Interdisciplinary dance works giving artistic voice to Asian Americans

Community Events

ImprovisAsians 2014!: Reflections Collective: Cultural Preservation & Artistic Legacy March 3 – 7

Francis_Hafez by Andy Nozaka_1870671-R5-049-23

ImprovisAsians 2014!: Reflections Collective: Cultural Preservation and Artistic Legacy March 3 – 7 San Francisco State University

ImprovisAsians! is an annual series of performances and workshops at San Francisco State University exploring the connection between the performing arts and community-building. This year’s program will focus on preserving living cultural legacies in the arts. ImprovisAsians 2014 is sponsored by Asian Improv aRts in association with the School of Music and Dance, and American Indian Studies. All events are free and open to the public!

Monday, March 3
Voices from the Canefields: Folksongs from Japanese Immigrant Workers in Hawai’i
Knuth Hall
1:10-2:00 pm

Dr. Franklin Odo (founding director of the Smithsonian Instituttion’s Asian Pacific American Program and author of the book Voices from the Canefields: Folksongs from Japanese Immigrant Workers in Hawai‘i/Oxford University Press) with SFSU Professors/Musicians Dr. Wesley Ueunten and Dr. John-Carlos Perea (Ethnic Studies) and guest musicians Francis Wong, Masanori Oba, and Julie Beal. This event is co-sponsored by SFSU Asian American Studies, Edison Uno Institute of Nikkei and Uchinanchu Studies (SFSU), and the Dilena Takeyama Center for the Study of Japan and Japanese Culture (SFSU)

Wednesday, March 5
Asian Improv Today
Knuth Hall
1:10-2:00 pm

Asian Improv aRts Co-Founder and Creative Director Francis Wong and guest musicians Karl Evangelista, Yangqin Zhao, John-Carlos Perea, and dancer/choreographer Lenora Lee will give a special concert showing the range of work being produced by the celebrated artist-driven production company.

Thursday, March 6
Legends and Legacies
CA 152
6:10-8:50 pm

In this panel discussion Professors Hafez Modirzadeh and John Carlos Perea and guests Francis Wong and Lenora Lee will discuss collections (archiving, documentation, interpretation) efforts in the Persian, American Indian, and Asian Improv artistic communities.

Friday, March 7
The Inspiration of Mahmoud Zoufonoun
Knuth Hall
1:10-2:00 pm

Mahmoud Zoufonoun (1920 – 2013)

SFSU Music Professor and saxophonist Hafez Modirzadeh performs with alumni of SF State’s Creative World Ensemble, members of Mahmoud Zoufonoun’s family and other special guests. There will be a reception following the concert at 2:15 p.m. celebrating the J. Paul Leonard Library Collections work on M. Zoufonoun.

For more information, click here.

The Latest News from Composer/Musician Francis Wong

Click here for the latest news from composer / musician Francis Wong
including Video from a concert in Poznan, Poland – paying tribute to arts organizer Wojtek Juszczak as part of the Made in Chicago Festival in an ensemble led by Chicago luminaries Mwata Bowden and Tatsu Aoki.

Francis Wong’s “Diapsora Tales #2: 1969” 9/20, 7:30pm at the Berkeley Art Museum!


Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Chinese Culture Center, and Asian Improv aRts present

Diaspora Tales #2: 1969

The Francis Wong Unit featuring saxophonist Francis Wong, bassist John-Carlos Perea,and guitarist Karl Evangelista with guests taiko (Japanese drums) artist Melody Takata, yangqin artist Yangqin Zhou, dancer/choreographer Lenora Lee, and rapper/performerAK Black.

Immerse yourself in Diaspora Tales #2: 1969, an invigorating multimedia work encompassing music, dance, spoken word, and video projection. Francis Wong, an acclaimed composer and jazz musician, tells the story of his Bay Area family living through turbulent times, touching on UC Berkeley’s Third World strike (which resulted in the establishment of ethnic studies programs at the University), the Black Panthers, drug culture, and other themes.

Friday, September 20th, 7:30pm

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

2626 Bancroft Way

Berkeley, CA 94720

For tickets and more info:

Media Sponsor: Eastwind Books of Berkeley, Photo by Andy Nozaka

ImprovisAsians 2013! Re(al)liance: Music, Collaboration, & Resistance April 15th – 18th!

Francis_Hafez by Andy Nozaka_1870671-R5-049-23

ImprovisAsians 2013!

