New York, Fort Lee, NY/NJ - Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company a rare Asian American women led dance company has been mourning for the loss of its artistic leader, Nai-Ni Chen for the past week. Ms. Chen is an embodiment of immigrant Chinese American dance artists who came to America to contribute to the world of dance and has since created a company with deep roots in many aspects of community life. Her sudden passing also leaves a legacy of 30 years of work to create cross-cultural dances that empower the next generation of immigrant artists and honors diverse influences in mainstream American culture.
To ensure Ms. Chen’s legacy continues to flourish, grow, and inspire the generations to come, the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company Board of Directors and Executive Director Andrew Chiang announce the appointment of three new artistic leaders for the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company.
To ensure continuity of leadership, the Company elevates Associate Artistic Director Greta Campo to the position of Artistic Director. Greta has been working with Nai-Ni Chen since 2012 and has participated in most of the Company’s performances. An award winning dancer in her own right, Ms. Campo is loved and respected by all the dancers of the Company. Greta says: In 30 years of Nai-Ni’s legacy, I had the privilege to dance and work closely with her for the past 10 years. During this time, I discovered her unique way of communicating her voice to the world. Spending lots of hours every day in the dance studio, I’ve grown professionally with confidence, thanks to her distinctive gift to always bring the best out of her dancers, pushing them to do better, working hard in a quest for details and precision while dancing with both power and grace. An approach to dance that I will always follow and I am grateful to have witnessed. Even if she is not here with me physically, I do feel her strength next to me and this gives me the confidence to face the challenge of keeping the Company alive and keep up her teaching and hard work. I will do that humbly, with perseverance, strength and humility, as she taught me. I have always admired her warrior spirit as a dancer and as a person, and I will carry it with me every day.
To ensure Nai-Ni’s extensive efforts in preservation and education in the Chinese American community and her work in introducing the dances from her heritage to all the communities continue, the Company appoints Ms. Ying Shi as Choreographer/Director of Traditional Dance and Preservation. Ms. Shi danced with Nai-Ni Chen from 2013 to 2018 as a soloist and Chinese Dance specialist. She has since created one of the largest community dance studios in the NY/NJ Chinese American community with locations in Flushing and Livingston, NJ. She is highly respected among her peers and has followed Nai-Ni Chen every step of the way since she came to the United States. Shi Ying says: I joined Nai-Ni Dance Company when I arrived in New York, and focus on the Chinese dance program, each step is inherited from Teacher Nai-Ni. 2013-2018, I worked full-time with Teacher Nai-Ni, we spent a lot of time in rehearsals and teaching exchanges. We perform and teach together from elementary schools to colleges of New York and New Jersey, bringing the beauty Chinese dance to American audiences. 2019, I created my own two dance schools, Flushing and Livingston NJ, while still having some opportunities to perform with Nai-Ni and continue to communicate and learn from her. Teacher Nai-Ni is my mentor, who taught me how to be a good actress, a good teacher, a good cultural messenger in New York City. I am heartbroken to lose her and miss her forever!
Well known for her powerful, elegant and precision oriented new work that seamlessly integrates the beauty of Asian art with the dynamism of American modern dance, Nai-Ni Chen left a legacy of pioneering contemporary works as well as new projects yet to be completed. To ensure her creative path continues to shine, the Company appoints world renowned dancer/choreographer PeiJu Chien-Pott to the position of Choreographer/Director of Contemporary/Creative Dance. PeiJu and Nai-Ni are both immigrants from Taiwan, and they have worked together in many projects serving the Asian American community. “Nai-Ni has been a role model to me in a way that reminding myself who I am and where I came from. She has been an important bridge connecting East and West culture and creating a platform for the artists to raise their creative voices and challenging themselves to seek out how this cultural mixture of sociality sparks our creativity and vision. It is an honor to me to carry Nai-Ni’s legacy and to continually serve the Asian American community. Her vivid and generous image will forever stay with us.”
The Board and Executive Director Andrew Chiang also wish to express sincere gratitude towards the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company dancers, who have unanimously committed to work together to ensure the Company’s work continues to bring joy and hope to the community.
Please join us to congratulate the team and support them on this new journey to help the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company to achieve its mission.
About the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company
“Chen's phrases, part exoskeletal rigidity, part boneless grace, embodied an epic dignity.” - Village Voice
Choreographer/Dancer, Nai-Ni Chen, is 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 the Asian culture. From this very personal perspective, she creates new works that reflect current issues with global influences. Many of her works have been developed in collaboration with renowned artists such as the Ahn Trio, Glen Velez, Joan La Barbara, Myung Hee Cho, Karen Young, Bei Dao among others.
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.