, Dance, and Performance studies degree at UC Berkeley. He hopes to inspire others to love dance in their body. IG: @sir_gils 

Helen Palma (music) is a graduate of SF State University, receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music with an emphasis on Vocal and Jazz Studies. Her vocal styles range from Brazilian to Latin Jazz, Salsa, Swing, Blues, R&B and Pop. During Helen studied with John Calloway in the Afro Cuban Ensemble and later performed professionally with his latin jazz septet at the Redwood City Salsa Festival in 2017 and 2019. She was also a part of the 2020 Hispanic Heritage Concert under Calloway’s direction. The Helen Palma Trio performs in venues throughout the Bay Area focusing on Latin and Brazilian jazz, R&B and pop., IG, Linkedin 

Johnny Huy Nguyễn (dance, rehearsal direction) is a second generation Vietnamese American multidisciplinary dance artist based in Yelamu (San Francisco) and son of courageous refugees. His physical works excavate memory, experience, and possibility into the present, while simultaneously interrogating the social, political, and cultural conditions that shape us. Nguyễn’s work has been presented by the United States of Asian America Festival, 500 Capp St, Asian Art Museum (SF) to name a few. Learn more: IG: @johnny.huy.nguyen

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 Oakland Museum of California, San Francisco Arts Commission, San Jose Children’s Museum, and collaborated with various dance companies in the Bay Area. Her work shifts between video projection and altered 360 VR film experiences. She holds an MFA in Art Practice from U.C. Berkeley.

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 titles.



Serafin Andrade Lopez is an organizer who was detained in ICE custody for nineteen months. He was fortunate to be released. Now, his experiences motivate him to continue educating himself to fight the injustices our communities face.  He is working towards a degree in Political Science and Sociology. Serafin wants to use his education and experiences to help change these oppressive policies.

Mario Narcisco Ávila Melgar is a Social Services Coordinator and psychologist in Mexico, with a specialty in social justice and social development. Born and raised in Ciudad Juárez, Mario has collaborated with non-governmental organizations working with vulnerable populations such as those living with HIV, substance abuse, migrant populations along the border and LGBTQI+ groups. 

Jon-Michael Blowe is a native El Pasoan, a lieutenant with the El Paso Fire Department and a registered nurse. He plans to retire from the Fire Department in 2023 after 25 years of service to pursue a second career in nursing. He dedicated the last 18 years to training and teaching Capoeira under the direction of world renowned masters. Through this art form, he has traveled extensively, co-founded a samba percussion band and opened a martial arts studio.

Maddie Boyd is an immigrant’s rights attorney based in the Bay Area.

Sami DiPasquale is the executive director of Abara, a nonprofit based on the border in El Paso, Texas. Sami grew up in the Middle East, holds a BA in International Development and MBA focused on International Business. He has spent the past two decades working alongside refugee and immigrant communities in the U.S. and his enduring vision is to join others in bridging divides and moving toward mutual flourishing for all.

Keith Fong is the 4th of Alvalea and Fong Fong’s six children. He has a masters degree in Mechanical Engineering and works as a continuous improvement consultant. He hosts a podcast “Way of the Quality Warrior.” He is married to Maly who also has a Chinese immigrant father and local mother. They have a daughter and son and live in El Paso, TX. His hobbies include photography and hiking and he’s active in professional and alumni organizations.

Sarah Lee (she/her) is a Senior Community Organizer at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. Sarah is the daughter of Chinese immigrants from Hong Kong, Venezuela, and Canada. For over 10 years she has organized with student, faith, and immigrant communities on immigrant justice. In her role, she works alongside coalitions that advocate for policies in California that support people criminalized by the immigration and criminal punishment system. Twitter: sleesays

Melissa M. López, Executive Director/Attorney at Law, DMRS, was born and raised in El Paso. She earned a Bachelor Degree in Political Science and attended law school at the University of Texas School of Law graduating with a Doctor of Jurisprudence. She returned to El Paso to work as a Staff Attorney at DMRS and has been a practicing immigration attorney ever since. In February 2013 she took on the role as the Executive Director. She regularly presents at the Mexican Consulate and other community presentations. She hosted a weekly radio show, Amor al Migrante, which aired on the Bridge, El Paso’s Catholic Radio Station.

Lori Navarrete, M.P.H.

