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AUDIENCE REVIEW: THEY WILL DANCE AGAIN: Eva Yaa Asantewa on J CHEN PROJECT
J CHEN PROJECT
November 1st 2020 and following
Jessica Chen and her contemporary dance troupe, J CHEN PROJECT, have joined numerous artists finding ways to keep focused and busy during this strange passage called 2020. It’s no surprise to me, really, as I have always known Chen to be determined, resourceful, a fighter for beauty.
With I Can Almost See You, Chen takes her talents into the virtual space of Zoom, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Suitably brief at just under five minutes, this dance film unfolds as a contemporary solo set to a score by Tony Yang. Chieh Hsiung--wearing a white, flouncy tunic and pants with a Chinese sunhat--first meets us at the pandemic-shuttered Joyce Theater in Chelsea. Its marquee’s spare lettering reads: WE WILL DANCE AGAIN. Then, like a particularly vivid apparition--the “you” we can almost see?--Hsiung shows up in some of New York’s most iconic locations. The Brooklyn Bridge. Times Square. Radio City. Central Park. All now empty of tourists.
Hsiung’s pristine costuming, designed by Erica Johnston, makes her stand out against all of these backdrops, while the wide, round hat sometimes obscures her face and hair. At times, she could be any dancer in a city that, no matter what, can only be its unmistakable self. With smooth, subtle blending of movement, Chen celebrates a New York that has always drawn strength from the blending of cultures. It’s a delight to see and feel connections to Broadway’s musical theater dance as well as the influences of Chinese traditional folk dance, ballet and contemporary work.
Chen calls in her memory of dancers and of live dance itself, the spirit of which always seems to find a way to survive in this most challenging of cities in this most neglectful of nations. Filmed and edited by David Burton, I Can Almost See You, is an elegant tribute to dance and a call to its fans to come home when we can safely gather again. We can almost see that happening.
Eva Yaa Asantewaa
J CHEN PROJECT