Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company Presents Annual Lunar New Year Performance At NJPAC!

A Newark tradition for over two decades, Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company returns to NJPAC to welcome the coming Spring of 2023, the Year of the Black Water Rabbit.

By: Jan. 05, 2023
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Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company Presents Annual Lunar New Year Performance At NJPAC!

Fort Lee, N.J. based Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company will begin its annual celebration of the Lunar New Year. It is the year of the rabbit and this year's presentation is the Black Water Rabbit with the world premiere of Lion in The City featuring hip-hop break-dancing legends Kwikstep and Rokafella. Kwikstep, founder of the Full Circle Breaking Crew and a mentor to some of the best break dancers in the U.S. and Rokafella, one of the most iconic b-girls in hip-hop history will take to the stage with Nai Ni Chen on Saturday, January 21 and Sunday January 22 at 2pm. This annual performance is graciously sponsored by M&T Bank.

Tickets to see Nai-Ni Chen featuring break dancing legends Kwikstep and Rokafella are available now by visiting or calling 888. GO.NJPAC (888.466.5722) or by visiting the NJPAC Box Office.

A Newark tradition for over two decades, Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company returns to NJPAC to welcome the coming Spring of 2023, the Year of the Black Water Rabbit. This year, to honor the 50th Anniversary of Hip-Hop, the Company will present the New Jersey Premiere of Dragon Cypher, a work developed by Nai-Ni Chen, Rokafella, and Kwikstep, collaboratively, integrating Chinese dance, contemporary choreography, and Hip-Hop Dance. It's a spectacular experience for all ages, combining traditional Chinese celebrations with a modern flair.

In addition, NJPAC has commissioned the Company to create Lion in the City, a new lion dance to incorporate ideas from Hip-Hop culture. In response, the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company has assembled a cross-cultural team consisting of the Company's Director of New and Contemporary Dance, PeiJu Chien- Pott, assisted by H+ | The Hip-Hop Dance Conservatory's Yvonne H. Chow, Lion Dance Master Henry Lee, and Hip-Hop break-dancing legends Kwikstep and Rokafella. DJ Kwikstep will develop new music incorporating the unique rhythms of Chinese Lion Dance drumming and Hip-Hop. At the same time, Rokafella works with the team to uniquely translate Hip-Hop Dance vocabulary onto the body of the lion. As Yvonne and PeiJu oversee the integration of all elements, we look forward to welcoming a Red Lion dancing to a mix of Chinese drums and Hip-Hop rhythms.

Besides these two new cross-cultural works, the Company will also present the Yungge (Harvest Song) and Peacock Dance from its traditional dance repertory and one of Nai-Ni Chen's signature works, Movable Figures, from the Company's contemporary dance repertoire.

The Lunar New Year of the Rabbit performance is only complete with authentic Chinese Classical music performance by the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York and the spectacular Dragon Dance. The audience will be blessed by the visitation of the Dragon, bringing good luck and fortune to every attendee of this celebration.

The Company will also showcase a contemporary dance work, Ashes of A Dead Frog, choreographed by legendary Polish Choreographer Jacek Luminski and commissioned by Nai-Ni Chen almost a decade ago. Guest artists from the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York will provide traditional and contemporary music on classical and folk Chinese instruments.

The Company Dancers, acrobats, and musicians perform in festive costumes in red, gold, blue, and purple colors symbolizing their prayer for a peaceful and harmonious New Year with plenty of prosperity and good fortune for everyone to enjoy and share.

"Chen's phrases, part exoskeletal rigidity, part boneless grace, embodied an epic dignity." - Village Voice Choreographer/Dancer Nai-Ni Chen (1958-2021) was a unique artist whose work crosses many cultural boundaries. Each of her dances reflect her personal vision as an immigrant and an American female artist with deep roots in the Asian culture. From this very personal perspective, she created new works that reflect current issues with global influences. Some of her works were developed in collaboration with renowned artists such as the Ahn Trio, Glen Velez, Joan La Barbara, Jason Kao Hwang, Tao Chen, Tan Dun and the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York. Bridging the grace of Asian elegance and American dynamism, the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company is a premier provider of innovative cultural experiences that reflect the inspiring hope and energy of the immigrant's journey. The company's ground-breaking works have focused on themes from ancient legends that reflect issues of the present time to purely abstract, contemporary dances influenced by a mix of cultures Nai-Ni Chen experienced in New York. An Asian American company that celebrates cross-cultural experience, the Company's productions naturally bring forth issues of identity, authenticity, and equality.

The Company has presented at some of the most prestigious concert halls such as The Joyce Theater, Lincoln Center in New York, and the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center in Florida. The Company appears annually at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Queens College, the College of Staten Island and on Ellis Island. Internationally, the Company has presented at international festivals including Open Look Festival in Russia, the Silesian International Contemporary Dance Festival, the Konfrontations International Festival in Poland, the Chang Mu International Dance Festival in Korea, the Meet in Beijing International Arts Festival in China, and the Tamaulipas International Arts Festival in Mexico.

The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company has received more than 20 awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and numerous Citations of Excellence and grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Advancing Dance Education, the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company is currently in residence in New Jersey City University pioneering a program with the University's A Harry Moore Laboratory School teaching dance to urban children with disabilities. For additional Company information, visit their website,; write to Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, P.O. Box 1121, Fort Lee, NJ 07024; or call (800) 650- 0246.

Programs of the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company are made possible by the generous support of our Board members, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, The Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation (MAAF), the New Jersey Cultural Trust, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, The New Jersey Arts and Culture Recovery Fund administered by the Princeton Area Community Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Hyde and Watson Foundation, E.J. Grassman Trust, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, New Music USA, the Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Dance/NYC Dance Advancement Fund, the Rapid Response Program of American Dance Abroad, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters' Cultural Exchange Fund, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, PSEG, Proskauer, WAC Lighting, and the Glow Foundation and the Dragon and Phoenix Foundation.

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