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Michelle Tabnick
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NAI-NI CHEN DANCE COMPANY to celebrate 'The Year of the Dog' at NJPAC, Feb. 10

by Michelle Tabnick
January 23, 2018
New Jersey Performing Arts Center
1 Center Street
Newark, NJ 07102
(888) 466-5722
to celebrate "The Year of the Dog" at NJPAC
Saturday, February 10, 2018

Colorful costumes, twirling ribbons, dancing dragons - they're all part of Year of the Dog, a dance and music celebration of the Chinese New Year by NJ's acclaimed Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, which will celebrate its 20
th Chinese New Year Celebration at NJ's premier venue.

For the 20th year, the critically acclaimed Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company returns to perform the Chinese New Year Celebration at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), 1 Center Street, Newark, NJ 07102, on Saturday, February 10, 2018 at 2pm & 7pm. Tickets are $25 - $33 and are available at www.njpac.org/events/detail/year-of-the-dog-the-nai-ni-chen-dance-company. At this landmark 20th year performance, the Nai-Ni Chen Company will honor the support of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation with a special award ceremony on stage.

Choreographer Nai-Ni Chen and her dancers fuse the dynamic freedom of American modern dance with the grace and splendor of Asian art. Their spectacular productions take audiences beyond cultural boundaries, to a place where tradition meets innovation and freedom arises from discipline. The company has received more than 15 awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, and numerous Citations of Excellence from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
Chen and company specialize in "a remarkably smooth blend of the new and the old, as well as a confident, intensely personal approach to nature," says The New York Times, which has described Chen's dancers as "endlessly proliferating forces of cosmic energy."
"With their intriguing choreography of traditional and modern Chinese dance, elaborate costuming, and a variety of music, this company succeeds in delighting persons of all ages." 
- Broadway World
Metropolitan area audiences have made this event an annual tradition. For this celebration, Nai-Ni Chen produced a program that introduces the beauty, creativity and diversity of Chinese and Chinese-American arts in New York and New Jersey through high-quality performance and activities. As a tradition, the Company will begin the celebration with a new and fantastic Double Lion Dance, in which a dancer, dressed as a child, plays with two golden lions in stylized, coordinated acrobatic maneuvers.  The dance symbolizes the coming of spring and a prayer for peace as a small child appears in harmony with the ferocious lions.  
To celebrate diverse Chinese folk cultures, the Company will offer a coin stick dance based on the Han people's culture in Hubei, China. Dancers use bamboo sticks filled with coins to make complex rhythms and steps to express their joy and prayer for a prosperous New Year.

This year, aside from festival programs featuring these wonderful traditional dances, the Company will be celebrating the special "Year of the Dog" with internationally renowned acrobat Lina Liu, also known as Miracle On Tiptoe, who is a world record holder for the number of umbrellas she can hold on her toes.

Through her toes and body, Lina Liu skillfully expresses the classical umbrella dance culture. Lina Liu has performed in some the most prominent events on all continents, including the World Expo and the World Davos Forum.
This year's festival will also include traditional music by some of the most prominent musicians from the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York, the largest ensemble of top-tier classical Chinese musicians.

These colorful, culturally rich dances not only enhance the festive mood of the audience, they also provide them with the background to join the company in celebration of Nai-Ni Chen's original creations, based on her signature, cross-cultural style.  This year she will feature two of her choreographic works, which fuse the dynamism of American modern dance and the diverse, elegant splendor of her Chinese culture. The final dance in Nai-Ni Chen's Five Elementseries, "Metal" will feature six dancers dancing with swords and fans, reflecting the destructive and constructive power of the metal. Nai-Ni Chen created this work not only to celebrate the New Year, but also the cycles of nature at the core of Chinese artistic tradition. She will complement "Metal" with "Wood," a dance for five women using 10-foot bamboo poles.  The dance is based on one of Nai-Ni Chen's signature works, "Bamboo Prayer," a dance about the inner strength of women.  
Since 2005, Nai-Ni Chen has been experimenting with Chinese Bamboo Rap, a form of folk music with strong social justice roots, which is prevalent in Beijing. She will showcase the cross-cultural, cross-genre work: "Bamboo Rap in the Year of the Dog."

According to the Chinese calendar, family and friends should expect 12 months of joyful togetherness in the Year of the Dog. This lively performance to mark the beginning of the year will warm the hearts and delight the senses of audiences of all ages. Dancers with colorful, elaborate costumes, musicians playing ancient melodies and dazzling acrobats fill the stage. The playful Lions bring joy and good fortune.  The majestic dragons fly out of the ocean and charm the Earth with a spell of peace and wealth.  Exotic music and dance from various parts of China come together in a show of beauty and excitement. The festivities extend into the lobby, where an arts and crafts display showcases more of the culture and creativity of the Chinese-American community.
A Chinese New Year Celebration would not be complete without a visit by the auspicious Dragon. The Company will be performing the Dragon Dance as a conclusion to this fantastic celebration.

About the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company

Bringing the dynamic freedom of American modern dance together with the elegant splendor of Asian art, the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company is one of the most visible Asian American dance companies in America.  Ms. Chen's unique choreography transports audiences beyond cultural boundaries to the common ground between tradition and innovation, rising beyond form into the  spirit. 
One of the few Asian American professional dance companies with an extensive season of touring and performing around the world, Nai-Ni Chen has also developed Arts in Education residency programs in school districts to bring culture and arts into educational settings.  Its colorful and engaging programs and workshops have reached over one million young audience members in the NY/NJ area. The Company is currently in residence at New Jersey City University and has been a Principal Affiliate of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center since its inception.
The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company has the honor of having received more than fifteen awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and numerous Citations of Excellence and grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.  Other funders include the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation; the Hyde and Watson Foundation; Horizon Foundation, The Irving and Laurie Blanchard Foundation; the E.J. Grassman Trust; PSE&G; the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council; Verizon; Sony; New Music/USA; Chase Manhattan Bank; the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation and others. 

New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located in downtown Newark, N.J., has the most diverse programming and audience of any performing arts center in the country, and is the artistic, cultural, educational and civic center of New Jersey - where great performances and events enhance and transform lives every day. NJPAC brings diverse communities together, providing access to all and showcasing the state's and the world's best artists while acting as a leading catalyst in the revitalization of its home city. Through its extensive Arts Education programs, NJPAC is shaping the next generation of artists and arts enthusiasts. NJPAC has attracted more than 8 million visitors (including over 1.6 million children) since opening its doors in 1997, and nurtures meaningful and lasting relationships with each of its constituents.
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