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inside news about Asians and women on stage

February 2005


TAXI TO JANNAH: Mark Sickman's hilarious new comedy, "Taxi to Jannah" will be presented February 8 - 20 at 59E59 Theaters (Theater B). It is the uproarious and poignant Capra-esque tale of a Muslim cab driver and his quest for the American dream. For tickets, call 212-279-4200 or visit www.ticketcentral.com.

Nasrudin, a devout Muslim taxi driver and charming raconteur, is brimming with Middle-Eastern folk wisdom which he frequently imparts to his colorful array of passengers as he ekes out his daily life while seeking a higher cause. He longs to establish his own mosque and will go to great lengths to do so. We follow him on his journey and cheer for him along the way, yet not even Nasrudin can anticipate what will ensue as he comes closer and closer to his goal.

Can Nasrudin succeed in building a storefront mosque in a derelict storefront church? Can he overcome the resistance of the local mosque hierarchy, the disdain of his father-in-law, the building department, his wife's desire for a new kitchen and his son's basketball dreams? Where will a humble taxi driver find the money for this ambitious project? "Taxi to Jannah" is a bumpy ride to paradise.

Both poet and playwright, Mark Sickman, a Catholic from Missouri, brings us this intriguing and warm portrayal of a Muslim "everyman" who faces obstacle after obstacle in his quest to bring peace and understanding to his fellow man in this turbulent post-9/11 world.

"Taxi to Jannah" has won numerous national playwriting honors including first place in the Xenia National Playwriting Contest and a Silver Medal in the Pinter Prize competition at the University of Tampa. It has been presented as a staged reading in San Francisco, Minneapolis and Kansas City.

The New York production is directed by Donald Douglass with set design by Maruti Evans, lighting design by Shawn W. King, costume design by Desiree Eckert, and sound design by Mike Gonzalez . The cast includes: Regina Bartkoff, Amir Darvish, Christopher Diaz, Amir Khafagy, Jacob C. Mirer, Remy K. Selma and Natasha Williams.

"Taxi to Jannah" was also part of the Queens Theatre in the Park's Immigrant Voices Project, which ran Queens Theatre in the Park February 3-6.

IMMIGRANT'S THEATRE PROJECT: ITP is looking for new participants for its Journey Theatre Project. Founded by Victor Maog and Marcy Arlin in 2002, it became an 8-month collaborative theatre project working with immigrant impacted by 9/11, refugees, and victims of war trauma and torture. Marcy Arlin and playwright Ruth Margraff will continue with a second round of workshops Friday evenings, beginning February 11th, in midtown Manhattan. For more information, call Immigrants' Theatre Project at 718 237 4545 or 347 512 5572 or visit www.immigrantstheat.org.

Workshops include improvisation, physical and vocal warm-ups, theatre games, storytelling, creative and dramatic writing, acting exercises. There is a possibility of a performance in the future. Requirements include: no previous theatre training is necessary, be over 16 years old, regular attendance, ability to work in a multicultural environment, and good understanding of English, though fluency is not necessary. The workshops are FREE - they will meet every Friday evening from 6:00-8:30. Meetings are alternately in midtown Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Previous participants were from Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Colombia, Guyana, India, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Puero Rico/Brooklyn (8 are returning). Professional actors Nilaja Sun, Andrew Guilarte, Piter Fattouche, and Adriana Gaviria were brought in to work on the performance piece and some served as guest-lecturers during the workshop.

THE FEMALE HEART: Diverse City Theater Company will present the inaugural production of Linda Faigao Hall's The Female Heart" at Theatre Row's The
Clurman Theatre Feb. 24 - March 13. Set in the late 1980's, The Female Heart tells the story of two siblings - Anghel and Adelfa - living in "Smokey Mountain," the infamous mountain of garbage outside Manila. Directed by Jamie Richards, Ching Valdes Aran stars. For tickets, call 212-279-4200 or visit www.ticketcentral.com. For more info about Diverse City Theater Company, visit www.diversecitytheater.org.

The play is about when Anghel, the elder sibling, succumbs to a life- threatening disease, Adelfa, his sister, decides to become a mail-order bride to a man from Brooklyn who is willing-at a price-to support her family and pay for Anghel's medical expenses. It is in America where she discovers how poverty corrupts and absolute poverty corrupts absolutely.

Linda Faigao Hall, the playwright, earned a National Endowment for the Arts award for her play, Iron Men. In The Female Heart, she examines the legacy of the Marcos administration, whose decades of plunder and inequality deprived hundreds of men and women-like Anghel and Adelfa-of the chance to leave the garbage dump.

Obie Award recipient Ching Valdes Aran, who took part in the play's workshop production at EST, is confirmed to play Rosario, the mother of Anghel and Adelfa. Ms. Valdes Aran is noted for her performances in Ralph Pena's Flipzoids and as Imelda Marcos in Jessica Hagedorn's Dogeaters at The Public Theater, directed by Michael Greif. Her other critically acclaimed stage performances include lead roles in The Square at The Public Theatre, Last of the Suns, Erendira, The House of Bernarda Alba, Mother Courage and Medea.

Diverse City Theater Co. Inc., is an independent not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that focuses on promoting diversity in the theater arts. Its mission is to commission, develop and produce original plays that portray social, cultural, lifestyle and demographic diversity, thereby creating multiculturally fluent theater audiences as well as advocate the non-traditional casting of actors.