Re(al)liance: Music, Collaboration, and Resistance

Sponsored by Asian Improv aRts in association with The Departments of Music and Dance and American Indian Studies at
San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA

This twenty-fifth anniversary edition of Asian Improv’s annual series of workshops and concerts at San Francisco State University, ImprovisAsians! will explore the role of performance as a community-organizing method enabling “re(al)liance” through shared histories of music, collaboration, and resistance.

All events will take place on the San Francisco State University campus.

Admission is free and open to the public for all events.

Monday, April 15th

1:10-2pm, Knuth Hall, Creative Arts Building, Room 132: Shiraz Quartet Reunion with James Norton and Hafez Modirzadeh (winds), joined by John Shifflett (bass) and Jason Lewis (drums)

2:10-3:25pm, Burk Hall 225 “The Art of Agency I”: a performance and discussion featuring Francis Wong (winds), Wesley Ueunten (sanshin – 3 string Okinawan lute), and Lenora Lee (dance).

Tuesday, April 16th

3:35-4:50, Creative Arts Building, Room 152: “The Art of Agency II”: a performance and discussion featuring John-Carlos Perea (bass, flute, voice),Wesley Ueunten, Francis Wong, and Lenora Lee.

5:30-7:30pm, Creative Arts Building, Room 152: Performing Re(al)liances: A roundtable discussion on the use of music in Chinese American, Native American, and Palestinian communities in relation to histories of occupation, relocation, and alliance building. Guests to include Dr Jess Ghanam (UCSF), Susan Greene (Break the Silence Media and Arts Project), Genny Lim (poet laureate), Francis Wong (AIR), and Dr John-Carlos Perea (AIS, SFSU).

Wednesday, April 17th

1:10-2pm, Knuth Hall, Creative Arts Building, Room 132: John-Carlos Perea Trio with Masaru Koga and Karl Evangelista. Over the course of their careers AIR co-founders Jang and Wong have cited the important influence of Creek and Kaw saxophonist Jim Pepper on their artistic visions. This performance will feature Pepper’s compositions alongside indigenized versions of jazz standards arranged by Perea.

Thursday, April 18th

3:30-5:30, Creative Arts Building, Room 146: Creative World Ensemble Master class with Dr Hafez Modirzadeh, focusing on original student works to accompany live poetry by Avotcja from her newly published book, “With Every Step I Take”.

6:10-8:50, Creative Arts Building, Room 152: “Art, Entrepreneurship, and Activism”: A roundtable discussion with Jon Jang, Francis Wong, Lenora Lee, and Melody Takata.

For more information:

Photo by Andy Nozaka

Beautiful images by the amazing photographer Robbie Sweeny

Beautiful prints by the amazing photographer Robbie Sweeny. You can order them as gifts and receive them with plenty of time for the holidays!

CAAM Co-Presents Global Lens @ Great Star Theater on December 1st

CAAM Co-Presents Global Lens @ Great Star Theater on December 1st

CAAM is partnering with The Global Film Initiative (GFI) to present Global Lens @ Great Star Theater, an event of GFI’s Arthouse Revival program this Saturday, December 1st at the historic Great Star Theater. During this event, three award-winning Chinese films from the Global Lens Collection will be screened at the historic Great Star Theater, San Francisco Chinatown’s last remaining film theater. The featured films include Dir. Peng Tao’s third feature THE CREMATOR (AKA FEN SHI REN)GETTING HOME (LUO YE GUI GEN) by Dir. Yang Zhang, and STOLEN LIFE (SHEN SI JIE) by Dir. Li Shaohong. Tickets are $5 for members of CAAM, GFI and the Chinese Culture Center and $7 for general admission.

Arthouse Revival is a project designed to support the revival of independent arthouse cinema nationwide through dynamic presentations of the critically-acclaimed Global Lens film series at iconic theaters such as the Great Star – a 500-seat landmark theater and opera-house credited with introducing Hong Kong cinema to the U.S. in the mid-1960s. For more information about this event, visit CAAM’s website,

10/28 at Yoshi’s – Asian Improv aRts’ 25th Anniversary Celebration!

10/28 at Yoshi’s – Asian Improv aRts’ 25th Anniversary Celebration!

“Women” Exhibition at the Chinese Culture Center

“Women” Exhibition at the Chinese Culture Center

SingTao Daily article about the Chinatown Music Festival!

8/24/12 SingTao Daily article on the Chinatown Music Festival.  Photo features festival producer and creative director of Asian Improv aRts – saxophonist/composer Francis Wong with dancer/choreographer Lenora Lee.


