Some spent the last year in sweatpants and watching TV to escape the tough reality of the pandemic. But some artists used the pain and isolation to create intense and beautiful bodies of work.
The CrossCurrent Contemporary Dance Virtual Festival at Flushing Town Hall celebrates six Asian-American choreographers, each of whom has a unique and vibrant story to tell through movement. The various pieces relay different messages and evoke different emotions, but a theme they all have in common is responding to the pandemic.
“What’s most exciting about this program is that the artists are really talented and are responding to what’s going on in the world and in their lives. It’s a very, very great experience,”said Ya Yun Teng, the Chinese projects director for FTH. “Through the artists’ stories, there’s a lot of, ‘OK, I learned about something new’ ... It’s easy to resonate with the stories.”
The June 11 festival, now in its seventh season, is produced by Nai-Ni Chen, a renowned choreographer and leader of one of the most successful Asian-American touring dance companies.
Each of the six choreographers has roots in different Asian heritages, evident through their dances, but the festival celebrates the diversity of being an Asian American, as well as the experience of being one.
Some performances, such as “Wanderer,” by Peter Cheng, and “Tigress,” by Julia Foti, question identity and dissonance between Asian and American cultures. Furthermore, “Unnoticed,” by Fiona Tsang, explores the lack of representation of Asian Americans in American history. The topic is timely as violence against Asian Americans rises throughout the country, especially in the wake of Asian American Pacific Islander Month, but will not be the reigning theme throughout the evening.
“We think it’s a topic that’s very important to be presented, but it’s not the only experience of Asian Americans,” Teng said.
“V/Nish,” by Maya Lam, tells the story of the relationship between ephemerality and permanence in a world that values the physical and tangible over experience and feelings. After a stressful year, the performance offers a fleeting moment when audience members can forget the outside world and enjoy the show.
Similarly, “Lost in Translation,” by Chieh Hsiung, builds off the post-pandemic world and how individuals attempt to create relationships again, but continue to enjoy their loneliness. The overall message is that, “We are in this together, we will be alright.”
Finally, “Incomplete Journey,” by Seyong Kim, is a duet set to the music of Violin Concerto II by Philip Glass. Both were composed with the intention of allowing the observer to make his or her own interpretation.
The contemporary dance festival will be followed by an artist discussion with Chen and several distinguished Asian-American dance artists: Peiju Chien-Pott, Miki Orihara and Maura Nguyen Donohue.
The free festival will be streamed live on Flushing Town Hall’s YouTube page, though audience members can RSVP to receive the stream link and reminder.
For more information on the CrossCurren Contemporary Dance Virtual Festival, visit flushingtownhall.org/2021-crosscurrent.