ATW'S WORKING IN THE THEATRE: The American Theatre Wing "Working In The Theatre" Seminars continue this New Year with another on Thursday, February 10th. This theatre season, on a new set and in a new larger facility, the popular "Working in the Theatre" Seminars have been expanded. The American Theatre Wing (Sondra Gilman, Chairman of the Board; Douglas Leeds, President and Howard Sherman, Executive Director) through its many programs remains dedicated to supporting and servicing the community through theatre and building audiences for the future. The Wing Seminars continue to provide a unique, enlightening, behind-the-scenes theatrical experience with the star-studded panels comprised of Broadway and Off-Broadway's major theatre personalities. The ATW Seminars continue to provide some of the most entertaining and informative discussions on theatre today. www.americantheatrewing.org/video-WIT.ph

Scheduled to speak include Tisa Chang, artistic/producing director, Pan Asian Repertory ; Virginia Louloudes, executive director, Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York ; Eduardo Machado, artistic director, Intar; James Nicola, artistic director, New York Theatre Workshop ; Neil Pepe, artistic director, Atlantic Theatre Company. Moderator is Thomas Cott. The Seminar will be held at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, 365 Fifth Ave and 34th Street in the Elebash Recital Hall..

For tickets, call CUNY (212) 817-8215 - $10 per ticket. ATW members can reserve free of charge through the Wing. Tickets will be distributed to holders of reservations beginning one hour prior to each seminar and no later than 15 minutes before the scheduled start. Participants subject to change.

Rinko-Gun Theater Company

RINKO-GUN THEATER: The Rinko-gun Theater Company, one of Japan's most politically radical theater companies presents "Yaneura (Attic)," the award-winning, darkly comic original work from playwright and director Yoji Sakate. After twenty years of refining their aesthetic in Japanese realism through works that aim to heighten social awareness, Rinko-gun has also become known in its native Japan for first-time Japanese translations of renowned scripts from abroad, such as the off-Broadway plays Charlie Victor Romeo, 2.5 Minute Ride, The Laramie Project and The Exonerated. Performances of Yaneura (Attic) run Thursday-Saturday, February 10-12 at 7:30 pm. For tickets, call 212-752-3015 or visit www.japansociety.org.

Performed in a claustrophobic 4-meter-wide set, "Yaneura (Attic)" takes an incisive look at the recently growing social issue in Japan called hikikomori. The term, which literally translates as "withdrawn," refers to people whose obsessions or disconnection from society have led them to cocoon themselves in their rooms and refuse any contact with the outside world except through the internet. This explosive play winds through the weird, ridiculous and profound, exposing strange and intimate details from the secret underbelly of contemporary Japanese culture. The play is performed in Japanese with English titles.

"Yaneura (Attic)" is the recipient of numerous awards including the Yomiuri Newspaper's Literature Award, Kinokuniya Theater Award and Yomiuri Theater Award for Best Director. The program is presented as part of the Society-wide season theme Cool Japan: Otaku Takes Over!, which delves into the Japanese subculture known as otaku, a term now creeping into Western vocabulary coined in the late 1980s to describe people whose obsessions with something-usually video games, anime or internet chat rooms-have led them to peculiar lifestyles or worldviews.

Rinko-gun Theater Company, founded by Japanese playwright and director Yoji Sakate in 1983, has created an esteemed body of original work that tackles a wide variety of controversial social and political issues, including the Japanese trial system, the Okinawa/American military base controversy, Japanese activism, the emperor system, homosexuality, the emergence and influence of religious cults, nationalism and censorship after WWII, as well as the use/actions of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. With Rinko-gun Sakate has produced such plays as Coming Out (1988), The Tokyo Trial (1988), A Dangerous Story (1988), the prestigious Kishida Kunio Award winner Breathless (1990), Epitaph for the Whales (1993), and Capital of the Kingdom of the Gods (1993), which toured throughout the U.S. and Europe. Japan Society produced Rinko-gun's U.S. debut tour in 1998 with Capital of the Kingdom of Gods. The production was received by great acclaim in New York and all of its touring cities including Highland Heights, KY; New Orleans, LA; and Pensacola, FL.

A prolific playwright and award-winning director Yoji Sakate was the recipient of a fellowship from the Asian Cultural Council in 1999, for which he was invited to a residency in New York for nine months. During his stay the English translation of his play Epitaph for the Whales received a staged reading at La Mama. Since then, his and his company's collaborations with international artists and companies have been numerous. Artists from the U.S. and Indonesia collaborated on Whalers in the South Sea (2000); Sakate worked directly with New York's Collective Unconscious on the Japanese premiere of the Drama Desk Award-winning Charlie Victor Romeo; and more recently, Rinko-gun staged the Japanese premiere of Mario Fratti's Blindness. Many of Sakate's plays have been translated into English and have been staged as a reading at such venues as Palace Theatre in Louisiana; several readings of Yaneura (Attic) are slated in conjunction with its U.S. tour. Most recently, Sakate was awarded this year's Asahi Newspaper Theater Arts Award.

