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'SOUTH OF GOLD MOUNTAIN' - The compelling story of Chinese immigrants who settled in U.S. southern states
H.T. Chen and Dancers
H.T. CHEN & DANCERS IN THE NEW YORK PREMIERE OF
'SOUTH OF GOLD MOUNTAIN'
The compelling story of Chinese immigrants who settled in U.S. southern states,
drawn from rich oral histories, treasured images, and official and private documentation
Thursday-Sunday, October 15-18 (Thursday/Friday/Saturday at 7:30 PM; Sunday at 3 PM)
New York Live Arts, 219 West 19th Street
Tickets: $35 general admission; $18 students/seniors
Reservations: 212.924.0077 or www.newyorklivearts.org/season or at the NYLA box office
The multi-generational cast: Kelly Butterworth, Gary Champi, Stephanie Chun, Dian Dong, Renouard Gee, Ezra Goh, Joanie Johnson, Ari Someya, Keyasha Williams-Bailey, joined by additional dancers and children from the Chen Dance Center
Choreography: H.T. Chen, Dian Dong
Sound Design: James Lo
Lighting Design: Joe Doran
Set Design: Eric Harriz
costume Design: Caprice Esser
"...a moving and engaging choreographic tribute to the few pioneering Chinese immigrants who settled in the American
South starting as early as the end of the Civil War."
John Jung, author/scholar/professor
H.T. Chen & Dancers presents the New York premiere of Chen's major new dance/theater work, South of Gold Mountain, an insightful and impeccably researched choreographic tribute to the thousands of Chinese immigrants who relocated to the United States, many in southern states, hoping to find the "Gold Mountain." The work has received the support of Chinese American community heritage museums and family associations in the U.S., and was created after three years of extensive research and in-depth interviews by Hsueh-Tung Chen and Dian Dong with immigrants and their descendants. Set to a contemporary sound score, along with traditional Chinese music and deep south blues created by Bessie Award winner James Lo, this unique work is an enlightening story of immigration, civil rights, and assimilation. Four performances, October 15-18 at NYLA, 219 West 19th Street.
In 1850, news of "The California Gold Rush" reached southern China even before most Americans had learned of it, and thus began an exodus of 300,000 Chinese immigrants hoping to improve their lives. South of Gold Mountain draws from rich oral histories, treasured images, official and private documentation of Chinese settlers lured to America by the promise of gold and a prosperous life. The production memorializes the struggles of thousands of Chinese-Americans and their legacy, and acknowledges generations of descendants and blended communities now thriving across the U.S.
"We are honored," remarked H.T. Chen, to perform at New York Live Arts, where their focus on social, political and cultural engagement makes it the ideal place for our NYC premiere. Associate Director Dian Dong added: "In presenting this project, we want to pay tribute to our Chinese-American history and legacy. We want to share this celebration of our ancestors' accomplishments with the Chinese-American community as well as those who might not be familiar with Chinese immigration."
The similarities between village life in China and life in the southern U.S. communities was immediately evident, as the immigrants settled in Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi, where most came to work on plantations and farms, and to Augusta, Georgia to widen the Augusta Canal. They were attracted to the delta region because of the same warm weather and fertile land which they knew from China. Many also settled in Texas, where they were allowed to own property. (One of the Company's longtime dancers - Renouard Gee - is from a family that settled in Houston and ran a grocery store.) Due to cultural isolation in their new home, the Chinese kept close bonds with other families, similar to their village life in China. The new arrivals relied heavily on immigrants who had arrived before them to help them endure daily hardships and adjust to the cultural challenges of their adoptive country. Discrimination, racism, and even physical violence were prevalent. Despite rural isolation, the new residents helped to build America by working on railroads, levees, plantations, and as grocers, launderers, and later as restaurant owners.
H.T. Chen & Dancers' production memorializes the struggles of thousands of Chinese-Americans and their legacy. It acknowledges generations of descendants and blended communities now thriving across the U.S. set to a contemporary sound score, along with traditional Chinese music and deep south blues, this vital dance/theater celebration of the first Chinese-American settlements is an enlightening story of immigration, civil rights, and assimilation.
H.T. Chen & Dancers, formed in 1978, presents innovative pieces blending contemporary dance with traditional Asian aesthetics. Chen dance Center was founded in 1988 as the first professional performance space in New York City's Chinatown. The creative hub offers a thriving, community-driven performing arts school, an intimate, black box performance space, and the nation's first Chinese-American contemporary dance company (H.T. Chen & Dancers).
The presentation of South of Gold Mountain at New York Live Arts is made possible through New York Live Arts' Theater Access Program. The Theater Access Program is a comprehensive subsidized rental program benefiting a diverse group of dance and theater companies and producing organizations.
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