3rd Annual Chinatown Music Festival Saturday, 8/25!

The Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco presents

The 3rd Annual Chinatown Music Festival: America’s Cup of Tea

Saturday, August 25th, 2012, 11:00am – 5:00pm

Admission is FREE to the public

Musicians Jon Jang and Francis Wong, photo by J. Astra Brinkmann

Please join us for the 3rd Annual Chinatown Music Festival: America’s Cup of Tea, on Saturday, August 25, 2012 in Portsmouth Square from 11 am – 5 pm. Under the theme of Chinatown, Our Home, the Festival will feature the premiere of a newly commissioned work by pianist/composer Jon Jang celebrating the contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the First Transcontinental Railroad, the Latin jazz of the John Calloway Quintet, traditional Chinese cultural arts from the Yellow River Drummers and Kei Lun Martial Arts, and the perennial rhythm and blues favorite Jest Jammin’. Collaborating in the presentation of the event are these organizations: Chinatown Community Development Center, Chinese Progressive Association, Asian Improv aRts, and the API Cultural Center.

The new work by Jon Jang, entitled Central Pacific, Central Subway,will be the opening of a yearlong temporary art project by CCC entitled Journey to Chinatown, supported by the San Francisco Arts Commission Central Subway Art Project. In the composer’s words, “Just as historical political leaders Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Sun Yat-sen shared a vision of the railroad as an important way to unify their respective countries, United States and China, the Central Subway will help unify San Francisco and enhance Chinatown’s role as a cultural destination for all San Franciscans.

Also featured will be tea tasting, crafts, games, film screenings, cultural demonstrations, and the final opportunity to view the acclaimed 2012 Xian Rui exhibition of Adrian Wong’s work Orange Peel, Harbor Seal, Hyperreal in the CCC Gallery.

The Festival is thankful for the generous support of Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, Neighborhood Arts Collaborative, San Francisco Arts Commission, Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, Recology, Verizon, Portsmouth Square Parking Garage Foundation. The media sponsor for this year’s festival is the Sing Tao Daily.


Jest Jammin’

Performance Schedule

11-11:30am                   Yellow River Drummers

11:30-11:45am                      Opening Ceremony

11:45-12:15pm                         Jon Jang Quartet

12:30-1:45pm                                 Jest Jammin’

2:10-2:45pm                           Jon Jang Quartet

3:00-4:00pm                 John Calloway Quintet

4:15-4:45pm                      Kei Lun Martial Arts


Portsmouth Square (across the bridge from the Chinese Culture Center 3rd Floor

Entrance on Kearny Street between Clay and Washington), San Francisco, CA 94108

Chinese Culture Center
750 Kearny Street, 3rd Floor
San Francisco 94108

More information – Call (415) 986-1822 or email

Wednesday, May 23, 8pm – “4×4” Francis Wong Special Edition Quartet meets Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quartet

Featuring: Wayne Wallace, Murray Low, David Belove, Colin Douglas, Francis Wong, Jon Jang, Deszon X. Claiborne, Tatsu Aoki

   Wednesday, May 23, 2012 / 8pm 
   Hall of Culture, African American Arts and Culture Complex (AAACC)
762 Fulton Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
Admission: $15 advance online, $20 at the door
Five-time Grammy nominee, WAYNE WALLACE, is one of the more respected exponents of African American-Latin music in the world today.  He is an accomplished trombonist, arranger, educator, and composer with compositions for film and television.  Wayne will lead a stellar ensemble featuring Murray Low, piano; David Belove, bass; Colin Douglas, drums. 

Creative Director and co-founder of Asian Improv aRts, saxophonist/composer FRANCIS WONG, is celebrated internationally for his role in sharing the experiences of Asians in America through music and interdisciplinary collaborations.  His ensemble will feature Jon Jang, piano; Deszon X. Claiborne, drums; and Tatsu Aoki, bass. 

Photos by Andy Nozaka and Dennis Scherzer
For more info, email, visit , or call (415) 908-3636

KPIX CBS Channel 5 – May 9, 6pm segment on CHSA and “Passages” installation

IMG_1031  Please watch the KPIX CBS Channel 5 news at 6pm on Wednesday, May 9th  to see Linda Yee featuring CHSA exhibits and programs.  She speaks with CHSA director Sue Lee and “Passages” installation artist / dancer Lenora Lee.  Special performance by Lenora and Francis Wong.

The Music That Started The Movement, With Charlie Chin

  This Saturday, May 12, 1pm at CHSA – 965 Clay St (bt Powell & Stockton)