Lori is a native El Pasoan working as a grant writer and editor in the health sciences. Previously she worked for the U.S.-México Border Health Commission. Before returning home she assisted with a study on nutritional supplements for children in Senegal. During this time she also researched the impacts of Arizona policies on public health services among immigrant populations. She earned her Master of Public Health from the University of Arizona and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Trinity University.

Salesh (Sal) Prasad came to the U.S. as a Lawful Permanent Resident at the age of 6. He participated in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, which he became the chairman of. He earned a GED and has taken over 17 vocational trades. His goal is to work for Asian Prisoner Support Committee and be part of immigration reform. He is also part of Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity and California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice, Asian Law Caucus. 

Mae Yee Quon was born and raised in El Paso in 1948. She graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a Bachelor in Education and received her master’s in educational administration from Sul Ross University. She worked for the Ysleta Independent School District teaching secondary science and as a secondary school administrator and retired in 2011. She is active in her church, El Paso Baptist Chinese Church teaching Children’s Church or playing the piano for worship service. She is also a member of the Chinese Benevolent Society.  

Lydia Yee Woo was born and raised in El Paso and is the youngest of four children. Soon after graduating from the University of Arizona with a BS in Microbiology she moved to San Antonio, Texas where she worked as an environmental real estate specialist. In 2022, she relocated back to El Paso to be closer to family. She is an active member in her local chinese church and her hobbies include gardening, traveling and cooking. 



Asian Improv aRts

Since 1987, Asian Improv aRts (AIR) has built a national cross-cultural, interdisciplinary community rooted in social justice and equity, advancing artists who create innovative works representing Asian and Asian American experiences. AIR’s impact has been far-reaching; building the strength, sustainability and national visibility of Asian American arts and culture, embedded in community-based work with an authentic Asian American voice and grounded in a social justice approach that has deep connections to BIPOC communities. Over its 35 years, AIR has produced more than 100 recordings of Asian American artists, chronicling a legacy of Asian artistic excellence in the U.S. and mentored many artists in their early stages, some of whom are now luminaries in their field, such as Vijay Iyer and Jen Shyu. Today, AIR continues this legacy supporting the next generation of artistic leaders in the field. 


The Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center’s (APICC) mission is to support and produce multidisciplinary art reflective of the unique experiences of Asian Pacific Islanders living in the United States. APICC was founded in 1996 by representatives of five nonprofit arts groups: Asian American Dance Performances, First Voice, Asian Improv aRts, the Asian American Theater Company, and Kearny Street Workshop. Since 1998, the center has promoted the artistic and organizational growth of San Francisco’s API arts community by organizing and presenting the annual United States of Asian America Festival as well as commissioning contemporary art for and by the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. 




Dance Mission connects and empowers diverse Bay Area communities and artists through all aspects of dance and dance theater, including the production of new works, instruction, and performance. We are an artist-driven, feminist organization dedicated to building community, addressing social justice issues, exploring cultural identities, promoting inclusivity, and creating a more peaceful world through collective action.  Many women-identified artists, artists of color, and culturally specific ensembles consider Dance Mission to be their artistic home. Master teachers of dance and music have created a thriving intergenerational community celebrating cultural traditions, welcoming students of all backgrounds. Dance Mission is also the home of Krissy Keefer’s Dance Brigade, San Francisco’s groundbreaking, feminist social-change modern dance company.


LLD’s 15th Anniversary Home Season is supported by Asian Improv aRts, API Cultural Center, Dance Mission Theater, California Arts Council, San Francisco Arts Commission, San Francisco Grants for the Arts, Zellerbach Family Foundation, and by Generous Individuals. 

Special Thanks to: ABARA, Stefanie Block Uribarri of Pearl Properties, Paul de la Peña-Franceschi,  Max Grossman & El Paso History Alliance (Facebook), El Paso Historical Society, University of Texas, El Paso Special Collections, Gloria Espinoza, Maureen Lam, Nancy Lam, Cindy Liou, Aracely López, Melissa Melpignano, Mountain Movement Dance Company (El Paso), Manny Pacillas, Edith Tapia

2023 into 2024 – LLD’s 15th Anniversary!

Dear Friends and Supporters!

With love, grace, compassion, and gratitude we greet you today, and hope that 2023 has been a year full of clarity and rejuvenation for you and your loved ones. We have had the honor to work on 8 major projects this year and would like to share a recap of 2023 and announcements for 2024. Lenora had the opportunity to travel to Lima, Peru, El Paso, TX, Ciudad Juárez in Mexico, and to NYC to jump start large-scale local, national, and international collaborations!

