Asian American Dance Theatre

THIS PAGE MODIFICATION IN PROGRESS

The Asian American Dance Theatre (AADT) began as the Asian American Dance Workshop, a program of the Basement Workshop in New York’s Chinatown. As founders of the Basement Workshop, Eleanor Yung and brother Danny Yung began a separate organization in 1974, the AADT, to create and promote Asian American dance. AADT was active from 1974-1990 with multiple types of programming including performances, presentations, and education. In 1987, with an increase in significant visual arts programming, the AADT changed its legal name to the Asian American Arts Centre (AAAC), encompassing dance, visual arts, and folk arts programming in performances, exhibitions, research and education.

AADT was notable for its two distinct repertoires: a traditional repertoire and a contemporary repertoire. The traditional repertoire celebrated and addressed the cultural roots of Asians in America, featuring diverse folk and classical dances of many countries of Asia, touring extensively across the country.

The contemporary repertoire consisted of works by Artistic Director Eleanor Yung presented in its Annual New York Season, which also featured invited guest Asian American choreographers.

The D’Asia Vu Performance Series 1986-90 was the accumulated result of the Dance Discussions held by AADT dancers to voice their concerns related to the field of dance in the U.S. The D’Asia Vu Series presented Asian and non-Asian artists in Asian or fusion dance, theater, and music performances.

The Arts-in-Education program expanded from local presentations in community schools, libraries and community centers, to lecture-performances, Pointed Brush Workshops, and the Intensive Indian and Chinese Dance Workshops offered citywide.

AADT Community School offerings began with dance for children, extended to adult classes in dance and exercise, and, expanded to visual arts for children, and Chinese painting and seal carvings for adults.

TRADITIONAL DANCE AND TOURING

Beautiful and gifted performers from Asia would visit or immigrate to the U.S. in the 70s and 80s, and landed in New York City, the cultural hub. Whether AADT sought them out, or they found AADT, they became an invaluable part of the AADT dancing family. These were dancers from China, Japan, Korea, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Polynesia. They brought with them and expressed their cultural heritage. They not only enriched the American dance scene, but also the lives of their audiences illuminating the richness of our multicultural country. They offered to their local audiences a global experience.

In their performances, the dancers expressed their cultural languages in beauty and aesthetics, spirituality and the sublime, simplicity and complexity, and most importantly the universal art of dance.

In full costumes on stage, they not only enriched people's sense of their own heritage, they also opened up the understanding of movement and choreographic aesthetics for Americans and artists in general.

AADT traveled nationally to colleges and universities and to arts festivals throughout the 80s. In the early years, the company performed both traditional as well as contemporary dance. An ensemble of 8-12 dancers included soloists performing a repertoire of selected dances of Asia, as well as contemporary choreographies.

When the cost became too difficult to manage, the touring company became primarily only traditional. They performed both indoors and outdoors, as well as on a smaller scale in lecture-performances enthralling all audiences. They brought their deeply rooted art forms to an American audience that had rarely seen traditional Asian dances. They were the ambassadors of that segment of American culture and dance.

“In its contemporary repertory, the company draws upon traditional Asian dance and American modern dance for its aesthetic; both forms are the richer for it.” - Josie Neal, Dance critic, The San Antonio Light,5/20/84

The AADT touring company traveled to Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, North Carolina, Louisiana, New Mexico and upstate New York. Some notable locations included the Sister Fire Festival in Washington, DC, the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, and a 9-campus tour for the Penn State University system.

The dancers (not complete list) included, Suarti and Suarni (Balinese), Endang, Deena Burton and Carla Scheele (Javanese), Tomie Hahn and Sachiyo Ito (Japanese), Shakti, Arundhati Chattopadhyaya and Swati Bhise (Indian Bharata Natyam), Kuang Yu Fong (Chinese Peking Opera and Kunqu), Chen Guo and Mao Zie Ming (Chinese), Young Lan Lee and Nayon Yun (Korean), Najma Ayasha and Janaki Patrik, (Indian Kathak), Marlene Pitkow (Indian Kathakali), Nancy Latuja, Kathy Serio and Ray Tadio (The Philippines).

