“A blossom of color, energy and motion, like endlessly proliferating forces of cosmic energy,” – New York Times
The three sisters of the Ahn Trio (Lucia on the piano, Angella on the violin, and Maria on the cello) have earned a distinguished reputation for embracing 21st century classical music with their unique style and innovative collaborations. This performance is with the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company. A QUEST FOR FREEDOM blends the freedom of the American spirit with the grace and splendor of the Asian aesthetic, telling the story of Nai-Ni Chen’s (artistic director/choreographer) journey from Taiwan to New York.
The Ahn Trio
ABOUT THE AHN TRIO
Since its inception, the Ahn Trio—composed of sisters Lucia (piano), Maria (cello) and Angella (violin)—has enthralled audiences with their freewheeling approach to chamber music, their original programming and their unabashed zeal in playing works and arrangements written for them by living composers. All trained at the Juilliard School of music, the Korean-born sisters have been celebrated as consummate musicians, innovative collaborators, and classical music ambassadors. The LA Times has called them “exacting and exciting musicians,” and New York Newsday has proclaimed them “Classical Revolutionaries”.
For over two decades, in their mission to broaden the world of classical music and to encourage younger generations to embrace it as both performers and audience members, the Ahns have traveled to over 30 countries and to every state in America, performing in such diverse venues as the White House, New York’s Lincoln Center, Buenos Aires’ Teatro Colon, Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace and Prague’s Jazz Dock Club. They have collaborated with a rock band (Tata Bojs); with dance companies (David Parsons Dance Company; Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company; James Sewell Ballet); with a B-Boy group (Visual Shock Crew); with singers (The Kin, Susie Suh); with DJs (Superdrive, DJ Spooky); and with visual artists. Such luminaries as Pat Metheny, Michael Nyman, Maurice Jarre, Chiel Meijering, Paul Schoenfield, Mark O’Connor, Nikolai Kapustin, and Paul Chihara have written for the Ahns. The sisters’ passion for mixing different art forms has not only inspired many to follow in their footsteps, but has caught the interest of those in print and electronic media, who have asked them to model and to participate in ad campaigns.
Amongst these have been Vogue magazines throughout the world; People magazine, for which the sisters posed in its annual beautiful people issue; and Gap, for whom they did an ad campaign. In addition, they have given innumerable interviews on television, on radio, and in newspapers, discussing how their music intertwines with their lives.
Of their many recordings, Ravel and Villa-Lobos (Chesky) was praised by Audio Magazine as “one of Ravel’s best and never better played,” and their Dvorak, Suk, and Shostakovich (EMI) album won Germany’s prestigious ECHO Award. Ahn-Plugged (EMI) was inspired by Maria’s and Angella’s appearance on Bryan Adams’ MTV “Unplugged,” and Groovebox (EMI) introduced a CD of all works written for the sisters. LAMP (LuciaAngellaMaria Productions) produced Lullaby for My Favorite Insomniac, which was then picked up by SONY and remained No. 8 on the Billboard Charts for 26 weeks. The Trio has also released Smetana (Warner) with the Czech Grammy-winning rock group Tata Bojs, and Maria released a solo EP of her idol David Bowie’s music on Je T’aime Bowie.
In 2017, the Trio released Blue, their most eclectic and personal album to date. A musical diary of the sisters’ past and present, they celebrate being a family band and give respect to artists and musical pioneers that have inspired them. The album contains musical snapshots of the Ahns performing at TEDWomen and meeting extraordinary female leaders from around the world, of falling in love with Brazil and the bossa nova, of exploring new colors with the great Parisian jazz musician Nguyên Lê, of collaborating over the years with Juilliard classmate Kenji Bunch. New friends in the album include Hyung-ki Joo of Igudesman & Joo, and D.D. Jackson, who arranged Jimi Hendrix’ ‘Little Wing’ for them.
The Ahns believe they have an obligation to turn young musicians on to classical music through teaching. Angella holds the position of professor of Violin and Viola at Montana State University, and Maria teaches cello at the Harlem School of the Arts in NYC; and wherever and whenever the sisters perform, they hold master classes and workshops. Through their musical trailblazing, they establish the old truth that music is a universal language.