Recapping 2023!

  • LLD was invited by U.C. Berkeley’s Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies to re-stage our award-winning Within These Walls performance piece on 14 Cal students, February 23-26 at Zellerbach Playhouse
  • We created and screened a documentary film about Within These Walls: Conversations with creative collaborators and dancers of the next generation
  • LLD had a world premiere screening of our And the Community Will Rise (ACWR) film as part of CAAMFest May 12, and were awarded BEST FEATURE FILM by Experimental, Dance & Music Film Festival (screened in July)! ACWR focuses on the advocacy for Ping Yuen housing tenants’ rights, by residents and Chinatown Community Development Center staff.
  • LLD also started the research and creation processes for the following 2024 premieres!!

Celebrating our 15th Anniversary Season!!

  • February 2 – 4, 2024 premieres of In Visibility (inspired by the advocacy and organizing to stop the prison to ICE detention pipeline) and Convergent Waves: EP (highlighting experiences of migration in El Paso & Ciudad Juárez as Title 42 came to an end) at Dance Mission Theater, SF. 
  • May 25 – 27, 2024 premiere of Convergent Waves: NYC, immersive site-responsive performances on South Street Seaport Museum’s 1885 Tall Ship Wavertree (NYC), inspired by the history of the international cargo ship.
  • Spring 2024 screening of a short documentary dance film about Chinese migration to Peru, supported in part by Good Medicine Picture Company. 
  • September 2024 Lima, Peru premiere of A Bridge to Now focusing on Chinese migration to SF & Lima, cross migration between North & South America, intercultural integration and support between Chinese & Peruvian communities in the Americas. 
  • We will screen the final version of our Within These Walls experimental film by filmmaker Tatsu Aoki, inspired by those detained at the U.S. Immigration Station on Angel Island.


Your support is critical during this time 

As LLD expands its reach deeper into national and international communities and conversations, we ask for increased support. Funding at those levels is highly competitive and out of reach for many communities of color and small arts organizations. Given increasing tension between the U.S. & China, propelled by COVID-19 and the scapegoating of Asians in the U.S. and globally, we are faced with heightening discrimination. The appreciation of diversity and uplifting voices of collaboration will bring us together, dissolving barriers of injustice, and witnessing our collective abilities to grow and unify.

We immensely appreciate your generosity and invite you to contribute today! 

Your gift will directly support our collaborating artists, designers, filmmakers, performances, films, discussions, and educational programs. With the intensity and productivity of this year, and the myriad of adjustments we’ve all had to make in our lives due to the pandemic, we are ever so grateful for your continued support. Wishing you grace, compassion, and love,

Lenora Lee, Artistic Director      

Lucy Tafler, Project Consultant

Johnny Huy Nguyen, Rehearsal Director

Call for NYC Dancers!




Award-winning San Francisco-based company, Lenora Lee Dance (LLD) is seeking NYC-based dancers for outdoor immersive performances in NYC on South Street Seaport Museum’s Tall Ship Wavertree May 24 – 27, 2024


LLD is looking for NYC-based dancers with experience in choreography, improvisation, collaboration, modern / contemporary dance, and/or other dance styles, available to work in-person during the following intensive periods in NYC:

  • Around September 25 – October 1, 2023, (with photo/video shoot)
  • Around November 10 – 18, 2023, (with photo/video shoot)
  • Around March 16 – 24, 2024 (with photo/video shoot)
  • Around May 16 – 23, with shows May 24 – 27, 2024 

Note additional rehearsals may be added via Zoom and intensive rehearsal periods above are subject to change.


“Convergent Waves: NYC” will be a series of site-responsive, immersive dance performances in NYC, May 24 – 27, 2024 on South Street Seaport Museum’s Tall Ship Wavertree. It will focus on the experiences of NYC residents and advocates, making a collective statement for the preservation of community, eliciting stories of agency, resilience, and transformation. 


The piece will feature 8 dancers from San Francisco, Boston, and NYC, with recorded original music by Tatsu Aoki, Francis Wong, as well as by NYC based Vijay Iyer, who has received a MacArthur Fellowship, a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a Grammy nomination, amongst other awards. The movement will be created collaboratively with the dancers, directed by Lenora Lee. All photo / video shoot, rehearsal, tech, and performance time is paid.