Some invited guests included Polynesian dance by the Kanikapila Dance Company.

D’ASIA VU

One of AADT’s goals was to nurture upcoming choreographers and dancers, and “to create ‘Asian American’ dance,” particularly at a time when ethnic and minority arts had scant exposure and found little support. At its home in New York Chinatown, AADT initiated Dance Discussions to explore and voice our concerns as dancers trying to survive in NYC while still maintaining an art close to our hearts. Two related major issues were the lack of performance venues and the lack of performance opportunities. The outcome was the launching of the D’Asia Vu series. The idea for this unique series was to expand the scope of art forms presented while providing opportunities for performing artists to reach new audiences in an intimate setting. It was a showcase of Asian and Asian influenced performances in puppetry, theater, music, dance, and performance art. The pieces were often experimental and some focused on synthesis of elements from different performing traditions. AADT opened its studio for D’Asia Vu from 1986-1990 presenting approximately 20 productions.

Many performers at D’Asia Vu including AADT management/resident choreographers, for example, Marie Alonzo, Ananya Chatterjea, Kuang Yu Fong, Tomie Hahn, and Marlene Pitkow, all of whom helped shape Asian American dance, some even to the present.

Some notable performances included the East West Fusion Theater founded by Teviot Fairservis Pourchot; Kuang Yu Fong’s “A Day at the Office” created through a commissioned grant from NYSCA; Tomie Hahn’s “Leaf,” with original music by Curtis Bahn; Gary Gewant’s Leela Puppets; music scholar Bell Yung’s performance on the traditional zither instrument, the Guqin; Margaret Wolfson and Paula Bing of World Story and Music; The Odyssey Theater Company, traditional music by New York Music from China; Hai Yuen Chorus from Chinese Musical Arts, Yung Yung Tsuai dancing both folk and contemporary Chinese dance; Rumiko Tsuda’s performing arts piece; Comyn Mo and Pia Ho of Zuni Icosahedron; Skip LaPlante and Deena Burton; Jason Hwang and Genevieve Lam; Sun Ock Lee; Charlie Chin; Gerri Yoshida; Claire Iwatsu, Barbara Chang and Kwok Man Ho the Frog King.

SPECIAL PERFORMANCES

After the Tiananmen Square Massacre, AADT initiated and presented a 12-hour performance marathon at the Triplex Theater in the Borough of Manhattan Community College in protest of the student massacre on June4, 1989 in China. The Memorial performance featured Zuni Icosahedron of Hong Kong, a company of 12 who flew to NYC to perform “China is a Big Garden” choreographed and directed by Danny Yung. Many local artists participated to register their protest over the massacre. Some of the performers included Hikari Baba, Fred Houn, and the Susan Marshall Company.

A new performance was also held the following year, outdoors in Chinatown, commemorating this event, with choreography by company manager/choreographer Marie Alonzo.

ARTS IN EDUCATION

Beginning in the mid 1970s, with a grant from then Lincoln Savings Bank, AADT did performances of Asian dance in the eight neighborhood public schools, five elementary, one junior high and two high schools, reaching the entire student body of young residents of Chinatown. The children saw authentic traditional Asian dance and one contemporary work. AADT offered the students a unique opportunity to experience Chinese performing arts culture, as we were the one and only company that presented such a diverse Asian repertory at the time.

For many years, we were engaged through the organization Young Audiences to give lecture performances throughout the five boroughs of NYC.

