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JOURNEY IN THE WEST dance theater production

  • Vanderbilt Blair School of Music  (map)

Saturday, Feb 24, at 7 PM; Sunday, Feb 25, at 2PM

Ingram Hall, Vanderbilt Blair School of Music

For more information contact: 616-385-9341

Jen-Jen Lin left Taiwan for this country with dreams of choreographing modern dance without a trace of the culture she was leaving behind, but her roots came to play an essential role in her career - and eventually Nashville’s life. 

She discovered a passion for involving and educating the public, including Chinese-American children, in the traditional Asian heritage she had to wanted erase from her dance. 

The Chinese Arts Alliance of Nashville, of which Lin is artistic director, choreographer and founder, is presenting a culmination of her years of work in the dance theater production "Journey in the West." Performances are 7 pm, Sat, Feb. 24, and 2 pm, Sun., Feb. 25, at Ingram Hall, Vanderbilt Blair School of Music. 

The colorful gala is the product of dozens of talented dancers, musicians and visual and multi-media artists of diverse backgrounds, including transplants from the Philippines, China, Myanmar, Iran, Azerbaijan and elsewhere. 

“No matter where we are from, we thrive working together, sharing our art, our experiences and our stories,” Lin said. 

New and old ideas are explored in seven visually striking pieces. The theme of one, Build, is inspired by Nashville’s growth. Another is taken from a popular Chinese folk tale, “QiXi,” (pronounced “CheeSee”). It’s an ancient story of two lovers represented by the Vega and Altair stars in the sky. Circumstances result in the stars/lovers meeting only once a year - every 7th day of the 7th month - on a bridge of magpies across the Milky Way. “QiXi” in Chinese means Seventh Night. 

Over the years, the Chinese Arts Alliance of Nashville, now 15 years old, has woven itself into the city’s fabric. It flies largely under the radar, holding pop-up theater events and performing in parks, libraries, schools, senior citizens centers, as well as putting on occasional larger, grander shows at the Martha Ingram Center for the Performing Arts. Presently Chinese Arts Alliance is one of the group’s residency program with Metro Nashville Parks. 

Lin holds a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and has been a faculty member at College of William & Mary and Trinity College. In Taiwan she was a choreographer for the internationally acclaimed Lan Yang Chinese Dance Performing Group in Taiwan. Part of her training was under the late Shao Ting Wang, a dance/movements expert of DaPeng Chinese Opera School. 

When Lin moved from to the U.S. in 1982, she wanted to blend in and rid her dance of Chinese influence. But she slowly she grew disturbed by Chinese-American children and youth who she found shunned their Asian heritage. She realized she could and should embrace the old ways without abandoning modern dance. 

Among those working to put on the upcoming performance are also dancers from Nashville School of the Arts. Joseph Rembert, a Chinese martial artist who grew up in Franklin, will be the Monkey King in one piece. Other key dancers of the production are Nerissa Aquino, Marcelis Barrett, and Kap Sum. Musicians include Jesse Strauss, percussionist from Chatterbird music ensemble, Melinda Lio, a Chinese Pipa player, and Michael Lucarelli, an electric violinist. A 60-foot long Dragon, which took 50 volunteers and artists 3 months to restore, will appear in one number. 

“JOURNEY IN THE WEST” dance theater preview video: 

Tickets: Eventbrite on-line