Interdisciplinary dance works giving artistic voice to Asian Americans

In Community

SanSan Kwan & Johnny Nguyen. Photo by Robbie Sweeny
Dearest friends and community,
As the unrest continues across the country in the face of a pandemic, we are being called to stand in solidarity with the movements speaking truth to power and calling for justice for our Black brothers, sisters, and siblings. George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. Stephon Clark. Tony McDade. And the other countless lives taken by the systemic violence against Black bodies.
Our company illuminates narratives through movement to envision a more compassionate, empathetic, and just world for all. With this, we recognize our role in working towards anti-racism in support of Black Liberation because Black Liberation IS collective liberation
Our work has been inspired by Asian Improv aRts and Asian Improv Arts Midwest building on the legacies, histories, struggles, and triumphs of Asian Americans in this country, which in part are connected with those of Black Americans. Civil Rights. Black Power. Black Arts. Yellow Power. The Third World Liberation Front. We are being called to remember these histories and embody them in the present moment. 
We are inviting you to join us in taking a stand to listen to, support, and amplify Black voices, to donate or contribute other resources to Black-led organizations working for change, and in undoing Anti-Blackness within our own communities. In the face of so much, we are being asked to not turn the other way from the grave injustice, discrimination, violence, and killing that has been perpetrated on Black people in this country for over 400 years and to recognize that what is happening right now is a reaction to the systems of oppression that have been held in place. 

This is an extraordinary time and no matter how challenging and daunting it may feel at times, this is an opportunity to find the deeper parts of ourselves; to allow our actions to be driven by love, courage, hope, truth, grace, honesty, and clarity; to take care of one another; and to re-evaluate what is truly important. Knowing in our hearts the importance of expressing love and solidarity to all who are suffering, we are committed to doing this work and hope that you as our beloved community can join us in this fight for justice.

This is a time to stand in community, in support of one another, and we are standing in solidarity.
In gratitude and love,
Lenora Lee, Johnny Nguyen, Lucy Tafler, and Hien Huynh 
Recognizing the bonds, collaboration, and dedication of 
James Newton and Jon Jang in South Africa
Tatsu Aoki and Fred Anderson
 Jon Jang,  Avotcja Jiltonilro, Francis Wong, Myron Cohen, Sascha Jacobsen, Sandy Poindexter. Photo by Bob Hsiang
Resources and information on how you can get involved:
Campaign Zero – a comprehensive platform of research-based policy solutions to end police brutality in America  


Support Victims’ Families 

Donate to Black-Led Organizations in Minneapolis

If you are able, please contribute to local Bay Area organizations

Bay Area Resources

Edward Wilkerson Jr., Francis Wong, William Roper, Tatsu Aoki, Mwata Bowden, Kioto Aoki, Melody Takata. Photo by Ken Carl
*Major gratitude to these local organizations Zaccho Dance Theatre, API Cultural CenterKularts, as these resource links were compiled in part from links they shared

Words of Gratitude from our Artists. Dancing Remotely

Our early research and creative process, remote individual rehearsals 
in our homes and nearby spaces during shelter in place, March 2020.
Dear Friends,
We hope you and your loved ones are healthy and safe during this time of uncertainty and crisis.
We wanted to extend our appreciation to you,
  • update you on how LLD and our artists are being affected at this time,
  • offer an opportunity for you to participate,
  • share about what we’re creating
While we had to cancel and postpone all of our in-person events, rehearsals and performances, we are still continuing to gather remotely and rehearse individually to generate content for our current project “And the Community Will Rise” and to research the impact of public housing in San Francisco. 
Due to the uncertainty of when the pandemic will subside, economy start up again, and in the hopes of our work returning, we’ve felt it crucial to support the artists we are collaborating with regardless of how long the restrictions on public events will last. 
We’re being called to innovate, reinvent the way we see performing arts, and understand the power in collective voices that continue to engage people, reach new communities nationally, call for participation, and find creative means to share what we embody as artists and are going through as a society.
Today we are asking you to deepen your support of our artists and culture bearers, who provide hope, alternative perspective, and a compassionate lens on the challenges we face, endure, and triumph from everyday.
Your support enables our creative team to continue working during this period of survival.
“I have lost 75% of my income because of this pandemic.  My work as an artist is to make visible the invisible, to dance thoughts and images into fruition, to be a time machine, a medium, a mover of emotions, a gardener of energies, a storyteller and a light.  I hope to continue to shine my light on important issues through dance. Now more than ever the world needs us.” 
– Anna Greenberg
“It’s been two weeks of sheltering in place, and all in-person rehearsals, teaching gigs, events, and shows have been cancelled. Though there is much to be concerned about and I miss seeing my friends and family and I am worried about their well being-from a personal perspective, I have much to be grateful for. And I am grateful for Lenora Lee Dance, who keeps all collaborators connected and continues to find creative work opportunities to support us financially, emotionally, and artistically.” 
– Megan Lowe
“My whole sense of who I am as an artist, creator and collaborator has frozen mid-air. All of my artistic projects for 2020 have been postponed or cancelled-which has deeply challenged me to put my creativity towards imagining how I can still have an artistic practice in my home and in physical isolation. While most of my work as an administrator supporting other artists remains stable, I see my friends and peers completely at a loss – scrambling to adapt and learn how to make a living in this unprecedented time.”
 – Melissa Lewis 
“What COVID is teaching me is about the pivot as a choreography of resilience. I lost the majority of my income for the next four months, potentially further, a total of about $3000-4000 lost in a flash as if flood. This money directly would have covered rent, utilities, and food, simply put. However, my creative spirit has found some solace in dialogue, virtual collaboration and home videos. This is where the resilience lives, where seeds are planted again as spring returns.” 
– Gabriel Christian