In 1978 AADT began an Arts-in-Education program through the NYC Department of Education’s Arts and Cultural Education Network program, presenting lecture performances on traditional Asian dance in public schools throughout NYC. In addition to lecture-performances featuring dancers representing two cultures in assembly programs for the entire school, we also taught weeklong intensive Indian or Chinese dance workshops for selected classes, accompanied by an extensive Teachers Guide to help classroom teachers expand upon the workshops’ content.

“We tried to present Asian dancers in schools a lot. I felt that children in schools had no exposure to the art forms of these cultures. The dancers were like ambassadors for their culture. Even people in Asian communities living here didn’t get to see and experience these dances.”
Eleanor Yung, Excerpted from ChineseWomen Traversing Diaspora: Memoirs, Essays, and Poetry (pp. 165-187) Sharon K. Hom (Ed.) 1983.

As part of the New York City Board of Education’s programs, AADT brought Asian culture and heritage through the performing arts to 60,000 public school children in 80 engagements each year. During those years, NYC was becoming more diverse with many children from Asian immigrant families attending the city schools.

The Pointed Brush workshops, the visual arts component of the Arts-in-Education explored the creative use of the Asian brush, took place side by side with the lecture-performances. AADT saw these cross-cultural programs as a crucial tool for children to help prepare them to live in a culturally diverse society.

COMMUNITY SCHOOL

Since its inception in 1974, AADT offered ballet classes for children in the Chatham Square Public Library. In 1976 AADT moved to its own space at 26 Bowery and expanded to offering creative dance and children’s art classes. It also offered adult classes in Chinese painting, calligraphy, seal carving, as well as Chinese dance, Jazz, Alexander technique, Jazzercise, Tai chi, and, by popular demand, even ballroom dancing.

Every year, the school activities would culminate in a school recital in a neighborhood public school auditorium for parents and the community at large. They were community events.

ANNUAL NEW YORK SEASON
“She [Yung] has made dances that, while they literally refer to nothing outside themselves, nevertheless possess the emotions of the original experiences that inspired them. They are fascinating dances. And its awareness of cultural crosscurrents makes the Asian American Dance Theater a fascinating company.”
- Jack Anderson, The New York Times, 4/25/78. Reviewing “Identification in Progress” and “Madhouse”.

AADT’s annual performance season in NYC from 1976-1990 presented works by Eleanor Yung and guest choreographers. These invited guests shared the program and shared their art in the creation of Asian American dance. Some of them were Danny Yung, Sincha Hong, Sharon Hom, Saeko Ichinohe, Audrey Jung, Junko Kikuchi, Satoru Shimazaki, Sachiko Takahashi, and Yung Yung Tsuai.

Performances were presented at venues including the Clark Center, the Riverside Dance Festival, Dance Theater Workshop, Open Eye Theater, the theater at Marymount Manhattan College, Schimmel Center at Pace University, and Synod House at the Church of St. John the Divine.

Dancers performing during the AADT season over the years included Marie Alonzo, Annie Bien, Lauren Dong, Tomie Hahn, Mei Hsieh, Junko Kikuchi, Young Soon Kim, Wendy Lai, Julio Leitao, Yen Leung, Lynn Macri, George Mars, Haruka Namiji, Pam Noschese, Nancee Sasaki, Ray Tadio, Nayo Takasaki, Rumiko Oka, Michiyo Tanaka, Josephine Teng, Boon Teo, HelenTran, Muna Tseng, Yung Yung Tsuai, Sanghi Wagner, and Tamir Yardenne.

The company also performed as part of larger programs at the Riverside Dance Festival, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lincoln Center, New York University, Statue of Liberty, Carver Community Cultural Centre in Texas, Mid-Fest in Ohio, Urban-Fest in North Carolina, and numerous other locales across the country.

