Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company at Kupferberg Center for the Arts / Lunar New Year: Celebrating the Year of the Dragon
Saturday, January 27 and Sunday, January 28, 2024
Two performances on Saturday (3:00 & 7:00 pm)
One performance on Sunday (3:00 pm)
Ticket Prices run from $10 – $20
Kupferberg Center for the Arts at Queens College, Flushing, NY
65-30 Kissena Blvd, Queens, NY
Ring in the Year of the Dragon with Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company with an unforgettable weekend at the Kupferberg Center for the Arts at Queens College, Flushing, NY. These joyous Lunar New Year events will be a cultural extravaganza filled with vibrant performances, traditional festivities, and immersive experiences. Tickets are available online at https://kupferbergcenter.org/lunar-new-year/or by phone at (718)-793-8080.
The Year of the Dragon is considered one of the most auspicious and significant years in the Chinese zodiac, symbolizing strength, courage, and good fortune. To mark this special occasion, Kupferberg Center for the Arts has partnered with the renowned Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company to create a celebration like no other.
Family-friendly performances will take place on Saturday, January 27, and Sunday, January 28 at 3pm, featuring majestic dragons, dancing lions, Mongolian dance, acrobats, and much more, with all tickets $20 (no additional fees).
On Saturday, January 27 at 7pm, the company will present a contemporary program combining modern and traditional dances. Be prepared to be enthralled by their mesmerizing choreography, combining contemporary and traditional elements in a breathtaking display of talent and culture. Tickets are $30 (no additional fees).
The program includes:
Lion in the City a new collaborative work by Hip-Hop legend Rokafella and Kwikstep with Company’s Director of New and Contemporary Dance Peiju Chien-Pott. This new lion dance integrates Hip-Hop movement and beats with traditional Chinese Lion Dance. One of the most popular dances performed in the Lunar New Year Celebration. The Lion Dance is a prayer for peace on earth as a child is able to play with a ferocious beast in harmony. There are many styles of the Lion Dance in China, and for 2023, the Company celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Hip-Hop, memorializing the pioneering spirit of Nai-Ni Chen, who began working with Rokafella and Kwikstep in 2017, developing a dialog between her contemporary/Chinese movement style and hip-hop. This dance was originally commissioned by the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in 2023.
Dragon Festival is the most spectacular folk dance performed in the Lunar New Year Celebration – the Dragon carries auspicious powers and nature’s grace. The Chinese Dragon is a spiritual and cultural symbol that represents prosperity and good luck, as well as a water deity that nurture harmony. It controls rainfall, river and ocean. Dragon favors pearl and usually chases after it. In this dance, the choreographer first creates a big festival with numerous colorful props and fanciful dance steps. The dragon descends from heaven, blesses the earth. Blue flags symbolize water to bless for enough rainfall for the coming year. And colorful ribbons are a prayer for the prosperity of the community. For those fortunate to see this dance in the Lunar New Year, their coming year will be filled with peace, harmony and good fortune.
Mongolian Festival is a new work commissioned by the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in 2024 for the year of the Dragon. The Mongolian people are one of the five major races that make up the Chinese people (Han, Mongolian, Manchurian, Muslim and Tibetan). Mongolian Dance movements originated from the nomadic life of the people. Hand, shoulder and leg movements express aspects of Mongol herders everyday lifestyle such as milking the cow, cooking, hunting, household labor, customs and traditions, etc. This dance expresses the joy of the Mongolian people as they celebrate the completion of their herding season. Their movements are proud and broad, showcasing their powerful tradition and as they pray for abundance and prosperity.
Whirlwind is a phenomenon in the desert caused by the air coming from the mountains to the plain in different directions. This dance takes inspiration from the choreographer’s journey on the Silk Road which passes through Central Asia, connecting China to Europe and crossing many deserts and mountains. It was the pathway not only connecting trade and merchandise but also cultures, art and religions of many countries. In Central Asia, some believe Whirlwind is the manifestation of the great breath, the divine energy of the universe. Whirlwind is an exploration of movements based on trance, rhythmic breathing, sound and spiral motion.
Way of Fire is an exploration of the ancient Chinese theory that the cycles of creation and destruction correspond to the ever-changing phenomena of nature. The “Five” refers to the five elements: wood, water, fire, metal, and earth. The cycles are also used to mark the passage of time. For instance, this year is the year of the Wood Dragon. Each element, as part of the forces of nature, creates another in harmony and destroys another in conflict. This exploration focuses on the element of “Fire,” which is used to extract metal and can be destroyed by water. With live music by Wei Sun on guzheng.
