From philly.com Entertainment Section
When Nai-Ni Chen immigrated to America in 1982 to study dance at New York University, she was already an accomplished traditional dancer in Taiwan. She had studied with some of the best teachers and toured professionally.
But Chen wanted to pursue what felt more authentic to her as an immigrant: modern dance, influenced by her traditional Chinese dance background.
After she graduated, Chen stopped auditioning for other choreographers and formed her own troupe, Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, which performs choreography inspired by the intersection of Western and Eastern ideas and philosophies.
Chen’s company is performing A Quest for Freedom at the Prince Theater this weekend, accompanied on stage by the accomplished Ahn Trio.
Made up of 10 segments, the performance explores the idea of freedom and how it is shaped by issues like gender and immigration, according to Chen. Although it is largely a Western modern dance performance, Chen said she has incorporated Eastern influences into her choreography in subtle ways.
“In Eastern philosophy, there is a heavy focus on details,” she said. “So when I deal with movement, my eyes catch a lot of details. It’s not always about the big movements, like with arms and legs. I also focus on the smaller movements, like my dancers’ hands.”
Chen began collecting ideas that would eventually turn into A Quest for Freedom years ago from her own life as well as from her friends’ stories.
She also listened to the Ahn Trio’s entire repertoire and worked closely with Juilliard-trained sisters Maria, Lucia, and Angella Ahh, who in 2003 were named three of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People.” She described them as immensely talented artists with strong voices.
“That’s why I put them on the stage during the performance,” Chen said. “A lot of choreographers prefer to have the musicians below or behind the stage, but I didn’t want to hide their personalities. The way that they share energy with the dancers is magical.”
Dance all night long
Choreographing a dance influenced by personal experiences felt like a 24-hour job, Chen said. She thought about it constantly, inside and outside the dance studio.
“It takes a lot of courage to build a new home in a foreign land,” Chen said. “In a way, what I’m going through feels like a journey that never ends. My job is to express that to an audience through a universal approach that crosses cultural boundaries, no matter which country you’re from or what ethnic background you have.”
Audience members should expect a vibrant and colorful performance that explores freedom in an abstract way, Chen said. She prefers experimenting with how she can draw certain emotions out of the audience rather than communicating a story in a linear way, which is more common in traditional forms of dance.
One of the featured segments captures the loneliness of being an immigrant in a big city despite being surrounded by people. Another focuses on how women speak out against male domination.
Chen said she doesn’t want audiences “to just walk out of the theater and go home and go to sleep. I want to leave something for them to think about.”
Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company with the Ahn Trio
Performances 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Prince Theater, 1412 Chestnut St. Tickets: $42 to $62 (students $20). Information: 267-239-2941 or princetheater.org
Nai-Ni Chen and The Ahn Trio: A Quest for Freedom
New Jersey’s own Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company joins forces with the world-renown Ahn Trio, three Korean-American sisters know for their unique spin on the piano trio, in a program set to music of David Bowie, Prince, Path Metheny, and more.
A Quest for Freedom is a collaboration in which music and dance are integrated in a poetic, magical way. The dance is inspired by choreographer Nai-Ni Chen’s own story, of coming from Taiwan to New York to create a company that merges Easter and Western influences.
Seven exquisite dancer from the Chen’s company will perform to live music on stage by the Ahn Trio—including works by contemporary composers like Kenji Bunch, Pat Metheny, David Balakrishnan and Ron Yedida. The centerpiece of the evening will be two pop music classics, recently developed by the Ahn Trio: Prince’s Purple Rain and David Bowie’s Space Oddity.
Saturday, March 24 at 7:30 PM
New Jersey Performing Arts Center
1 Center Street
Newark, New Jersey
Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company with the Ahn Trio
A blossom of color, energy and motion, like endlessly proliferating forces of cosmic energy.
– New York Times.
Nai-Ni Chen blends the freedom of the America spirit with the grace and splendor of the Asian aesthetic. The company makes its NextMove Dance debut with the Philadelphia premiere of A Quest for Freedom, the true story of Nai-Ni Chen (artistic director/choreographer) emigrating from Taiwan to New York. This full-length work traces Chen’s journey. It is set to live music by The Ahn Trio – Juilliard alumni, Korean-born sisters – featuring Angella (violin), Maria (cello), and Lucia (piano). The Ahn Trio is known for its previous collaborations with dance companies including Parsons Dance.
Attend a Post-Performance Chat after every Friday 8PM and Saturday 2PM show. Meet the company, ask questions, and get the scoop on the what’s and the why’s of the creative process.