The following section is contributed by Gabriella Oldham. Excerpts appeared in the Asian American History and Culture: an Encyclopedia, 2015, Editor Huping Ling.
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

As founder and artistic director of AADT, Eleanor Yung choreographed many original works for the company. Born in Shanghai after World War II and growing up in Hong Kong, Yung continued her education during the 1960s at the University of California in Berkeley (sociology) and Teachers College, Columbia University in New York (dance education). The struggles of Chinese immigrants who strove to better their lives while coping with an unfamiliar culture inspired many of her dance pieces. Yung herself encountered Americans’ misplaced curiosity that she could speak English so well, and their assumption that her repertoire would only include traditional Chinese ribbon dances. She noted that, ironically, some of these misconceptions came from Asians themselves.

In her essay “Moving into Stillness,” Yung commented that AADT continually evolved to reflect its environment. It challenged mainstream America’s views not only of Asian dance, but also of Asians themselves. Yung avoided choreography that mimicked traditional Asian movements, such as t’ai chi chuan [Taichi, or tai chi] which “merely copied its superficial aspects, but failed to penetrate into its spirit” (Bridge: An Asian American Perspective, May 1975). Nevertheless, despite her efforts to amalgamate the two dance cultures, Yung was also criticized for presenting traditional Asian dance forms in a company labeled Asian American; some audience members even protested by walking out of a performance. Her critics believed that Asian dance could not be Asian American although, as Yung acknowledged, it was created in the U.S., performed by its citizens, and displayed in American communities.

To achieve this cross-cultural perspective, her choreography tried to “blend the East-West traditions harmoniously, and not just mechanically.” Yung’s own experiences were like “stepping constantly between two conflicting worlds.” Still, this mix of styles and modes of expression challenged Yung to find a balance that validated through dance the experience of being Asian in America.

One of the first works was a collaborative piece with Danny Yung. The piece entitled Identification in Progress #1,2,3, (1976) was “…structural. Creating definitive positive and negative space was significant in the choreographic process…” Another work equally significant was “Water Portrait”(1975) a narrative style piece. Combining these two approaches helped define Eleanor’s choreographic approach.

Passage (1979) translated the movement, emotions, and transformative nature of immigration into a vocabulary of ballet and Chinese dance structured by modern dance. Yung had hoped to use “egg masks,” white face coverings without eye or nose openings, but they were too intrusive for the six dancers, who needed to focus on intricate directional movements across the stage. “The dancers were in colorful, elaborate, traditional-like robes, made from sheer, shiny fabric, and patched to look like the paper dolls used for burning inrituals for the dead. As the piece developed, layers of this costume were shed until finally the dancers were in neutral solid colors of beige, pale blue and gray cotton shirts and pants.” The New York Times called Passage “a hypnotic minimalist ritual set to Korean shamanistic music” that succeeded in depicting the fusion of modern and traditional dance. “The dance builds from simple diagonal stage crosses to a rich but highly formal interweaving by accretion of gesture and increasingly charged dynamics, with slightly asymmetrical stage patterns” (10/27/79). Another reviewer commented that the choreography “penetrates profundities that leave one aghast at a people who have been grappling with the meaning of life probably longer than anyone else” (Otherstages, 4/21/83). “Eleanor S. Yung’s extraordinary ‘Passages”… came closest to that fusion (of modern and traditional dance styles) … one was drawn, mesmerized, into the unfurling of its design.” Jennifer Dunning, The New York Times,10/27/79

The “ordeals of immigration” reappeared in Madhouse (1978), performed without musical accompaniment, or what The New Haven Register called an “ominous silence.” Gray and black-clad dancers moved expressionlessly in “invented forms… circular, linear, interweaving” (4/15/79). Based on a poem by Dan Tashima called “Madhouse,” Yung elaborated on the theme of oppression, using a unique “braiding” pattern as her major movement structure. The dancers personified definitions of space and existence, aimlessness, aggression and passivity, oppressor and oppressed. The overall effect was fluid communication of “highly intensified emotions” that created“ wind tunnels across the room.” The New York Times noted how Yung “abstracted in the dictionary sense of taking away or removing qualities. From emotions associated with specific experiences she has made dances that, while they literally refer to nothing outside themselves, nevertheless possess the emotions of the original experiences that inspired them” (4/25/78).