YOKASTAS REDUX: "YokastaS Redux" is the completion of Richard Schechner's Yokasta project, to be presented by La MaMa in its Annex Theater February 17 to 27. It is a completely different version of a play, which had a preliminary production in March-April, 2003, presented by La MaMa in its First Floor Theater. Performed by East Coast Artists, it is co-authored by Schechner and Romanian playwright Saviana Stanescu and is directed by Schechner. La MaMa is located at 74A East Fourth Street. For tickets, call
212-475-7710, or visit www.lamama.org.

Richard Schechner, who rose to prominence by deconstructing another Greek myth with "Dionysus in 69," explains that he has always been intrigued by the myth of Yokasta because she is such an important figure in the Greek tragedy -- but she is under-represented onstage. Schechner describes Yokasta as one of the "incomplete" figures of Greek myth, with no play of her own in the classical Greek canon. (However, she figures prominently in Stravinsky's opera, "Oedipus," and in a 16th century play by George Gascoigne.) Schechner asked, What if Yokasta never committed suicide? This and other "what if's" led him to the notion of filling in her life by portraying her in several stages of it. With this as the starting point, Schechner invited the collaboration of Romanian playwright Saviana Stanescu and the actors of East Coast Artists. They began writing and workshopping in 2003.

The play moves through time, portraying Yokasta, mother of Oedipus, at four different ages, played by four different actresses. Yokasta is presented as an optimistic teen, an angry young woman, a happily married woman, and an older woman who makes rounds of talk shows telling the hosts about her famous life and complaining that nobody has written a play about her. The effect is a multi-faceted play contrasting tragedy, irony, sexuality, murder, and intellect. "YokastaS" juxtaposes the innocence of girlhood with the brutality of women's fate in history. "Each Yokasta has her own experience," says Schechner, "like Rashomon."

Breaking Yokasta into four characters enabled Schechner and Stanescu to present aspects of the Yokasta myth as they imagine it might have evolved over time. In "YokastaS Redux," we see Yokasta as if through a prism, broken out into her various components. Yoyo, age 14, represents the hope of the future. She insists she will not live the life that is fated for her. Yoko, ages from 18 to 30, enacts the night when she had to surrender Oedipus after birthing him. Angry at Laius, she takes her revenge in many different ways, including murdering all their male children. Yono, a woman in her late thirties, never looks back. She is the perfect wife to Oedipus. She loves him, has four kids with him, and helps train him to be the perfect king. Finally, there is Yokasta, around 55, who has seen it all and makes the rounds of talk shows. She is cynical, fun and wise. Often these Yokastas are on stage together - helping each other act out key scenes from their lives.

The characters are contemporary, as is most of the language. One actor plays all the male roles: Laius, Oedipus, and TV talk show hosts. The tone of the production swings from the emotional and tragic to the ironic - with lots of references to pop culture. One scene depicts a talk show where the Yokastas argue who is "tragedy's baddest mama." They quote from Euripides' "Phaedra" and "Medea," Sophocles' "Oedipus Rex," and Seneca's "Oedipus."

Emphasizing the intrusiveness of our electronic age, the outside world is not fenced out of this show, but deliberately allowed to interrupt it. The show will begin with a statement by the stage manager that tells the audience and the actors to leave their cell phones on. The play will actually stop if anybody's cellphone rings.

The production includes a slide show by Ryan Jensen depicting the first night when Oedipus arrives in Thebes and is given a "royal bath" by Yokasta. The actors include both long-time East Coast Artists performers and newcomers to the company. Daphne Gaines* portrays Yokasta, Rachel Bowditch* is Yono, Phyllis Johnson* is Yoko, Jennifer Lim* appears as Yoyo, and Sarah Kozinn plays Understudy - a Yokasta in the making. Christopher Logan Healy* plays the male roles of Laius, Oedipus, and The Media. (*=appearing through the courtesy of Actors' Equity Association.) The play has been completely rewritten and workshopped a number of times since its 2003 La MaMa production. Only Rachel Bowditch and Christopher Logan Healey remain from the '03 cast.

Co-author Saviana Stanescu is a prominent Romanian writer and author of six books of poetry and drama, including an English-Romanian anthology, "Black Milk," and a French translation of "Final Countdown." She is a recipient of Romania's National Award for Best Play of 1999 for "The Inflatable Apocalypse." She is a Fullbright scholar and holds a MFAs in playwriting and an MA in performance studies - both from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. "YokastaS" and "YokastaS Redux" comprise her U.S. and English language playwriting debut.

Richard Schechner, University Professor and Professor of Performance Studies at the Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, was the founding director in 1967 of The Performance Group, which he headed until 1980. He has dealt with the myth of Oedipus and Yokasta once before, in his own version of Seneca's "Oedipus" in Ted Hughes' translation. Schechner became famous as director of "Dionysus in 69," "Mother Courage and her Children," Sam Shepard's "The Tooth of Crime" and Genet's "The Balcony." He founded East Coast Artists as a resident company of La MaMa in 1992 in order to develop younger talents and attempt once again to form a true ensemble repertory theater company. With ECA, Schechner has directed "Faust/Gastronome" (1993), "Three Sisters" (1997), and "Hamlet" (2000).