April 19-22, 2018
Prince Theater | Main Stage
1412 Chestnut Street
ASTORIA, NY (December 5, 2017)
Steinway & Sons is proud to announce the addition of Tania León to the roster of Steinway Artists, a select and prestigious group of pianists who have chosen to perform exclusively on Steinway pianos. León is now in the company of immortal legends Sergei Rachmaninoff, Benjamin Britten, Igor Stravinsky, and Nina Simone and contemporary icons Thomas Adès, John Corigliano, and Ahmad Jamal, among others.
Havana-born, Grammy-nominated Tania León is world-renowned as a composer and conductor and recognized for her accomplishments as an educator and advisor to arts organizations. Her commissions include works for the National Endowment for the Arts, The Library of Congress, The Los Angeles Master Chorale, and The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, among others. Her works have been performed by orchestras around the world, and she has collaborated with such authors and directors as John Ashbury, Margaret Atwood, Rita Dove, Jamaica Kincaid, Mark Lamos, Julie Taymor, and Derek Walcott.
León has lectured at Harvard University and at the prestigious Mosse Lecture series at the University of Humboldt in Berlin. León was also Visiting Professor at Yale University and Guest Composer/Conductor at the Hamburg Musikschule, Germany and the Beijing Central Conservatory, China.
León is both a founding member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem and the founder of the Composers Now festival in New York City. Her work with Composers Now was honored by a proclamation by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio naming February 1st as “Composers Now Festival Day.” The proclamation recognizes Composers Now as an ally in empowering living composers from many different global traditions and heritages.
A professor at Brooklyn College since 1985 and at the Graduate Center of CUNY, León was named Distinguished Professor of the City University of New York in 2006. In 2010 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her honors include the New York Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, and Guggenheim Fellowships. In 2012 she received both a Grammy nomination (for “Best Contemporary Classical Composition”) and a Latin Grammy nomination (for “Best Classical Contemporary Composition”) and in 2013 she was the recipient of the prestigious 2013 ASCAP Victor Herbert Award.
“Tania León is one of the most renowned and sought-after composers and conductors of our time,” said Ron Losby, Chief Executive Officer of Steinway Musical Instruments. “She is a visionary artist and a tireless advocate for music, dance, artistry, and education. We are thrilled to have her join the roster of Steinway Artists. Her energy and passion are unsurpassed, and her artistry is the absolute gold standard. Her values are very much aligned with those of Steinway & Sons; this is a partnership of which we are very proud.”
“Steinway inspires me as a player, and as a composer,” León said.
About Steinway & Sons
Since 1853, Steinway pianos have set an uncompromising standard for sound, touch, beauty, and investment value. Because of a dedication to continuous improvement, today’s Steinway remains the choice of 9 out of 10 concert artists, and it is the preferred piano of countless musicians, professional and amateur, throughout the world.
New collaborations from Ahn Trio & Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company,
and Chris Brubeck’s Triple Play & Elisa Monte Dance Company
Join your Mid-Atlantic colleagues in a Monte-Brubeck Art Connect grant proposal for your 2017-2018 season. You will get a great show, interesting outreach, and maybe a bit of money to help your budget.
For information and links email Joanne Rile and/or call (215) 885-6400
Nai-Chen Dance Company & The Ahn Trio: A Quest For Freedom
A Quest for Freedom is a collaboration between the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company and the music of Ahn Trio in live performance. Music and Dance are integrated on stage in a poetic and magical way throughout the program. The world-renowned Ahn Trio play music by contemporary composers such as Kenji Bunch, Pat Metheny, David Balakrishnan, Ron Yedidia, Prince and David Bowie, with dancing by seven exquisite dancers in the choreography of Nai-Ni Chen.
Elisa Monte Dance Company & Chris Brubeck’s Triple Play: Monte Dances With Brubeck
Elisa Monte Dance Company joins Chris Brubeck’s band, “Triple Play” for a jazz-inspired collaboration set to the music of Dave and Chris Brubeck. It’s a high energy, fun-filled, joyous fusion of music and dance featuring Brubeck standards such as “Blue Rondo” and “Memphis Hesitation” plus Triple Play opens with “New Stew, Opus 2”. Put this on your dance card, you’ll be happy you did!
In January 2017, Elisa Monte Dance Company under its new, talented artistic director, Tiffany Rea-Fisher, and Chris Brubeck, of the famed jazz family, collaborated on a new project. They presented a spectacular showcase at the APAP Conference. When the music and dance ended, the ensembles were greeted with an immediate standing ovation. Monte’s remarkable dancers moved to the Brubeck tunes with a new kind of jazzy and joyful step as Chris and his band, Triple Pl ay grooved wowing the dance audience with each song. We are looking for presenters who want to present a dance program that will wow your audience and make the event worthy of a Mid-Atlantic grant. No time to waste, call Joanne Rile at 215-885-6400.
“Ferocious energy…superb dancers…a performing tour de force.”
—New York Times
“Triple Play was rollicking good fun … led by bassist, trombonist, and pianist Chris Brubeck, the trio stole the show with its flair and virtuosity.”