Kampuchea (1981) was Yung’s “response to the destruction of one culture by another, and its reemergence from within the aggressor, ”particularly the atrocities in Cambodia. Meant to have three sections, only two were performed initially because the third section needed some “resolution” to the horror, which Yung could not imagine. Eventually, however, “the third section came to me as if from nowhere, with no shape nor form…. It was Shiva, birth and destruction at once… vibrant, sensuous, powerful, and deadly…. dancers signifying aggression identify themselves,…exist like the rest of the world, and, ultimately, reflect images of the totality.” Although Kampuchea was one of her favorite pieces, Yung felt it never achieved the fullness required to impart its complex theme.

Because the Chinese “ribbon” dance was probably the only knowledge of Asian dance many Americans had, Yung developed solo pieces based on, yet deviating from it. Ribbon Dance (1976) used black and white double ribbons instead of the usual red. Yung stressed the sensation of “stillness” in this piece to enunciate her own presence. “The piece opened with me standing squarely facing and slowly approaching the audience, which was not proper in traditional Chinese dance…. My presence emphasized the presence of the totality of me, history, culture, lineage, heritage, and my people.”

AADT introduced many other important works choreographed by Yung, performed nationally, funded by fellowships and grants, and reviewed by major media. Crystal Rainbow (1980) (which Yung choreographed while pregnant with her daughter Onie) was performed with many Chinese props such as fans, a farmer’s hat, and sparkling silk handkerchiefs; the piece “hinted at layers of memory, perhaps, of an Asian emigrant” (The New York Times, 4/11/83).Origami (1982-1983) was transmuted from images of paper cranes into a graceful dance that used circular floor patterns to create a multitude of spirals; this piece could be performed as a three-minute solo, a six-minute duet, a nine-minute trio, or a fifteen-minute dance for five. In Silk Route (1984), performed to Kitaro’s music (and debuting four-year-old Onie), with a commissioned work from visual artist, Zhang Hongtu, commemorated the 200-year trade anniversary between China and the U.S.; many movements were drawn from Buddhist motifs found in cave carvings.

Yung’s contemporary choreography can be viewed on video at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.

Concurrent to her work with AADT, Eleanor Yung collaborated with notable choreographers Saeko Ichinohe, Sun Ock Lee, and Reynaldo Alejandro in the Asian New Dance Coalition for three performance seasons 1979-1980. The choreographers reflected traditions of dance in China, Japan, Korea and the Philippines, respectively. The concerts were presented at Riverside Church and at Marymount Manhattan Theater.

“Eleanor S. Yung’s choreography in Silk Road masterfully fused the idioms of Western and Asian dance…. The dance evolved in what became an increasingly stratospheric space – the space of memory, where history can appear in a thousand fleeting images. At the center of the piece, two dancers performed a stunning sequence of tableaux quickly sketching moments of desire and conflict.”
- John Phillip Santos, Arts writer, San Antonio Express 5/21/84


References
Anderson, Jack. “Dances with Pacific Origin.” The New York Times, April 25,1978.
Desmond, Jane. “Asian American Dance Theatre, at Cornell University.”BRIDGE: An Asian American Perspective, Summer 1978.
Dunning, Jennifer. “Dance: Asians Fuse Two Styles.” The New York Times, October 27, 1979.
Dunning, Jennifer. “Dance: The Asian American.” The New York Times, April 11,1983.
Dunning, Jennifer. “The Dance: ‘Silk Road,’ By Miss Yung.” The New York Times,April 8, 1984.
Ebert, Carl. “Asian American Dance Theatre of N.Y.” BRIDGE: An Asian American Perspective, May 1975.
Moore, Bill. “An Asian Balm.” Otherstages, April 21, 1983.
Stodelle, Ernestine. “Asian New Dancers Interweave Identities.” The New Haven Register, April 15, 1979.
Yung, Eleanor. “Madhouse.” BRIDGE: An Asian American Perspective, Summer 1978.
Yung, Eleanor. “Moving into Stillness.” In Sharon K. Hom (Ed.), Chinese Women Traversing Diaspora: Memoirs, Essays, and Poetry (pp. 165-187). New York:Garland Publishing, 1983.