Nai-Ni Chen Choreographer / Artistic Director of the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, one of the few professional touring Asian American dance companies that is led by a woman in the United States. Since the inception of her Company in 1988, Ms. Chen has created a wide-ranging repertory, from dances that originated thousands of years ago to highly abstract, modern works which were presented in numerous theaters throughout 41 states in the United States and in Europe, Asia and the Americas.
Coming from a rich dance tradition, Nai-Ni Chen was a renowned traditional dancer in Taiwan and served on several ambassadorial culture missions to nineteen countries around the world. An early member of the Cloud Gate Dance Theater in Taiwan, she came to America to seek her own voice in the world of contemporary dance in 1982. Winning critical acclaim worldwide, Ms. Chen has received Choreographer’s Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and from New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Her work has been commissioned by the Joyce Theater Foundation, the New Jersey Performing Art Center, the Lincoln Center Institute, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Dancing in the Streets, and the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. She has taught master classes and set her choreography at colleges and universities throughout the United States such as Ailey School, Case Western Reserve and Long Island University. She also taught at dance festivals in Russia, Poland, Taiwan, China and Mongolia. As a guest choreographer, she has created works for Dancing Wheels Company of Cleveland, Ohio, Ballet Met’s in Columbus, Ohio, New Jersey Ballet and also for several opera productions in New Jersey. In New York, she has taught at Mary Anthony Dance Studio, Peridance, and New York University, where she received her Master’s in Dance and Dance Education. She has been a principal affiliate artist of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center since its inception. On television, Ms. Chen is an often-featured artist on Sino Vision and PBS’s “State of the Arts”. For her contribution to the community, she has won numerous awards as “Culture Ambassador” from OCA, NJ Chinese American Chamber of Commerce, and others.
Tony Marques Freelance lighting designer and stage manager has mainly worked in the field of dance. He has recently completed a 26 city, 9 week tour of China with“Rock the Ballet / The Bad Boys of Dance.” Since last year, he has designed several ballets for ABT ballet stars Diana Vishneva, and Marcelo Gomes. He has also designed two world premieres productions for Ardani Artists’, “Solo for Two”, starring Ivan Vasiliev and Natalia Osipova, and “Ardani at Twenty Five”. He has also designed New York Seasons for Locomotive Dance Co. Elisa Monte Dance, Youth America Grand Prix Ballet, Rebecca Kelly Ballet, C. Eule Dance, and Thomas/Ortiz Dance.
Greta Campo Associate Artistic Director/Dancer began her dance training in her native Milan at the Carcano Theater, where she was first introduced to Martha Graham’s work. At age 19, she began the Professional Training Program at the Martha Graham School in NYC and, after a couple of months, she joined Graham II, performing in ensemble and solo roles. She performed with the Martha Graham Dance Company in their 2012 New York Season and has also been traveling nationally and internationally with them. She completed the Teacher Training Program at the School. Greta has performed choreographies by Pascal Rioult, Larry Keigwin and has worked with renowned choreographers, such as Eryc Taylor and Nejla Yatkin. She was a member of Alison Cook Beatty Dance and received the 2016 Rising Star Award from Fini Dance Festival.
Ethan Gwynn Dancer was born State College Pennsylvania where he began his dance training at the Performing Arts School of Central Pennsylvania under the guidance of Andrea Hill and Lane Grosser. Subsequently, he joined the Staycee Pearl Dance Project. He continued his training at both the Certificate Program of the Alvin Ailey American Dance School and the French Ballet Academy. Ethan has continued to perform with companies such as Project 44, Tanz Theater, Bloodline Dance Theater, Pennsylvania Dance Workshop, American Liberty Ballet Company, and Mystic Dance. Ethan has also worked with artists such as Matthew Rushing, Nicholas Vilenueve, Staycee Pearl, Andre Kosloski, and Leonie Stein.