A Schechner Center will open in Shanghai, China in March, 2005, dedicated to researching ritual and experimental performance, introducing Performance Studies to China, and developing new collaborative artistic works. The Center will present Schechner's retake of "Hamlet" in 2006. This will be the first professional production with actors from the Mainland, Hong Kong, and Taiwan working collaboratively on a single project. At present, Schechner and Stanescu are working with the novelist Paul Auster in developing a stage version of Auster's "Timbuktu," to be staged by ECA in 2006.

Jose Llana inSpelling Bee

THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE: "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" will open Feb. 7 at the Second Stage Theatre at 307 West 43rd Street. With music and lyrics by Tony Award-winner William Finn, book by Rachel Sheinkin, conceived by Rebecca Feldman, and directed by Tony Award-winner James Lapine, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee will have choreography by Dan Knechtges; musical direction by Vadim Feichtner; and orchestrations by Michael Starobin. Six young people on the edge of puberty strive to become adults in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee - the funny, tender, sardonic musical by the composer of Falsettos. These outsiders use competition to define themselves, apart from their crazy families, while their struggle to escape childhood is overseen by grown-ups who never completely succeeded in escaping it themselves. The production is scheduled to run through Sunday, March 6th. For tickets, call 212-246-4422 or 800-766-6048, or visit www.secondstagetheatre.com.

"The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" will feature Derrick Baskin as Mitch Mahoney, the Bee's official comfort counselor; Korean American Deborah S. Craig as contestant Marcy Park, who proudly speaks six languages; Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Leaf Coneybear, second runner up in the Putnam Basin district and one of this year's last-minute alternatives; Dan Fogler as William Barfee, who made it to the finals last year, but had to be eliminated for health-related reasons; Lisa Howard as Guidance Counselor Rona Lisa Peretti, longtime local hostess of the Bee (9 years running); Celia Keenan-Bolger as Olive Ostrovsky, whose mother is on a three-year spiritual quest in India and whose Dad is running late; Jose Llana as Chip Tolentino, last year's county champion; Jay Reiss as Douglas Panch, Vice Principal of Lake Hemingway-Dos Passos Junior High; and Sarah Saltzberg as Logan Schwarzandgrubeniere, representing the Brewster Magnet Program for the gifted and unusual.

William Finn is the writer and composer of Falsettos, for which he received two Tony Awards, for Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score. He has also written and composed In Trousers (which played at Second Stage Theatre during the company's 1980/81 season), March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland (Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, two Los Angeles Drama Critics' Awards, two Drama Desk Awards, the Lucille Lortel Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship in Playwriting). His most recent works, A New Brain and Elegies: A Song Cycle, premiered at Lincoln Center Theater.

Book writer Rachel Sheinkin's recent collaborations include Notes Across a Small Pond (Bridewell Theatre, London), Striking 12: The GrooveLily Holiday Show (Old Globe, San Diego and Prince Music Theatre, Philadelphia), Blood Drive Permutations (Eugene O'Neill National Music Theater Conference), and Serenade (Daryl Roth New Voices/New Musicals First Look Series). In recent years she's taught playwriting at the National Theater Institute and had writing residencies at the MacDowell Colony, TheatreWorks and Manhattan Theatre Club. She is currently an adjunct faculty member at NYU's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.

Director James Lapine collaborated with William Finn on the Off-Broadway shows March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland, later produced together on Broadway as Falsettos (Tony Award), and on A New Brain for Lincoln Center Theater. He collaborated with Stephen Sondheim as both librettist and director on the Broadway productions of Passion (Tony Award), Into the Woods (Tony Award), and Sunday in the Park With George (Pulitzer Prize). On Broadway, he directed Claudia Shear's Dirty Blonde, which he co-conceived; the revival of The Diary of Anne Frank; and David Henry Hwang's Golden Child.

Rebecca Feldman (Conceiver) directed and performed in the previous incarnation of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, entitled Crepuscule, at the Present Company Theatorium in New York. For the past seven years, Feldman has been directing new plays by emerging playwrights at such venues as NYC Fringe Festival, New Dramatists, Sanford Meisner, Ohio Theatre, Access Theatre and House of Candles.

Second Stage Theatre celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2004. Founded in 1979 under the leadership of Artistic Director Carole Rothman, Second Stage Theatre produces a diverse range of premieres and new interpretations of America's best contemporary theatre, including Tiny Alice by Edward Albee, The Good Times Are Killing Me by Lynda Barry, Little Murders by Jules Feiffer, Painting Churches and Coastal Disturbances by Tina Howe, Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants and On The Stem by Ricky Jay, Living Out by Lisa Loomer, This Is Our Youth and The Waverly Gallery by Kenneth Lonergan, Afterbirth: Kathy & Mo's Greatest Hits by Kathy Najimy and Moe Gaffney, Saturday Night by Stephen Sondheim, Crowns by Regina Taylor, Uncommon Women and Others by Wendy Wasserstein, Spoils of War by Michael Weller, Before It Hits Home and Jar the Floor by Cheryl L. West, Jitney by August Wilson, Lemon Sky, Serenading Louie, and Sympathetic Magic by Lanford Wilson, and Metamorphoses and The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci by Mary Zimmerman. The company's more than 125 citations include the 2002 Tony Award for Best Director of a Play (Mary Zimmerman for Metamorphoses), the 2002 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Body of Work, 23 OBIE Awards, 4 Outer Critics Circle Awards, 2 Clarence Derwent Awards, 9 Drama Desk Awards, 5 Theatre World Awards, 9 Lucille Lortel Awards, the Drama Critics Circle Award, and 11 AUDELCO awards.