STATEMENT BY ELEANOR YUNG (revised in 2021)

I founded the Asian American Dance Theatre (AADT) together with my elder brother Danny in 1974. There were very few, if any, Asian American public dance performances in New York City at that time. For that matter, there were hardly any traditional Asian dancers actively practicing their art. There was a general misconception and exoticization of traditional Asian dance in the eyes of the public, and very little opportunity for Asian American choreographers to create or showcase their works.

Dance classes began in the New York Public Library in New York Chinatown, with my friend Fa Ching Chu from Teachers College, teaching community children how to move freely and creatively. A small group of dancers, Lauren Dong, Nancee Sasaki, George Mars, Wendy Lai, to name afew gathered and we began rehearsals. We rehearsed at Elina Mooney’s beautiful studio Tears Corporation on Broome Street, and produced performances with guest choreographers, three of whom in those early years, were Sin Cha Hong, Sharon Hom, and Teddy Yoshikami. Traditional Asian dances were first showcased at the Chinatown public library. Amongst the performers was a percussionist from the Mongolian community in New Jersey.

My work “Madhouse” was accepted by Louise Roberts to be included in the Clark Center showcase, and, together with Danny my brother’s piece “Asian American Movement in Pieces” was performed at the Graduate Center on 42nd Street. The performance did not receive a positive review from one critic, who complained about the subject matter. That did not dampen my purpose and we began our New York Season every year inviting a different guest choreographer to join in, at theaters around the city including Riverside, Marymount, Schimmel, Open Eye, DTW, etc. I received coverage and reviews from The New York Times, Post, Daily News, Dance Magazine, Bridge Magazine, and many others.

“American modern and Chinese dance blend in many of her works into theatre that has the urgency of the first and the gestural delicacy of the second.”
- Jennifer Dunning, The New York Times 1984
“…Its awareness of cross cultural currents makes the Asian American Dance Theatre a fascinating company.”
- Jack Anderson, The New York Times 1978
“Yung showed a gracious composure and softness in the plain hand gestures of her absorbing solo ‘Perhaps…’ and ‘The Camp’, the closing piece, was a quietly powerful reminder of the WWII Internment”
-Burt Supree, The Village Voice, 1986

Some of the notable people from the NY arts world who saw my works were Richard Lanier of Rockefeller III Fund who spoke to me excitedly after my collaborative piece with my brother Danny, “Identification in Progress #1,#2,#3” at Synod House (1976); Dorothy Vislocky of Hunter College who came backstage to congratulate me on “Passage” at Riverside (1979),costume designed by Kwok Yee Tai; artist Zhang Hong-tu who painted a backdrop for my piece “Silk Road” (1983) in which Onie Lee had her debut at 4 years of age, and Brooklyn College made a documentary of its production; and David White of DTW who complimented my choreography in “Passage”(1980). I truly appreciated all these positive and encouraging responses to my work.

I won awards from Creative Artists and NEA Dance, and I served on the advisory panels at NEA and NYSCA for many years. My contribution representing the Asian American dance to these funding agencies was limited as my community was small and peripheral, an art form outside the mainstream if not obscure. The hierarchical order of dance in the U.S. has always been in descending order - classical ballet, classical modern, contemporary, and the last would be small experimental dance companies of a particular community. While this defines the order of significance of American dance, the questionable category of classical non-western dance in America would fall into Folk Arts.