Lenora Lee Dance (LLD), based in San Francisco, is seeking Boston based Asian/Asian American modern / contemporary dancers for “Convergent Waves” a series of 3 site-specific, immersive, multimedia performances in Boston at the Pao Arts Center, April 23 – 25, 2021. 


LLD is looking for dancers with experience in choreography, improvisation, and collaboration. Rehearsals will begin in Boston April or May 2020, occurring one week per month almost every month, for approximately 20 hours each time. Below is a tentative draft of the schedule. All rehearsal and performance time is paid.


Those interested can email your cell phone number, a resume, your website, and up to four video links of dance pieces you have choreographed or are featured dancing in by Sunday, 3/8/20. Call (‪415) 913-8725‬ for more information.


Potential Rehearsal & Performance Dates:


– 4/23 – 4/29/20 or 5/18 – 5/24/20

– 6/22 – 7/1/20 for a week

– 10/15 – 10/25 (with performance excerpts at Arts Emerson 10/24 or 10/25)

– 11/30 – 12/5/20 (with performances excerpts at Gardner Museum 12/3/20)

– one week per month January and February, dates TBD

– 3/26 – 4/2/21 (with performance excerpts at Gardner Museum 4/1/21)

– 4/16 – 4/25/21 (tech & 3 shows)



“Convergent Waves” is a site-responsive, immersive, multimedia experience premiering at Pao Arts Center (Pao) in Boston April 23 – 25, 2021, with potential touring May 2021-November 2022. LLD will transform Pao into an immersive site where the audience follows performers on an interactive journey, that will feature 6 dancers, multimedia design, recorded original music, research, and voiceover interviews with activists and residents. 


Audience are reoriented for a unique perspective that merges memory, contemporary reality, and social commentary. Walking through the building will be like walking through the interior of someone’s body with the idea of memory housed in the architectural blueprint of the building. 


Pao sits on a historically significant piece of land, Parcel 24, where hundreds of residents were displaced in the 1960s in order to build a highway on-ramp. The reclamation of this land by Pao represents a powerful call for community oriented development in the face of rapid change. The work, which celebrates the contributions of activists and non-profit leaders, will make a collective statement for the preservation of community as neighborhoods across the country inhabited for generations face displacement through gentrification. 


Supported in part by Pao Arts Center, Isabella Sewart Gardner Museum, National Endowment for the Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts Expeditions Tour Planning Grant, Arts Emerson, and Generous Individuals


About the Company

For the last 13 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, or in the air, 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 San Francisco native Lenora Lee, who has been a dancer, choreographer and artistic director for the past 22. She has been an Artist Fellow at the de Young Museum, a Djerassi Resident Artist, a Visiting Scholar at New York University, an Artist in Residence at Dance Mission, and a 2019 United States Artists Fellow.


Photo: Lynn Huang by Robbie Sweeny

INAUGURAL CONCERT: Vijay Iyer with Hafez Modirzadeh – 1/23/20

Asian Improv aRts, Lenora Lee Dance, and API Cultural Center are pleased to present:


Vijay Iyer (piano) with Hafez Modirzadeh (saxophone)


Thursday, January 23, 2020
7:30 pm – 8:45 pm
At 945 ArtSpace

945 Clay St., San Francisco, CA 94108

$25 adv./ $35 at the door

Doors open at 7pm. VERY LIMITED SEATING


If driving, the Portsmouth Square Parking Garage is recommended, with entrance on Kearny at Clay

This is the INAUGURAL CONCERT for 945 ArtSpace, a project of Asian Improv aRts, Lenora Lee Dance, API Cultural Center, and the Chinatown Community Development Center. The purpose of 945 ArtSpace is to provide a dedicated venue for artists and cultural activists to work in the intimate setting of a community-based storefront.