BENEFIT VAGINA MONOLOGUES: V-Day NYC, in association with Double Helix Theatre Company, is proud to present three benefit performances of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues as part of V-Day 2005's Worldwide Campaign. All proceeds will go
to three diverse local charities which provide support for victims of domestic violence; Sanctuary for Families, The New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, and New York Asian Women's Center. The fully staged performances will take place February 25 & 26 at 8pm at The Blue Heron Arts Center (123 East 24th Street), and February 24 at 8pm at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (307 West 26th Street), both in NYC.

V-Day was born in 1998 as an outgrowth of Eve Ensler's Obie Award-winning play, The Vagina Monologues, a poignant piece about female sexuality in all its complexity, vulnerability, and humor. When playwright Eve Ensler first began performing The Vagina Monologues, audiences throughout the United States were deeply moved by her monologues about violence against women. Countless women reached out to Ms. Ensler, leading her to resolve to do everything possible to stop violence against women. She joined up with a group of women in New York and founded V-Day, whose mission is to raise awareness and money through creative events. For V-Day 2004, over two thousand events were presented around the world, educating literally millions of people about the ongoing plight of women in every country.

Director Elizabeth Griffin acknowledges, "With the V-Day NYC production of The Vagina Monologues, featuring women from all backgrounds, I want to bring out the wit and humor that is inherent in the play. Through laughter the audience can engage in a dialogue that will hopefully inspire them to join the fight to end violence against women. I'm especially eager for my female peers in their twenties to become more aware of their vulnerability so that they'll be less likely to become victims of violence themselves."

The cast of twenty women features five members of The Upright Citizens Brigade including UCB member Jackie Clarke (Respecto Montalban, Village Voice Best of NYC), Rae Toledo (Miss Saigon National Tour) and Tarajia Morrell (Mrs. Farnsworth at The Flea Theater). The Executive Producer is Ryan Barlow. Additionally, there will be a celebrity-filled V-Day NYC fundraising event at The Cutting Room (19 West 24th Street) on February 10 at 6:30pm. To learn more about V-Day NYC, e-mail the organization at vdaynyc@gmail.com or visit them on the web at www.vdaynyc.com.

Tickets for the Blue Heron Arts Center, NYC at 123 East 24th Street (between Park &
Lexington Avenues) on February 25 & 26, 2005 at 8pm, call 212-352-3101 or visit
www.theatermania.com/content/show.cfm/show/109334. Tickets for the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, NYC at 307 West 26th Street (between 8th & 9th Avenues) on February 24, 2005 at 8pm, visit www.ucbtheatre.com/schedule/showdetails.php?showid=641.
Info only at 212-366-9176.

AKIM FUNK BUDDHA: Hip Hop meets Cirque de Soleil style movement theater in "Amazulu: Dance As A Weapon: The Hip Hop Circus Part I" by Akim Funk Buddha will run through Feb. 20 at the La MaMA Theatre at 74A East Fourth Street. The production is his "personal cosmic story" of Hip Hop as unveiled through a multi-cultural stage performance with Beat Boxing, Martial Arts/Kung Fu, Free Style Dance, African style percussion, MCs, B-boying (break dancing) and more. The story is a journey through indigenous hip hop movements and music from Asia to the Southern African Zulu lands to the "other lands" of today. Akim Funk Buddha seeks to unveil the common thread that lies between cultures and to link the past to the present. "In Amazulu: dance As A Weapon," he employs a combination of language based and movement theater to create a meditative multidisciplinary performance art piece that explores the urban and ancient Diasporas and how they move through each other and inform the contemporary Urban Hip Hop movement. For tickets, call 212-475-7710 or visit www.lamama.org.

The aim is to create an urban cosmic environment using movement, projections, light and sound. The score will be "Ethnic Hyp Hop notice" sounds consisting of throat singing, beat boxing, voice, chants and emceeing/rhyming. Akim Funk Buddha will perform freestyle rhyme, spoken word, beat boxing, throat singing, and vocalization over hip hop rhythms and textures. El Raka (aka Erika Banks) will weave vocal opera like lines in the mix. Kuzuma Motomura will add his spoken word, and Hired Gun of ESP and Third Party will emcee. Yuki Nakajima will provide video projection of animated images that will intertwine with the movement on stage.

Akim Funk Buddha, aka Akim Ndlovu has recently appeared at Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival, the Blue Note, Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bric Studio, BAMcafe and World Financial Center's Winter Garden. He was born in Syracuse, New York and raised in Zimbabwe, which is his cultural homeland. He began dancing and song writing/rhyming at the age of nine. Akim can back to New York in 1990. Inspired by his surroundings, he was motivated to find a creative way to live and began performing in New York City Parts and streets. He taught himself how to stand still without blinking, story telling, tap dancing and Mongolian throat singing. In 1992 he and his brother moved permanently to Merica and cut their first hit album, "Zimbabwe Legit," a mix of African lyrics and beats with Hip Hop. In 1995 he helped create a performance group, "The Nomadic Lotus," which appeared in clubs, theaters and cafes. He won the Harlem Arts Theater Poetry Slam twice in 1998 and the PS122 Dance Contest in 1999. On TV, he has appeared on "The David Letterman Show," "Sesame Street" and "The Chris Rock Show", among others. In the past six years he has traveled to Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bali and France to explore and study dance, striving to bring light to cultural parallels. In 1998 he formed a world hip hop band/performance troupe, "Dha Fuzion." He has been Youth Program Coordinator at Center for Contemplative Mind, Northamption, MA and Founding Director of Urban Affairs Department at Projectile Arts, Brooklyn, NY. He has taught and shared movement workshops in universities in USA, temples in Thailand. He currently teaches unorthodox voice and chant workshops in Manhattan.


