Interdisciplinary dance works giving artistic voice to Asian Americans

Bay Area People – Lenora Lee Dance on KTVU Fox 2

Thanks to Claudine Wong & KTVU – http://www.ktvu.com/community/234120868-video

Join us for immersive performances of “Within These Walls” in the Angel Island Immigration Station barracks this August – September!

“LIGHT” film screenings in March & April!

CAAMFest 35 presents the World Premiere screening of the experimental narrative film
LIGHT (2017), 57 minutes
by Lenora Lee and Tatsu Aoki

in association with Lenora Lee Productions, Innocent Eyes and Lenses Films,
and Asian Improv aRts, powered by Asian Improv Nation

Saturday, 3/11, 7pm
Gray Area
2665 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

Included in the program are live performances by Tatsu Aoki, Melody Takata and Lenora Lee Dance (Yao Dang, Yi-Ting Hsu, Lynn Huang, Wayne Tai Lee)

PAGES short experimental film by Tatsu Aoki & Melody Takata, 15 minutes (precedes LIGHT)
PAGES is a meditation on the emergence of Japanese modernist and experimentalist art movements.

Co-presented by Chinese Historical Society of America and Axis Dance Company

Click here for more info

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asian Women United of Minnesota, Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women & Cornerstone
Invite You to the Twin Cities Premiere of LIGHT a Film by Lenora Lee and Tatsu Aoki

Thursday, 4/6, 2017
Cowles Auditorium, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
University of Minnesota
301 – 19th Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55455

2 Screenings: 3:30pm & 6:30pm
After each 57 minute screening, there will be a brief panel discussion with the filmmakers and a light reception to follow.

Click here for more info

Additional Event Partners:
University of Minnesota School of Social Work
University of Minnesota Asian American Studies Program
University of Minnesota Women’s Center
KC Fortune Cookie Factory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Foundation for Asian American Independent Media presents
The Chicago Premiere screening of LIGHT
as part of the 22nd Annual Asian American Showcase

Included in the program is a short film The Detached with a special dance and music performance by Lenora Lee, Tatsu Aoki, Jamie Kempkers, and Jonathan Chen, along with a post-performance discussion.

Saturday, 4/8, 8pm
Gene Siskel Film Center
164 N State Street
Chicago, IL 60601

Click here for more info
 

 

 

The Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Transnational Asian American Series at Columbia University present:
The New York Premiere film screening of LIGHT

Followed by talkback with Lenora Lee and Tatsu Aoki
Discussants: David Henry Hwang, Associate Professor of Theatre Arts in the Faculty of the Arts, Columbia University and
Karen Shimakawa, Associate Professor, Performance Studies, New York University

Tuesday, 4/11, 5pm
Casa Hispanica
Columbia University
612 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10027

Organized by The Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures, the Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality, and the Department of Music. Co-sponsored by the Department of Dance at Barnard College, the Center for Ethnomusicology, the Center for Jazz Studies, the Heyman Center for the Humanities, and the Society of Fellows for the Humanities.

Click here for more info

 

 

The DisOrient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon welcomes the Pacific Northwest Premiere of LIGHT

Included in the program is a special performance by and a talkback with Lenora Lee and Tatsu Aoki

Sunday, 4/23, 6pm
Bijou Art Cinemas
492 East 13th Avenue
Eugene, OR 97401

Click here for more info

 

 

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

Inspired by the life of Bessie M. Lee (1894 – 1955), who, after migrating to New York City, spent two years in indentured servitude, LIGHT is a film in which dance, memory, music and poetry 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. In LIGHT, Aoki and Lee highlight the lives of women, including Bessie M. Lee, who through the resilience and triumph over unimaginable experiences, were grounding forces in the creation of the New York Chinatown community in the early 1900s.

In memory of Bessie M. Lee
(1894 – 1955)
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BIOGRAPHIES

Tatsu Aoki (director and filmmaker) is a prolific artist, a filmmaker, composer, musician, educator, and a consummate bassist and shamisen lute player. Based in Chicago, Aoki works in a wide range of musical genres, ranging from traditional Japanese music, jazz, experimental, and creative music and producing experimental films.