AADT continued presenting traditional Asian dance, in NYC schools, and across the nation. We sought out dancers from Asia, newly immigrated and not able to find venues for their art. Many times, they sought us out. We presented them in lecture demonstrations in elementary and secondary schools, community centers, and public libraries. These exquisite dancers were ambassadors of their individual cultures, and often, it would be the first time the audience came into contact with a new culture of which they had little knowledge. The performers in full costume spoke to them about the art form and the people behind it. In one school, a student came up to Marlene Pitkow, our Program manager at the time, asked her for her autograph, and asked whether we would be performing on Broadway. Instances like this made my day.

Aside from the one-hour lecture demos, we also provided the Indian Dance and the Chinese Dance Intensive Workshop series respectively, accompanied by comprehensive study guides researched and written by Meriam Lobel, who was a significant force behind our Arts-in-Education program. There were many people behind the scenes making this Asian Dance Program both remarkable and memorable.

The professionalism and the artistry of all our dancers were impeccable. Dancers such as the Balinese sisters Suarti and Suarni were recruited by the Asia Society to further its programs. Choreographer/dancers Kuang Yu Fong, Tomie Hahn, Marie Alonzo, and Ananya Chatterjea all worked in the capacity of management, and continued in their respective careers in academia, research, publications, and setting up their own performance companies among many other things. They all had great accomplishments after AADT. I am so honored to have crossed paths with them.

Introducing traditional Asian dances was not limited to NYC schools. We also took the company on tour, sometimes together with the contemporary repertoire. We performed for audiences large and small across the country, both indoors in theaters and outdoors at festivals.

I would like to acknowledge all the dancers/choreographers who passed through the Asian American Dance Theatre in both our traditional and contemporary repertoire, at home and on tour, contributing to the history of AADT. Not in any order, and far from complete are: Shakti, Chen Guo, Ray Tadio, Yung Yung Tsuai, Nancy Latuja, Kathy Serio, Arundhati Chattopadhyaya, Tamir Yardenne, Julio Leitao, Junko Kikuchi, Michiyo Tanaka, Young Soon Kim, Audrey Jung, Young Lan Lee, Muna Tseng, Nayo Takasaki, Haruka Namiji, Lynn Macri, Deena Burton, Carla Scheele, Xie Wei-Xin, Pam Noschese, Annie Bien, and countless more.

Behind the scene personnel were notable stage managers and light designers, including sound/composer Brooks Williams, who composed original work for my dance piece “Dreams and Fantasies” (1985), and later became Board member of the organization.

Back at home base, we started the innovative series D’Asia Vu, its name credited to Tomie Hahn. The first D’Asia Vu presentation took place at Ilene Pinder’s Balinese American Dance Theater before moving back to our own venue at 26 Bowery. Mary Hays, the then Director of the New York State Council on the Arts at the time, was in the audience.

At 26 Bowery, we continued our own community school. There were classes in children’s ballet and creative dance, as well as adult Chinese dance, Jazz, Alexander technique, Jazzercise, Taichi, and in some years by popular demand, ballroom dancing. Memorable are the teachers Nai-Ni Chen, Oilin McBreen, Boon Teo, Vivien Chen, Linda Reiff, Chen Min and Yen Leung. Elaine Chu began her connection with me as babysitter at 16, then turned assistant administrator, bookkeeper for the organization, and finally became School Manager when her own children were attending high school. For many years, we had Annual Dance Recitals, bringing together the children, their parents and the community. We had large coverage from the local media, and truly enjoyed being a community arts organization.

These days I sometimes encounter in Chinatown, parents and grand parents of former students. They greet me warmly. It is gratifying to hear one parent telling me how appreciative he is. He credited the growth and success of his children to the weekly classes they attended at the Asian American DanceTheatre/Arts Centre in their formative years.

While the dance component of the organization continued briefly into 1992, my tenure at the Asian American Dance Theatre as Artistic and Executive Director ended in 1990, and the organization became primarily a Visual Arts organization.