PEKING OPERA: Direct from China, the Peking Opera comes to New York for its United States debut performing the traditional opera, "The Monkey King Attacks on the White Bone Demon." The Beijing Opera Theater of Hubei is one of the leading Peking Opera Companies in China winning praise from the critics for "brilliant singing and dancing, winning numerous national and international awards. Pleasing to Opera fans of all ages." (Times of London) The Peking Opera performance will be held at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, Saturday, February 19, 8PM and Sunday, February 20, 2PM and 7PM. For tickets, call tickets: 212-721-6500, Group Discount 917-319-8856.
The Monkey King is one of the most popular opera characters in China. The fans really enjoy this intelligent and resourceful character, whose name is Sun Wukong. Buddhist monk San Zang, known as Tang Seng, and his three acolytes, monkey spirit Sun Wukong, pig spirit Zhu Bajie, and river spirit Sha Seng who are on a pilgrimage to the Western Paradise to obtain scriptures from the Buddha. Along the way, they are faced with ten thousand trails to prove their worthiness. Fortunately, Sun Wukong has supernatural vision which, allows him to recognize demons in any form, and powers that enable him to protect his master from all harm

YING QUARTET: Pianist Christopher Taylor and the Ying Quartet will perform Brahms's dramatic Piano Quintet alongside the Piano Quintets of Webern and Lieberson on Thursday, Feb. 10, 8PM, at Columbia University's Miller Theatre Pianist Christopher Taylor-whose last performance at Miller Theatre was named one of "The Best Performances of 2004" by The New York Times-joins the Ying Quartet to perform Brahms's Piano Quintet alongside the Piano Quintets of Webern and Lieberson. In his famous essay "Brahms the Progressive," composer Arnold Schoenberg argued that Brahms- traditionally regarded as a conservative composer by posterity-was in fact a prophet of modernism. Taking Schoenberg's provocative claim as a starting point, this new Miller series juxtaposes Brahms' forward-looking works with 20th-Century masterworks that have remarkable sonic connections to him. Was Brahms the prophet Schoenberg painted him to be? The program includes Brahms: Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 34, Webern: Piano Quintet, and Lieberson: Piano Quintet.

KYOKO TAKEZAWA: Violinist Kyoko Takezawa will play with the Orchestra of St. Luke on Thursday, Feb. 10, 8PM at Carnegie Hall. She will perform Vaughan Williams's "The Lake Ascending," as well as Beethoven's "Romance No. 2 for Violin and Orchestra in F Major, Op. 50." Donald Runnicles conducts. The program also include Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 and James MacMillan's Symphony No. 2. For tickets, call CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800 or visit www.carnegiehall.org.

SHOTA NAKANO: On Feb. 9, pianist Shota Nakano will play in "A Musical Love Triangle - The Music of Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms" with pianist Jeffrey Siegel at the 92nd Street Y. The program includes Brahmns' Allegro from Sonata No. 2 in F sharp minor, Op. 2, Intermezzo in E flat minor, Op. 118, No. 6, Rhapsody in E flat Major, Op. 119, No. 4, Clara Schumann's Romance in G minor, Op. 11, No. 2, Romance in G minor, Op. 21, No. 3 and Robert Schumann's Widmung, Op. 25, No. 1, Knecht Ruprecht, Op. 68, No.12, Traumerei, Op. 15, No. 7, and Novelette, Op. 21, No. 1. For tickets, call 212-415-5500 or visit www.92Y.org.

Shota Nakano was born in 1984. He began studying music in 1988 and began studying piano at the age of five with Hiroko Edo and Alexander Mndoyants. In 199, Nakano won the first prize of the 50th annual Student Music Competition of Japan. In 1998, he performed at the Japanese Embassy in Washington D.C., and was introduced to Yoheved Kaplinsky of the Juilliard School. He has played with various orchestras, including NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra, Yomiuri Symphony Orchestra, New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, Lehigh valley Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra d'Archi Italiana and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, under leading conductors Mstislav Rostropovich, Charles Dutoit, Matthias Bamert and Seiji Ozawa, among others. He has given several recitals in the US, France and Japan. His awards and honors include The Salon De Virtuosi Sony Fellowship Grant, The Yasuda Life Cultural Foundation Grant and the Ezoe Scholarship Society Foundation Grant. He is studying under Yoheved Kaplinsky at the Juilliard School.