Aoki was born in Tokyo in 1957 to Toyaki Moto, an artisan family proficient in Okiya, the tradition of working as booking and training agents for geisha in downtown Tokyo. At the age of four, Aoki became part of his family performance crew and received the essence of traditional Tokyo geisha cultural training and studies, which combine history with creativity. In the late 1960s, upon Tokyo’s economic and social decline and his grandmother’s passing, he shifted his training to American pop and experimental music. By the early 1970s, Aoki was active in Tokyo’s underground arts movement as a member of Gintenkai, an experimental ensemble that combined traditional music and new Western forms. At the same time he began working in small-gauge and experimental films, influenced by his biological father, who was a movie producer at Shintoho Studio.

In 1977, Aoki left Tokyo to study experimental filmmaking at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he is now adjunct associate professor in the Film, Video, and New Media Department, teaching film production and history. He has produced more than 30 experimental films and is one of the most in-demand performers of bass, shamisen, and taiko, appearing in over 90 recording projects. http://tatsuaoki.com/

Lenora Lee (producer, choreography director)
Lenora Lee has been a dancer, choreographer, artistic director, and producer for the past 19 years in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. She has been an Artist Fellow at the de Young Museum, a Djerassi Resident Artist, and a Visiting Scholar at New York University through the Asian / Pacific / American Institute. She is currently an Artist in Residence at Dance Mission Theater.

For the last ten years she 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. Her work has grown to encompass the creation, presentation, and screening of films, museum and gallery installations, civic engagement and educational programming. Lee 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.
www.LenoraLeeDance.com
_____________________________________________________________________________

CAST AND CREW

Conceived & Produced by Lenora Lee

Directed & Edited by Tatsu Aoki

Cinematography by Tatsu Aoki, Zhuoyun Chen, Joshua Chuck, Ben Estabrook, Eric Koziol, Heath Orchard, Joel Wanek

Choreography by Lenora Lee in collaboration with the cast.
Main cast: Juliet Ante, Kara Davis, Marina Fukushima (playing Bessie M. Lee), Sebastian Grubb, Chin-chin Hsu, Yi-Ting Hsu, Lynn Huang, Wei-Shan Lai, Yukihiko Noda (playing Lawrence S. Lee), Olivia Ting

Additional Cast Members: Tatsu Aoki, Corey Chan, Ming Quan Chang, Xenia Chiu, Mike Kilo, Derek Lang, Alson Lee, JoAnn Lee, Lenora Lee, Aimee Liu, Jean Liu, Sophia Ma, Sophia Noda, Suiso Ogawa, Zhenzhen Qi, Francis Wong, Michele Wong, Ronald Wong, Jared Young, Alicia Yu

Music

*LIGHT soundtrack recordings by
Francis Wong saxophones, flute
Tatsu Aoki bass, taiko
Jonathan Chen violin, electronics
Min Xiao Fen pipa, vocals

*Opening, Arrival, Bessie’s Song, In the Classroom, Walking to the Opera, Escape, Crossing, In the Park, Grove

ESL from Reduction Live recording featuring Kioto Aoki, Tatsu Aoki, Megan Lee, Melody Takata, Edward Wilkerson

Kitchen & Wine Cellar from CD recording AIR 091 Miyumi Project Live 2015 featuring Kioto Aoki, Tatsu Aoki, Mwata Bowden, Coco Elysses, Jamie Kempkers, Avreeayl Ra, Edward Wilkerson

No Need to be Sad from CD recording AIR 089 Needs Are Met featuring Ari Brown and Francis Wong

Touch of Sand from CD recording AIR 088 Pages featuring Kioto Aoki, Melody Takata

All the above recordings are courtesy of Asian Improv Records.

Killing the Green Lion vignette music recorded for the LIGHT soundtrack, featuring Corey Chan, Mike Kilo, MaryEllen Kirkpatrick, Melvina Lee, courtesy of Kei Lun Martial Arts

Poetry & Voiceover – Genny Lim

Sound Engineers – Adam Diller, Karen Stackpole, Caleb Wilitz
Color Correction & Sound Design – Joel Wanek
Lighting – Mary McFadden (Killing the Green Lion vignette)
Costumes – Lenora and JoAnn Lee
Sculpture – “Dialog” by Roland Mayer at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program
Production Assistance – Libby Jones, Gerard Veronica Sese, Kenjo Hatta-Wong
Graphic Design – Olivia Ting
Photos – Keira Heu-Jwyn Chang, Heath Orchard
_____________________

Our deepest appreciation to Bessie M. Lee’s grandson, Larry Lee, for sharing so much of his family’s story, and to Larry Lee and Asian Women United of Minnesota for their generous support of this project.