—Mark Swed, L.A.Times
Congratulations to Caeli Smith who received her master’s degree from Juilliard today and was awarded a special prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music.
We are so proud of you Caeli!
Mattiwilda Dobbs, a coloratura soprano who was the third African-American to appear as a principal singer with the Metropolitan Opera, died on Tuesday at her home in Atlanta. She was 90.
We were privileged to know Mattiwilda as a warm and gracious human being. She was an artist of remarkable vocal intelligence and beauty. The heavenly choir of angels will welcome her with joy as she joins them in singing some of her favorite Bach and her incomparable version of the Negro Spiritual, Let Us Break Bread Together On Our Knees.
Rest in Peace, Mattiwilda.
This photo of
The PRISM Quartet’s recording, “Heritage/Evolutions, Volume 1” (innova), is under consideration for 2016 Grammy Award nominations in three categories.
Field 10: Jazz
Category 33, Best Jazz Instrumental Album
Entry #249: Heritage/Evolution, Volume 1 (innova)
Field 21: Composing/Arranging
Category 61, Best Instrumental Composition
Entry #164: I Will Not Apologize For My Tone Tonight by Rudresh Mahanthappa
(PRISM Quartet: Heritage/Evolution, Volume 1 – innova)
Field 27: Production, Classical
Category 72, Best Engineered Album, Classical
Entry #134: Aaron Nevezie, Karl Petersen, Matthew Levy, Katsuhiko Naito, Engineers
(PRISM Quartet: Heritage/Evolution, Volume 1 – innova)
The album features new pieces and guest appearances by today’s most inventive jazz saxophonists: Steve Lehman, Dave Liebman, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Greg Osby, Tim Ries, and Miguel Zenón. “Heritage/Evolution, Volume 1” charts fresh musical territory, drawing on the saxophone’s cross-cultural heritage to blend jazz with everything from Western and South Indian classical music to Romani and Latin American folkloric music.
NARAS friends, we respectfully invite you to check out “Heritage/Evolution, Vol. 1” as you consider the Grammy nomination entry list.
Acknowledgement: Major support for “Heritage/Evolution, Volume 1” has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Additional support came from The National Endowment for the Arts, The Presser Foundation, and The Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia.
Violist Caeli Veronica Smith
October 26th, 2015
Alice Tully Hall
Penderecki Viola Concerto
Case Scaglione, Conductor
A new collaboration project Ahn Trio created combines Ahn Trio’s newest program, “Ahn-core Ahn Trio” recital program with a dramatic, beautiful, visually breath-taking lighting created by a lighting designer, Carrie Wood based in NYC.
The idea is to turn each instrumentalist & instrument into a character in a play or a film. Imagine if a concert was a play and with the help of lights, each member of Ahn Trio becomes an actor telling a greater story with their instruments. Every time Ahn Trio saw an opera or a Broadway show or a play, Ahns has always wanted to take that just the nice moody stage lighting to another level for their own concert stages. Drama of the lights add so much to the dramatic aria you’re hearing at the opera, can you imagine hearing it without the perfect light that is capturing the exact mood of the tenor’s character? You can, but, the visual and the aural together enhance each other to create a much more complete, satisfying way of listening to music.
The main works chosen for this collaboration are:
A 6 movement piece describing NYC between dusk & dawn, “Swing Shift” by Kenji Bunch, written for Ahn Trio. This work is brought back on Ahn’s “Ahn-core” program by popular demand. It was recorded on their EMI album, “Grooveboxes”.
And, Rock Suite, consisting of four songs of rock covers transcribed for Piano Trio; Riders on the Storm (Doors), Space Oddity (Bowie), Purple Rain (Prince), & Ziggy Stardust (Bowie) is a truly rock’n collection of Ahn’s favorite rock songs that showcase Piano Trio’s ability as a very complete live band even without vocals nor drums.
Ms. Wood has also worked on a number of Broadway shows including West Side Story, The Three Penny Opera, Cry Baby, and Wicked and Merce Cunningham as well as many artists such as Karen Sherman, Melanie Maar, Luciana Achugar, Reggie Wilson, Walter Dundervill, Sarah Michelson, Daria Fain, Michael Lluberes.
**Book LIGHTS AHN! Available enroute for the 2014/2015 Season.
Real Vocal String Quartet
Plus, learn the best marketing ideas from successful presenters.
Join Us For The Showcase!
Sunday, January 12th
From 9:30 AM to 1 PM
Be Sure to Stay for the Grand Finale!!!
Norman S. Benzaquen Hall located at the DiMenna Center in the Baryshnikov Arts Center.
Round trip Van Shuttle will be available from the NY Hilton.
Call or email for reservations!
Or visit us at Booth 419 Hall I
*Concert Artists Guild