TOKYO STRING QUARTET: The Tokyo String Quartet, in residence at the 92nd Street Y for the second of three seasons, continues this season's "Immigrant Composers" series on Saturday, Feb. 12, 8PM. The Quartet performs Zemlinsky's String Quartet NO. 4, Op. 25, Wuite, and Haydn's String Quartet No. 3 in G minor, Op. 74, The Rider. The ensemble is joined by Tara Helen O'Connor, flute and piccolo, Alan R. Kay, clarinet, and Frank Morelli, bassoon, for Eislers rarely heard Septet No. 2, Circus. For tickets, call 212-415-5500 or visit www.92Y.org.

The Tokyo String Quartet has captivated audiences and critics alike since it was founded more than 30 years ago. Regarded as one of the supreme chamber ensembles of the world, the quartet's members are: violist Kazuhide Isomura, a founding member of the group; second violinist Kikuei Ikeda, who joined the ensemble in 1974, cellist Clive Greensmith, former Principal Cellist of London's Royal Philharmonic, who joined in 1999, and first violinist Martin Beaver, who joined the ensemble in 2002. Officially formed in 1969 at the Juilliard School of Music, the quartet traces its origins to the Toho School of Music in Tokyo, where the founding members were profoundly influenced by Professor Hideo Saito. Soon after its creation, the quartet won First Prize at the Coleman Competition the Munich Competition and the Young Concert Artists International Auditions. An exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon firmly established it as one of the world's leading quartets, and it has since released more than 30 landmark recordings. The ensemble now records on the Harmonia Mundi label. The Tokyo Quartet has served on the faculty of the Yale School of Music as quartet in residence since 1976. The musicians also regularly participate in master classes throughout North America, Europe and Japan. The Tokyo String Quartet performs on "the Paganini Quartet," a group of renowned Stradivarius instruments named for legendary virtuoso Niccolo Paganini, who acquired and played them during the 19th century. The instruments have been loaned to the ensemble by the Nippon Music Foundation since 1995, when they were purchased from the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The Tokyo String Quartet itself is an ensemble of immigrants and world travelers. Violinist Kikuei Ikeda and Kzuhide Isomura are Japanese, violinist Martin Beaver is Canadian and cellist Clive Greensmith is British. They bring their own experience to bear on the music of composers who also settled or worked in foreign countries and participated in the inevitable exchange of cultural perspectives.


MAYA: The award-winning Indian/US production of "Maya" makes its long overdue theatrical debut in the US, beginning its run on Feb 4 in New York. It is being screened as part of the Asian Cinevisions monthly film series, a national showcase for Asian and Asian American films. "Maya", first Runner-up in the People's Choice Award at the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival and a favorite at numerous film festivals, is a searing portrait of a ritual of child abuse, a tradition that is banned but still practiced in rural India. It follows the eponymous character, a 12-year-old girl who lives with her aunt and uncle and same-age cousin, Sanjay, in an unnamed village. Her life begins to unravel when she experiences her first period. Her relatives and parents set about preparing for a holy ceremony to mark her initiation into womanhood. The day approaches as the whole village gathers together to feast and celebrate the ritual. Maya is slowly led to the temple where one by one, the local priests take turns to "bless" her in a deflowering rite of passage. In New York, "Maya" will play at the Museum of Moving Image on Feb 4, 7.30pm, and Cinema Village on Feb 9, 7.30pm. It will go on to engagements at other venues throughout the US. For more info, call 212-989-1422 or visit www.asiancinevision.

"Maya" marks an assured directorial debut from Digvijay Singh, who won the Emerging Director award at the 2002 Asian American International Film Festival in New York. Like the recent Moolaadé (2004) by the great Senegalese director Ousmane Sembène, the film does not shy away nor sensationalize the ritual. Digvijay Singh treats it so matter-of-factly that the devastation becomes all the more startling. Yet this is also a film about humanity and human resilience. Singh has coaxed convincing and understated performances out of the two child actors, Nitya Shetty ("Maya") and Nikhil Yadav ("Sanjay").

"Asian Cinevisions" is a pioneering monthly film series that aims to showcase Asian and Asian American films. These films, which inexplicably fall under the radar in the US, capture the diversity and richness of the Asian global experience. They will make their US theatrical premieres with the series and travel to cities across the country. Asian CineVision, Inc. (ACV) is a not-for-profit national media arts membership organization established in 1976 in New York City. ACV is dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Asian and Asian American media expressions through helping to develop and support both emerging and experienced Asian American film and video makers and other media artists working in a range of genres and styles; and helping to ensure that the full spectrum of Asian and Asian Americans media works reach diverse audiences in Asian American communities and beyond.

FILM COMMENT SELECTS: The Film Society of Lincoln Center's 5th annual "Film Comment Selects" serves up February 9-24, a brilliant and eclectic mix of new films at the Walter Reade Theater. These films were championed in the pages of Film Comment magazine over the past year. This edition will present the New York premieres of cutting-edge movies from France, Japan, Iran, Argentina, Israel, Australia, and Germany, as well as three films that were pivotal in the magazine's November/December special issue on New Korean cinema. French actress Bulle Ogier, subject of an article in the March/April issue, will appear to introduce two of her films, Jacques Rivette's Le Pont du Nord and Maitresse, on Saturday, February 19. One of the country's oldest and most prestigious film journals, Film Comment is published bi-monthly by the Film Society of Lincoln Center. The Walter Reade Theater is located at 165 W. 65th St., plaza level. For tickets and info, call 212-875-5600 or visit www.filmlinc.com.