Candace Jarvis Dancer originally from Ontario, is a professional dancer now based in New York City. She graduated as a Certificate Student from The Ailey School in 2015, and since has gone on to perform works by several well-known choreographers in venues all across the US. Candace performed in Alvin Ailey’s Revelations Cast of 50 at New Jersey Performing Arts Center and took part in Robert Battle’s New Directions Choreographers Lab at The Ailey School. Additionally, she performed as a featured guest artist in Exit Like An Animal for KEIGWIN + COMPANY’s 2015 Joyce Season. Furthermore, Candace has performed work under the direction of choreographers such as Amy Hall, Tracy Inman, Norbert De La Cruz III, and Emily Greenwell. Candace is currently entering her fourth season with Nai Ni Chen Dance Company.
Cara McManus Dancer, trained in her native Falmouth, MA before earning a BFA in dance and a BA in Comparative Literature from Fordham University and the Ailey School. She performs with the Martha Graham Dance Company in New York seasons, nationally, and internationally. She has also had the pleasure of working with Joshua Beamish/MOVE the Company, Tadej Brdnik, and Kat Pantos/the Pantos Project. She was recently featured in The White Wolf, a film by visual artist Sue de Beer displayed at the Marianne Boesky Gallery in NYC.
Evan Matthew Stewart Dancer, originally from Buffalo, NY, began his dance training at Miss Barbara’s School of Dance and at the age of ten continued to advance his training at David deMarie Dance Studio in styles varying from contemporary to tap and ballet to jazz. Evan also attended the Royal Academy of Ballet (Buffalo, NY) under the direction of Beth Waddell and while in college, attended the Joffrey School of Ballet New York City summer intensive to further his skills in ballet. In 2016, Evan graduated from the University of Buffalo with his BFA in dance and minor in counseling. During his time at the University at Buffalo, Evan was a member of the dance program’s pre-professional company Zodiaque under the direction of Thomas Ralabate and Tressa Gorman-Crehan. Recently in moving to the New York City area, Evan has had the opportunity to become a member of XY Dance Project directed by Nijawwon Matthews and also work as his in- class and traveling assistant.
Rashidi Lewis Dancer, is a Jamaican- American dancer and choreographer born and raised in Miami, Fl where he earned his BFA in Dance Performance from New World School of the Arts. He has now had the opportunity to present his work in Miami, New York City, and Iceland. Rashidi has since performed with companies such as Keigwin+Company, Gaspard and Dancers, Zullo Raw Movement, Vissi Dance Theater, Elisa Monte Dance, and Eryc Taylor Dance.
Yuka Notsuka Dancer, born in Fukuoka, Japan. She began her Ballet training in her hometown at age four. Later she broadened her training to include Jazz and Tap. She worked as a performer in Universal Studios Japan and Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Nagasaki from 2011-2015. Later Yuka moved to New York City to further pursue her career as a dancer. In 2015 she entered the Ailey School as a scholarship student. She performed in Ailey Spirit Gala Concert at Lincoln Center choreographed by Tracy Inman (Co-Director, The Ailey School) and Robert Battl e(Artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater). In New York she also has been in training and served as Teaching Assistant at the Luigi Jazz Dance Center under Francis J. Roach.
Sonny Shiu Dancer, is a Chinese-American who was born in Visalia, California but moved to Miami, Florida when he was 3. He started dancing at the age of 20 when he took interest in breakdancing, then at the age of 21 he was accepted into New World School of the Arts for dance where he graduated with his BFA in dance. Sonny has furthered his ballet training at intensives such as Charlotte Ballet, Alonzo King Lines Ballet, and CuBallet where he received scholarships as well as at Complexions Ballet, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, and recently the Paul Taylor school. Since he graduated, he has danced with Peter London Global Dance Company and Dance Now! Miami. Sonny has also worked with Dale Andree on the 2018 National Water Dance.
ABOUT 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 reaches more than 100,000 audience members a year. Ms. Chen’s unique choreography transports audiences beyond cultural boundaries to the common ground between tradition and innovation, discipline and freedom, and form and spirit. Winning critical acclaim everywhere, the Company has become the pride and joy of Asian-American communities across the United States. Celebrating the diversity of ideas shaped by the immigrant’s journey, the Company bridges the gap in understanding between cultures.