Very special thanks to:

Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University
Asia Society
Asian Improv aRts
Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center
Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach
Asian Women Giving Circle
Asian Women’s Shelter
Asian Women United of Minnesota
California Arts Council
California Lawyers for the Arts
Career, Mobility, Partnership (formerly Chinatown Manpower Project, Inc.)
Chinese Historical Society of America
CREDO Mobile
Dance Mission Theater
DAE Advertising
de Young Museum
Djerassi Resident Artists Program
Donaldina Cameron House
Franklin Templeton
Generous Individuals
Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund
New York Asian Women’s Center
New York City Department of Parks & Recreation
Puffin Foundation
San Francisco Arts Commission
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
True Light Lutheran Church
UTAP Printing & Packaging
Zellerbach Family Foundation

Copyright 2017 Lenora Lee Productions, LLC

www.LenoraLeeDance.com

Purple Gums Performances in Southern California 2/23 – 2/25!

Purple Gums Brass Ensemble, with dancer/choreographer Lenora Lee

Brass ensemble Purple Gums, comprised of Bobby Bradford (cornet), William Roper (tuba) and Francis Wong (saxophones) performs a tasty gumbo of jazz, free improv, ragtime and classical. The trio’s role is to carry on the tradition of making music in the moment. Charts don’t exist. Rehearsals have never occurred. Ideas are generated and developed on the bandstand. Joining the ensemble is Lenora Lee (dancer/choreographer). The performances at UC Irvine are the opening of a Southern California mini-tour, in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the production company Asian Improv aRts, and dedicated to the memory of the late composer, pianist, shamisen performer, bandleader, community activist, and educator Glenn Horiuchi (1955 – 2000).

Sponsored by the Department of Asian American Studies and the Department of Music

Featuring:
Francis Wong, sax and winds
William Roper, tuba and low brass
Lenora Lee, dancer
Bobby Bradford, cornet

Thursday, 2/23, 7pm
Room 218, Music and Media Building
UC Irvine
Free admission
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Brass ensemble Purple Gums, comprised of Bobby Bradford (cornet), William Roper (tuba) and Francis Wong (saxophones) performs a tasty gumbo of jazz, free improv, ragtime and classical. The trio’s role is to carry on the tradition of making music in the moment. Charts don’t exist. Rehearsals have never occurred. Ideas are generated and developed on the bandstand. Joining the ensemble is Lenora Lee (dancer/choreographer) and taiko artist and dancer Melody Takata. The performance at UC Riverside are part of a Southern California mini-tour, in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the production company Asian Improv aRts, is also dedicated to the memory of the late composer, pianist, shamisen performer, bandleader, community activist, and educator Glenn Horiuchi (1955 – 2000).

Featuring:
Francis Wong, sax and winds
William Roper, tuba and low brass
Lenora Lee, dancer
Melody Takata, taiko
Bobby Bradford, cornet

Friday, 2/24, 12-2pm
The Barn
UC Riverside
900 University Ave, Riverside, California 92507

Photo: Lenora Lee, by Gabrielle Lurie, The Chronicle
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Musicians Francis Wong, Bobby Bradford, and William Roper, dancer/choreographers Lenora Lee and Melody Takata, will present an interdisciplinary concert in tribute to the late composer/instrumentalist Glenn Horiuchi and in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the production company Asian Improv aRts.

Click here for information on Glenn

Featuring:
Francis Wong, sax and winds
William Roper, tuba and low brass
Lenora Lee, dancer
Melody Takata, taiko
Bobby Bradford, cornet

Saturday, 2/25, 2-4pm
Far East Lounge
Little Tokyo
353 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Photo: Melody Takata, by Walter Wagner
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About the artists:

Bobby Bradford (cornetist, trumpeter, and composer) took up cornet in 1949 and played with Leo Wright, Buster Smith, and John Hardee (1952), with Ornette Coleman and Eric Dolphy in Los Angeles (1953), and in air force bands. After belonging to the Ornette Coleman Quartet in New York (1961) he attended Huston-Tillotson College (BM 1963) and moved to Los Angeles (1964), where he formed the New Art Jazz Ensemble with John Carter. He taught elementary school (1966-71), lived and worked in England (1971), then rejoined Coleman’s group for a brief period in New York. From 1974 he taught at Pasadena City College and Pomona College, and from 1976 to 1978 belonged to the Little Big Horn workshop with Carter, Arthur Blythe, James Newton, and other free-jazz musicians. Bradford has performed most often with Carter; he has also appeared with David Murray Octet (1982-4), Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra (from 1982), John Steven’s Freebop (1986), and his own group Mo’tet. As a composer he has been influenced by the blues and the music of Coleman.