This is part of a multi-city project supported in part by New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project and Expeditions Tour Planning Grant, National Endowment for the Arts, Pao Arts Center, ArtsEmerson, Asian Improv aRts, API Cultural Center, California Arts Council, San Francisco Arts Commission, San Francisco Grants for the Arts, Asian Art Museum, South Street Seaport Museum, Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, A/P/A Institute at NYU, and Generous Individuals. “Convergent Waves: Boston” premiered in Boston at Pao Arts Center April 2022, and “Convergent Waves: SF” premiered in San Francisco at Asian Art Museum June 2022. 


Those interested can fill in THIS SUBMISSION FORM with the following information by Friday, August 11, 2023 Midnight ET

  • your contact phone number 
  • a resume or CV
  • your website and/or social media handle
  • 1-2 video links of dance pieces you have choreographed or are featured dancing in 

Auditions are by invitation only and will occur via Zoom and/or in person August 16 – 25, 2023. Notifications sent by August 30, 2023. For questions please email


About the Company

For the last 15 years Lenora Lee Dance (LLD) has been pushing the envelope of intimate and large-scale multimedia dance performance that connects various styles of movement/dance, film, text, research and music to culture, history, and human rights issues. LLD creates works that are both set in public and private spaces, inspired by individual stories as well as community strength. At times crafted for the proscenium, or underwater, and at times the pieces are site-responsive, immersive and interactive. Its work has grown to encompass the creation, presentation and screening of films, museum and gallery installations, civic engagement, and educational programming. 

LLD is directed by Lenora Lee, who has been a dancer, choreographer and artistic director for the past 25 years. She has been an Artist Fellow at the de Young Museum, a Djerassi Resident Artist, a Visiting Scholar at the A/P/A Institute at New York University, a 2019 United States Artists Fellow, an Artist in Residence at Dance Mission Theater, Pao Arts Center and ArtsEmerson. She will be a 2023-2024 Artist in Residence at Bunker Hill Community College.



Samples of LLD’s work 


“In the Movement” at ODC Theater, September 1-11, 2022 




“And the Community Will Rise” dance film trailer (2023)

Screened at Center for Asian American Media’s 41st anniversary of CAAMFest. 

Won “Best Feature Film” at the Experimental, Dance & Music Film Festival 2023


“And the Community Will Rise” awarded Best Feature Film 2023!



“And The Community Will Rise” is awarded Best Feature Film

by Experimental, Dance & Music Film Festival!


Experimental Dance & Music Film Festival & Wildsound Festival TV is screening our film on-demand July 9-10, 2023 here as part of their Experimental Documentary Showcase!


See what audiences are saying about our film:



CLICK HERE to listen to the Wildsound Podcast with director Lenora Lee 6/15/23

CLICK HERE to read the Film review by Victoria Angelique






LLD is thrilled to have the World Premiere screening of our film “And The Community Will Rise”

at #CAAMFest2023 as part of Being, Belonging & Beyond – SF Bay Area AAPI Dance Film Festival, co-presented by 500 Capp Street, Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center (APICC), and CAAMFest

Sunday, 5/14, 2pm at Kapwa Gardens, 967 Mission St, SF (between 5th & 6th Streets)

Click here for tickets & info


1:00 PM: Doors Open

2:00 PM: Premiere Screening: AND THE COMMUNITY WILL RISE by Lenora Lee Dance

3:30 PM: Performance by Megan Lowe + Shorts Program Screening:

  • BREATHE (HINGA) by Sammay Dizon & Kat
  • a film by Melissa Lewis Wong
  • Film excerpts from Alleluia Panis/KULARTS

5:00PM: Reception featuring Sarap Shop & Victory Hall

6:00PM: Premiere Screening & Performance: HOME(in)STEAD by Megan Lowe & Johnny Huy Nguyen

6:30PM AAPI Dance Film Panel Discussion with Audience Q&A

Tickets includes re-entry for any of the presentations. Audience are welcome to come and go for any portion of the program as they please. ASL interpretation provided.

This film festival is also part of APICC’s 26th United States of Asian America Festival (USAAF).

The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) presents CAAMFest, the nation’s largest Asian American festival, celebrating 41 years of Asian American Stories May 11 – 21, 2023. For information on screenings and tickets, visit