Composer-pianist VIJAY IYER has carved out a unique path as an influential, prolific, shape-shifting presence in modern music. He was described by the New York Times as a “social conscience, multi-media collaborator, system builder, rhapsodist, historical thinking, and multicultural gateway.” A winner of multiple awards including a 2012 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award and a 2013 MacArthur Fellowship, he holds a lifetime appointment as the Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts at Harvard University. Visit:

Composer-saxophonist Hafez Modirzadeh is active in the realms of performing, teaching, recording, publishing, and presenting cross-cultural perspectives regarding musical culture, tradition, and innovation. He has been instrumental in the ImprovisAsians annual festival held at San Francisco State University for the past 15 years. He is a Professor of Music and advisor for Jazz and Creative/World Music Studies at San Francisco State University. visit:

Both Vijay and Hafez are valued contributors to Asian Improv’s work and legacy over the decades. 945 ArtSpace is extremely proud to present these extraordinary artists and community members as part of our first season here at 945 ArtSpace.

Top photo: Vijay Iyer, by Monica Jane Frisell

Bottom photo: Hafez Modirzadeh

CALL FOR “Through Fire & Water” PARTICIPANTS

“Through Fire & Water” is a series of performance events featuring 24 artists and arts groups on 6/13 at Joe Goode Anex. This series of events is in dedication to Jory Horn (April 21, 1991 – November 19, 2019), a profound dance artist and choreographer. Jory combined Cambodian culture and dance with contemporary dance as a means of advocacy to address challenges and celebrations of the Cambodian-American community. His guidance and mentorship of the Cambodian art form is a true testament of the strength and resilience of his people and survived through living dance masters Chayra Burt, Chey Chankethya, and Prumsodun Ok.

*** update of event for safety and wellness ***

Hi everyone, wishing you all much love, health, safety, and clarity. As we remember our beloved Jory with his recent 4/21 birthday, we wanted to reach out to share our plans for this 6/13 event in dedication to him. We are planning to postpone the event until public gathering restrictions are lifted, it is safe for groups to rehearse/prepare their pieces, and precautions for artists and audience members can be established in accordance with health and safety standards. Unfortunately we are not able to determine a date at this time but will make an announcement when it becomes clearer. Thank you for your care and involvement.

Lenora Lee Dance (LLD) is seeking participants of all artistic disciplines to submit proposals for 5-8 minute performance works, writings, or visual / media art dedicated to Jory Horn. 24 artists and arts groups will be split up into 2 programs set to take place 6/13, at the Joe Goode Anex. There may be an artist fee / honorarium available for participation, however we cannot guarantee it at this time.

The following 20 artists and arts groups from the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, and Stockton will support or perform dance, music, text and poetry, with four additional ones to join. Artists will be split into 2 programs, each with receptions to follow.

– 5pm – Opening Greeting
– 5:30pm – Program A + reception
– 7:30pm – Program B + reception

Lauren Bedal
Christine Cali / CALI & CO dance
Zackary Forcum
Miguel Forbes / Ogún Ayé Project
Rhummanee Hang
Meegan Hertensteiner
Hien Huynh
Lenora Lee / Lenora Lee Dance
Lynn Huang
Megan Lowe / Megan Lowe Dances
Alyssa Mitchel
Morodok Khmer Performing Arts
Johnny Nguyen
Alleluia Panis
Monica Sok
Riley Taylor
Janine Trinidad
Alyssandra Wu / Alyssandra Katherine Dance
Alan Yip
Jamie Nakama
Kristen Rulifson
Windy Kahana

Please email the following by Monday, 1/20/20 to and

  • your name / group name
  • your phone number
  • city you / your group are based in
  • name and description of the piece
  • genre (dance, music, poetry, visual or media art, etc)
  • length of piece (between 5-8 minutes)
  • your availability for 6/13
  • a short biography
  • 2-3 performance photos, with photo credits (doesn’t have to be related to the proposed piece)
  • sample videos of your artistic works, (proposed work preferred, but not required)
  • your website

“Forgiveness stems from something greater and is related to a greater ancestral memory and feeling. Before we are ever born, it is in us. A destiny and a pattern, but there are lots of things that fall under our own immediate control, the fact that I have freedom and the choices to be able to just choose is a privilege.” – Jory Horn

There is a need for people to act in the face of loss, and celebrate the meaning of the work. For LLD, the loss of Jory brings more meaning to our work in general, with the bonds we share in solidarity and collective community, with heightened awareness we can hold to care for one another.

Please also consider donating towards a new scholarship in dedication of Jory Horn alumni that supports aspiring dancers at Sacramento State University.

Photo Credits:
Photo 2 Jory Horn by Robbie Sweeny
Photo 3 Jory Horn by Tony Nguyen