William Roper (tuba) is an interdisciplinary artist based in Los Angeles. He has received awards from the NEA, CA Arts Council, L.A. Dept. of Cultural Affairs, Brody Arts Fund, ArtMatters Inc., American Composers Forum, Meet the Composer, Durfee Foundation and JUSFC. He has been a resident artist at Djerassi Artists Program – California, Oberfalzer Künstlerhaus – Bavaria, College of the Canyons – California and a Japan/US Friendship Association Creative Artist Fellow in Japan. He has fulfilled commissions from Dance L.A., the Gloria Newman Dance Theatre, Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre, SASSAS and the College of the Canyons Symphonic Band. His compositions have been performed by the California E.A.R. Unit, TaiHei Ensemble, Sounds New Ensemble, Duquesne Contemporary Ensemble, Cal Arts Cello Ensemble and others.

Few musicians are as accomplished as Francis Wong (Saxophone), considered one of “the great saxophonists of his generation” by the late jazz critic Phil Elwood. For over 30 years he has performed for audiences in North America, Asia, and Europe with such with such luminaries as Jon Jang, Tatsu Aoki, Genny Lim, William Roper, Bobby Bradford, and the late Glenn Horiuchi, Fred Anderson, and John Tchicai. Wong’s imaginative career straddles roles as varied as performing artist, youth mentor, composer, artistic director, community activist, nonprofit organization manager, consultant, music producer, and academic lecturer.

For the last ten years Lenora Lee (dancer/choreographer) 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. Her work has grown to encompass the creation, presentation, and screening of films, museum and gallery installations, civic engagement and educational programming. Lee 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. She has been a dancer, choreographer, artistic director, and producer for the past 18 years in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. In 2013 she was an Artist Fellow at the de Young Museum and a Djerassi Resident Artist. She is currently a Visiting Scholar at New York University, an Artist in Residence at Dance Mission Theater, and recently completed a newly commissioned work by Fort Mason Center in 2015.

Melody Takata has been performing in the traditional arts for over 25 years, from her upbringing in the Japanese American community of Los Angeles. She is founder and director of GenRyu Arts, established in 1995 as Gen Taiko and incorporated in 2008. She completed the ACTA master apprentice program for shamisen with Hideko Nakajima Sensei in 2003, and, in celebration of Gen Taiko’s 10th anniversary, the ACTA master apprentice program with 90 year-old Madame Fujima Kansuma. Takata has been one of the most significant collaborators for Tsukasa Taiko’s national expansion program.

 

A great article by LeRoy Downs about the 2/25 performance “Remembering Glenn Horiuchi”

The Theme is Love and Unity: Santa Monica High Jazz Ensemble, Purple Gums and Dianne Reeves

Day of Remembrance 2/19/17, 2pm

Bay Area Day of Remembrance 2017
75th Anniversary of Executive Order 9066

FRAGILE FREEDOMS
Carrying the Light for Justice
Sunday, February 19, 2017, 2 – 4PM
AMC Kabuki 8 Theatres

Click here for the San Francisco Chronicle article

Photo: Lenora Lee, by Gabrielle Lurie, The Chronicle

CALL FOR DANCERS & THEATER ARTISTS!

Lenora Lee Dance is seeking male dancers and theater artists for a series of immersive performances on the Angel Island Immigration Station. Inspired by the experiences of those detained and processed there, Within These Walls will transform and animate these historic spaces into sites for remembrance, and will be the highlight of Lenora Lee Dance’s 10th Anniversary Season.

Shows on the Immigration Station will be in September 2017.  We will also do some filming there in September to create a full-length dance film from this project.

We are open to dancers of various movement backgrounds. Training in modern / contemporary dance, experience in choreography, improvisation, and collaboration are a plus.

Those interested can email LenoraLeeDance@gmail.com or call (415) 816-9376 for more information, and to sign up for an audition rehearsal appointment.

www.LenoraLeeDance.com