Spear Dance is taken from the Chinese Peking Opera, which has over three hundred years of history and is considered the most well-preserved Chinese performing art in China. The dancer in this piece portrays a warrior who is preparing to go into the battlefield. His strength is shown through his acrobatic movements and dramatic poses.
Coinstick Dance originated with the Hans in Hubei province and is traditionally done by street performers. People drill holes in the sticks, which are made of bamboo, and fill the holes with coins. Dancers hit the sticks against their bodies and the ground to produce interesting rhythms as they move, and they often incorporate acrobatic skills. Today, this dance is usually performed in groups of men and women during festival celebrations.
Musician Wei Sun (孙薇) is a young guzheng artist from China and principal guzheng player with the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York (CMENY). She was born into a musical family and started her guzheng journey at the age of 6; and is now a certified senior teacher of guzheng, and member of the China National Instrumental Association and the International Guzheng Association. In 2016, Wei Sun came to the United States as a guzheng performer and teacher at the CBA Culture and Arts Center, an organization in New York City dedicated to the development of traditional Chinese arts in the spirit of exchange and dialogue with other cultures in the world. Since March 2022, Wei has performed guzheng in the musical Noble Family at the Cutting Room on Broadway. In October 2017, Wei Sun performed at Carnegie Hall featuring her trio band “StringsW” (erhu, guzheng, pipa) that she co-founded. The successful performance, titled ECHO, combined Chinese and Western instruments in arrangements of Chinese folk music, and interpretations of classics from the Chinese traditional musical literature.
About Kupferberg Center for the Arts
The Kupferberg Center for the Arts located in Queens College, Flushing, NY, is one of the largest and most prestigious performing arts centers in the United States. It is committed to enriching the lives of its diverse audience through world-class performances, innovative education programs, and community engagement. Kupferberg Center for the Arts celebrates and showcases the best of the performing arts from around the world, offering something for everyone to enjoy.
About Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company:
Choreographer/Dancer, Nai-Ni Chen (1959-2021), was a unique artist whose work crosses cultural boundaries. Each of her dances reflect her personal vision as an immigrant and an American female artist with deep roots in Asian culture. From this perspective, she created new works that reflect current issues with global influences. Many of her works were developed in collaboration with renowned artists such as the Ahn Trio, Glen Velez, Joan La Barbara, Rokafella, The Chinese Music Ensemble and the New Asia Chamber Music Society.
Bridging the grace of Asian elegance and American dynamism, the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company is a premier provider of innovative cultural experiences that reflect the inspiring hope and energy of the immigrant’s journey. The company’s ground-breaking works have focused on themes from ancient legends that reflect issues of the present time to purely abstract, contemporary dances influenced by a mix of cultures Nai-Ni Chen experienced in New York. An Asian American company that celebrates cross-cultural experience, the Company’s productions naturally bring forth issues of identity, authenticity, and equality.
The Company has presented at some of the most prestigious concert halls such as the Joyce Theater, Lincoln Center in New York, and the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center in Florida. The Company appears annually at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Queens College, the College of Staten Island and on Ellis Island. Internationally, the Company has presented at international festivals including Open Look Festival in Russia, the Silesian International Contemporary Dance Festival, the Konfrontations International Festival in Poland, the Chang Mu International Dance Festival in Korea, the Meet in Beijing International Arts Festival in China, and the Tamaulipas International Arts Festival in Mexico.
The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company has received more than 20 awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and numerous Citations of Excellence and grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Advancing Dance Education, the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company is currently in residence in New Jersey City University pioneering a program with the University’s A Harry Moore Laboratory School teaching dance to urban children with disabilities. For additional Company information, visit their website, www.nainichen.org; write to Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, P.O. Box 1121, Fort Lee, NJ 07024; or call (800) 650- 0246.
Programs of the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company are made possible by the generous support of our Board members, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, The Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation (MAAF), the New Jersey Cultural Trust, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, The New Jersey Arts and Culture Recovery Fund administered by the Princeton Area Community Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Hyde and Watson Foundation, E.J. Grassman Trust, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, New Music USA, the Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Dance/NYC Dance Advancement Fund, the Rapid Response Program of American Dance Abroad, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters’ Cultural Exchange Fund, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, PSEG, Proskauer, WAC Lighting, and the Glow Foundation and the Dragon and Phoenix Foundation.