FLOWERS AND FOG Created By Melissa Lewis Wong To Premiere May 18 In San Francisco

Several years in the making, flowers and fog explores the relationship between a parent and child, and its inevitable ruptures and reconnections.

By: Feb. 05, 2024
FLOWERS AND FOG Created By Melissa Lewis Wong To Premiere May 18 In San Francisco

Melissa Lewis Wong, a queer, Chinese American, dance and drag artist, is proud to announce the world premiere of 花和霧 flowers and fog, a portrait of the artist and their mother, Joy ChenYu Lewis, bridging cultures, identities and art disciplines.

Several years in the making, flowers and fog explores the relationship between a parent and child, and its inevitable ruptures and reconnections. Wong and her mother, both artists, forge a bond that is at once particular and archetypal, each following their distinct artistic lineages through film, contemporary dance, drag and classical Chinese song to find a meeting place in the middle.

Over the last decade and a half, Wong has earned a reputation as an essential collaborator with numerous dance, theater and experimental performance groups in the Bay Area, including Detour, Fog Beast, Megan Lowe Dances and Peiling Kao Dances. With support from the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center, San Francisco Arts Commission, Zellerbach Family Foundation, Dancers' Group, Kenneth Rainin Foundation as well as a Dresher Ensemble Artist Residency, Wong has finally had the opportunity to develop their first major performance project.

On April 8, sponsored by Movement Research, Wong and her mother will share a work-in-progress showing of flowers and fog at Judson Church in New York. More information will be posted later this winter at movementresearch.org/classes-and-events/events.

“The idea for flowers and fog came out of a longing for deeper connection with my mother,” said Wong. “I wanted to know her better, and I wanted to honor my ancestry through her, who for as long as I can remember, has always served as the culture bearer for Chinese culture and language in our mixed-race family.” Lewis grew up in Northern China, fleeing to Inner Mongolia for five years during China's Cultural Revolution before immigrating to New York City in 1980 to study English and music at the City College of New York and Columbia University.

“As the project developed, it also became a container for my mother's imagination, an opportunity to play and experiment, and we found ourselves sharing and exchanging roles, the child nurturing the mother, just as I had been nurtured before. Flowers and fog has been a journey of discovery and mutual understanding for each of us.”

Part of the artistic bridge that Wong forges for her mother takes the form of drag, and each performance of flowers and fog will feature an appearance by one of several guest drag artists including Hennessy Williams, LOTUS BOY, Obsidienne Obsurd, Peekaboo and Sir Acha – culminating in a communal mahjong game.

Additional collaborators include assistant director Kat Cole; contributing directors Kim Ip, Erika Chong Shuch and Emma Tome; sound designer and live musical artist Tome; lighting designer GG Torres; projection designer Ainsley Tharp with assistance from Zoe Huey; and production director and front-of-house manager Eric Garcia.

Tickets

Flowers and fog opens in preview on Friday, May 17, and runs for two weekends through May 26. Performances take place Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m. at the historic Gateway Theater in San Francisco's Chinatown, with an optional pre-performance picnic experience at 1 p.m. in nearby Portsmouth Square. Limited to 12 people, the picnic will include sweet and savory dim sum, tea and other snacks. Tickets for the in-theater performance start at $33, with an additional $11 - $44 for the picnic. Tickets go on sale April 1 at melissalewis.art/flowers-and-fog.

About the Artists

Melissa Lewis Wong (they/she) is a queer, Chinese American, dance and drag artist. Wong graduated from the University of San Francisco where they received the Kathileen A. Gallagher Award for performing arts and social justice. Since 2010, Wong has performed with companies and artists including Asian Babe Gang, Aura Fischbeck Dance, Detour, five feet dance, Fog Beast, Funsch Dance Experience, Genevieve Quick, Kim Ip / Krimm's Dance Party, Lenora Lee Dance, Megan Lowe Dances, Peiling Kao Dances, Project Thrust and Rachael Lincoln. Wong's own choreography has been featured at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, SOMArts, CounterPulse's Performing Diaspora Residency, Queering Dance Festival, Joe Goode Annex, Glass Rice Gallery, the Chinese Culture Center and the Chinese Historical Society of America, and the University of San Francisco. In addition to work as a performing artist, they have also worked in arts administration over the last decade. From 2017 – 2020, they ran the sardine, a tiny dance studio. 花和霧 flowers and fog is their first major self-produced performance work. Wong also moonlights as Deuce Lee, a Bruce Lee-inspired drag king, most often at the Make Out Room's monthly Clutch the Pearls drag cabaret.

Joy ChenYu Lewis (she/her) is a singer and performer born in 1949. Lewis fled to Inner Mongolia for five years during China's Cultural Revolution before immigrating to New York City in 1980 to study English and music at the City College of New York and Columbia University. She is an avid gardener, and has worked as a medical interpreter and legal translator for her local Chinese communities for more than three decades. Her memoir, Mongolian Days, will be published in 2025.




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