1310 Mission St. San Francisco, CA 94103 * Tel. 415.626.2060 * Fax. 415.626.1643 * www.counterpulse.org
For Immediate Release: Dance/Theater
Contact: Shamsher Virk, Communications & Community Relations Manager
415-626-2060 or firstname.lastname@example.org
CounterPULSE Presents as part of the Artist Residency Commissioning program:
Reflections & Pretonically Oriented v.3
World Premieres by Artists in Residence
Lenora Lee Dance and FACT/SF
September 8-11, Thurs-Sun at 8pm
San Francisco, June 2011 — When asked, “Who are you?”, we might answer, “I am Chinese-American” or “I am a dancer”. Buried in these rather concise responses are the layers of formative experiences and historical legacies that led to the construction of an identity. This summer at CounterPULSE, two artists in residence are dissecting the formation of identity and rendering it live, in multidisciplinary performance. In Reflections, Lenora Lee Dance examines the experiences of creating community and sense of place by succeeding generations in Lee’s family and community, beginning with her grandfather, who immigrated through Angel Island in 1922. FACT/SF investigates, with rigorous attention to process, how the creation of a dance work can stand as a metaphor for identity formation in Pretonically Oriented v.3. Both artists are taking their explorations to new depths, continuing projects that Bay Area audiences have sampled and lauded in earlier incarnations.
During the Chinese Exclusion era (1882-1943), San Francisco was referred to by Chinese immigrants as “Gold Mountain”; an auspicious name for a place that promised fortune and opportunity. But before the Mountain stood the “Guardian of the Western Gate” — Angel Island Immigration Station — a foreboding place where immigrants were detained and interrogated, forced upon arrival to contend with the xenophobia and resulting injustice of immigrating to the USA.
Reflections honors the efforts of Lenora Lee’s grandfather to achieve dignity and self-realization within an unjust context; a struggle still endured by Chinese men facing the assimilating pressures of mainstream American culture. Lee’s earlier work, Passages (2010), traced her grandmother’s path to America through Angel Island. With Reflections, the journey encounters new terrain, now exploring the male immigrant experience and the challenges of succeeding generations to create an identity and culture that affirms Chinese Americans’ place in contemporary society. This work is dedicated to three generations of men in the Lee family. Lenora Lee Dance enriches the work in collaboration with Kei Lun Martial Arts & Enshin Karate, South San Francisco Dojo, integrating the community and practice of martial arts. The intimacy, subtlety, and dynamism of these movement forms are brought to the fore with media design by Olivia Ting, music by Francis Wong, videography by Ben Estabrook, and text by Genny Lim. Lee notes, “These forms will represent a symbolic language for struggle, identity, and a journey through emotional landscapes. In this way I hope that the piece will be a moving tribute to our forebears as well as a means toward healing in our communities during these complex times.”
Asian Improv aRts is co-commissioner of Reflections. Community Partners include API Cultural Center, Chinese Historical Society of America Museum, and Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation.
Watch FACT/SF dance and you will see subtlety in the spotlight. The work is front and center — the process of making it is as important as the thematic content. This focus on process heightens the awareness of the observer, magnifying even minute gestures in a choreographic phrase. The body is clearly articulated, its movement is methodically abstracted. It’s a fascinating study of both performer and performance.
With Pretonically Oriented, FACT/SF Artistic Director, Charles Slender “systematically elicits and organizes performer generated material to build a detailed and individualized work”. The rehearsal process that precedes the performance is documented and paralleled with the live presentation. What the audience experiences is performance in dialogue with itself — much like a person in dialogue with their past and present, reconciling the two into a cohesive identity.
Slender sees that, in many performances, “the audience witnesses and experiences the performed choreography, but they remain deprived of the entire rehearsal process.” In a final production, there is the absence of what came before. In linguistics, the “tonic” syllable of a word is the one that is stressed or emphasized when the word is pronounced. As you might have guessed, the “pretonic” syllable comes immediately before that and receives no special emphasis. In Pretonically Oriented, Slender is shifting the focus from the stressed to the unstressed.
What: Reflections & Pretonically Oriented v.3
New Work by Artists in Residence Lenora Lee Dance and FACT/SF
When: Thursday - Sunday, September 8-11 at 8pm
Where: CounterPULSE 1310 Mission Street @ 9th, San Francisco
About the Artists:
Lenora Lee Dance
The mission of Lenora Lee Dance is to give artistic voice to the experiences of Asian Americans through interdisciplinary dance theater works. Lenora Lee (artistic director, choreographer, dancer) is a native San Franciscan and has been creating and performing work since 1998. For the last 13 years she has been an integral part of the San Francisco and New York Asian American contemporary dance and creative music communities, as choreographer, dancer, and Managing Director of Asian American Dance Performances, as dancer and taiko artist with Gen Taiko, as Artistic Director for Lenora Lee Dance, as artist-in-residence at CounterPULSE, the Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Northern California, the Chinatown Beacon Center, and in the SFUSD, and as Project Manager for Asian Improv aRts. She has directed, choreographed, and produced her own works performing nationally and internationally.
Founded in 2008 by Charles Slender, FACT/SF has quickly gathered support, recognition, and an audience for its work, which is steeped in the traditions of dance-theatre, postmodern performance, and contemporary ballet. In just three years, FACT/SF has performed locally 53 times, throughout the entire state during a 173-location tour to every Wal-Mart in California, and in Portland, Oregon at Performance Works NorthWest. The company has supported the creation and presentation of eleven new dance works and has been curated into the SF International Arts Festival, Cal State East Bay’s 2nd Annual Queer Festival, Keith Hennessy’s Queer Performance Marathon, and the National Queer Arts Festival, among others.
CounterPULSE provides space and resources for emerging artists and cultural innovators, serving as an incubator for the creation of socially relevant, community-based art and culture. CounterPULSE acts as a catalyst for art and action; creating a forum for the open exchange of art and ideas, catalyzing transformation in our communities and our society. We work towards a world that celebrates diversity of race, class, cultural heritage, artistic expression, ability, gender identity & sexual orientation. We strive to create an environment that is physically and economically accessible to everyone.
About the Artist Residency Commissioning Program:
The Artist Residency Commissioning Program has evolved in direct response to the needs of artists. It is designed to offer maximum support for experimentation and risk-taking by lifting many of the responsibilities associated with self-production. ARC represents an expansion of CounterPULSE’s decade-long and highly-acclaimed Artist in Residence Program. The program is made possible by support from the Kenneth Rainin Foundation,, the Ken Hempel Fund for the Arts, the Zellerbach Family Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.