Since its inception in 1988, the company has earned a broad base of public support and has toured to major U.S. performing arts centers in more than 30 states. Presented by some of the most prestigious concert halls in the United States, from the Joyce Theater in New York to the Ordway Center in Minnesota and the Cerritos Center in California, the Company has mounted more than 20 national tours and nine tours abroad. Ms. Chen’s work has been presented by international festivals including the Poland’s Silesian International Contemporary Dance Festival and the Konfrontations International Dance Festival, the Chang Mu International Arts Festival in Korea and the Meet in Beijing International Arts Festival. The Company was also honored by a grant award from both the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities and the Department of State to represent the United States in a seven-city tour arranged by the Tamaulipas International Arts Festival in Mexico. Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company has received more than 15 awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and numerous Citations of Excellence and grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
In addition to its extensive season of touring and performing, the company has developed Arts-in- Education residency programs in school districts to bring culture and arts into educational settings. It’s colorful and engaging in-school assembly program The Art of Chinese Dance has been presented in hundreds of schools in NJ, NY, CT and PA, reaching hundreds of thousands of youth. The Company is currently in-residence at New Jersey City University.
Music: Sounds heard from the Moon by Jiha Park/Ahn Trio Dancer: Nai-Ni Chen
Music: Kenji Bunch
Dancers: Greta Campo, Ethan Gwynn, Candace Jarvis, Cara McManus, Yuka Notsuka, Evan Stewart
The choreographer was inspired to create this dance after reading this poem written by a woman poet from Persia. And Kenji Bunch was invited to compose this beautiful music for the Trio.
A Word for Freedom
By Latif Nazemi
Translated from the Persian/Dari by Bashir Sakhawarz
Let’s kiss water the root of civilization a word for freedom
I’m in love with water
with roaring and restless rivers that are not seduced by trees nor captured by jungles
They flow day and night carry on forever.
Let’s praise rivers that lust for flowing for searching for a heart of temptation
that know what message water delivers to stone, the questions water asks from quiet coasts.
Passerby, for a long time
the river has been constrained in an old robe on our street and thrown into a well
Water wars with the well water in the mind of a tree water in the solitude of a cup,
water in the memory of flowerpot, inconsolable.
I had a wonderful dream on Friday night.
I dreamed the river ran free that on its roaring horse
it rode over stones, past the border of farms.
Music: Hyung-Ki Joo (excerpt) Performed by Lucia Ahn Visual Images by Nai-Ni Chen
Music: Zoe Keating
Dancers: Greta Campo, Candace Jarvis, Rashidi Lewis, Cara McManus, Yuka Notsuka, Sonny Shiu, Evan Stewart
Music: David Balakrishnan, arranged by Kenji Bunch Performed by the Ahn Trio
Music: David Bowie/Pat Metheny – This is Not America (arr. Jürgen Dahmen)
Music: Kenji Bunch- Night Flight Dancers: Company
———————- Intermission ——————-
Shapes of Water
Music: Pat Metheny – Yuryung (written for Ahn Trio)
Dancers: Greta Campo, Ethan Gwynn, Candace Jarvis, Rashidi Lewis, Cara McManus, Yuka Notsuka, Evan Stewart
A night life in a metropolitan city, people are drifting like ghosts. They are like the shapes of water flowing in the ever changing river.
Alone but not alone
Dancer: Sonny Shiu
Are you ever alone? When you are in a big city pursuing American Dream have you ever felt a sense of lost and loneliness?
- Music: Ludovico Einaudi – Nuvole Bianche (arr. Ahn Trio) Dancers: Candace Jarvis, Evan Stewart
- Music: Ronn Yedidia- Lullabye
Dancers: Rashidi Lewis, Cara McManus, Yuka Notsuka, Evan Stewart
Gender, Power, Control, Position, Can we ever break free? As we are yearning for harmony, is there a forgotten past hidden somewhere? If there is conflict there must be a resolution.
Music: David Bowie – Space Oddity (arr. Kenji Bunch) Dancers: Company
Purple Rain Music: Prince – Purple Rain (arr. Kenji Bunch) Performed by the Ahn Trio
Music: Chiel Meijering – Candybox
Dancers: Greta Campo, Candace Jarvis, Cara McManus, Yuka Notsuka, Sonny Shiu, Evan Stewart Courage, strength and positivity will drive us to the destiny.