Films by Asian directors or featuring Asian actors include: "Old Boy," by Park Chan-wook, Korea, 2003. "Cannes 2004 served up "Old Boy," a state-of-the-art helping of Extreme Asian hyperpulp, which was awarded the festival's Grand Prize. In this high-concept manga adaptation, already set to be remade in Hollywood (by Justin Lin), a defiantly antisocial misfit (Choi Min-suk) finds himself enmeshed in an infernally baroque mind-bender. He's kidnapped, incarcerated in a mocked-up apartment, framed for murder, brainwashed, and put on a diet of shrimp dumplings and nonstop TV - and that's just in the first reel. Choi stays sane (more or less) by transforming himself into a rage-filled, revenge-ready one-man army. Park keeps the twists coming and handles the kick-ass set pieces with droll flair, steadily building to a denouement whose perversity is worthy of Jacobean tragedy." - Gavin Smith, Film Comment, Jul/Aug 04. A Tartan Films release. WED FEB 9: 4 & 9

"Clean, :Olivier Assayas, France, 2004. "Maggie Cheung has rarely looked so bad and hurt so good as in Clean, Olivier Assayas's film about a junkie struggling to kick. A tough look at addiction - its seductions, stratagems, and self-immolating logic - the film stars Cheung as the wife and would-be manager of a faded rock star. When her husband overdoses, she finds herself without money, friends, and facing a prison term. After parole, she hits the road, eventually landing in Paris, where she tries to rebuild her life inch by inch. Slowly, as Assayas peels away his protagonist's protective covering, revealing the all-too-human creature beneath the spit and poses, we understand that - as with many of his other films - Clean is a portrait of aching loneliness, of a radical disconnection." - Manohla Dargis, Film Comment, Jul/Aug 04. A Palm Pictures film.
WED FEB 9: 6:30

"At Five in the Afternoon? Panj e Asr", Samira Makmalbaf, Iran, 2003. "Samira Makmalbaf goes the allegorical route with her film about present-day Afghanistan. She is still working in the same vein as her filmmaker-father Mohsen, but Samira has a much lighter touch. She effortlessly sets up the social structure of contemporary Kabul from the point of view of Noqueh (Agheleh Rezaie), a young woman hungry for education. The film then veers into tragedy, despair, and renunciation as Norqueh wanders off into the desert, her baby nephew and her father in tow. Contemporarily relevant and captured with thrilling, heart-catching immediacy, At Five in the Afternoon is remarkable for the complex, heart-rending performances Makmalbaf coaxes out of her cast of non-actors." - Kent Jones, Film Comment, Jul/Aug 03 THURS FEB 10: 4; SAT FEB 12: 2; MON FEB 14: 6:15.

"Vital", Shinya Tsukamoto, Japan, 2004. Shinya Tsukamoto's latest film is at once one of his oddest, at least on a conceptual level, and perhaps his most nuanced. The ubiquitous Tadanobu Asano (who could be doing anything next - why not The Merchant of Venice? or a biography of Lincoln?) plays a young medical student who has lost the memory of his own name and past but none of his intellectual capacity. He remembers in stages: first, that he was in a car accident; second, that his girlfriend was in the car with him; third, that it's her body he's dissecting in class. Perhaps the only film you'll see this year in which pathology is offered as a form of therapy. A Tartan Films release. THURS FEB 10: 6:15; SAT FEB 12: 6:45.

"Izo", Takashi Miike, Japan, 2004. Takashi Miike's new symphony of violence, Izo, featuring Takeshi Kitano, will not disappoint his fans. Izo is an angel of death traveling through Japanese history, leaving a trail of blood behind him. "While crisscrossing several centuries he slaughters thousands of victims on the road to deliverance built on the suffering of others. Positively outrageous even by Miike standards, it's a genuinely disturbing film and so packed with invention and ideas that you're constantly dazzled, exhilarated, and in the end, actually enlightened. And I haven't even mentioned the talking flowers or the howling singer-songwriter serving as Greek chorus." - Olaf Möller, Film Comment, Nov/Dec 04. FRI FEB 11: 1:30; SAT FEB 12: 4:15 & 8:30.

"Turtles Can Fly / Les Tortues Volent Aussi", Bahman Ghobadi, Iran, 2004. Iranian cinema's ongoing engagement with the refugee experience continues with this compelling semi-allegorical new film from Time for Drunken Horses director Bahman Ghobadi. Set in and around a Kurdish village and adjacent refugee camp in the mountains on the Iraq-Turkey border, just after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, its protagonist is 13-year-old Satellite, a budding entrepreneur and local Mr. Fixit who organizes a orphan army of minefield clearers and who owes his nickname to his knack with satellite TV dishes. His authority is challenged by new arrival Henkov, an armless youth who seems to have the power of second sight; further complications ensue when Satellite falls for Henkov's traumatized younger sister, who has an infant child. With its unsentimental point of view, amazingly committed performances, and stunning, war-debris-strewn landscapes, Ghobadi's film is a powerful vision of life in no-man's-land. An IFC Films release.
FRI FEB 11: 6:30.

"The Ister", David Barison and Daniel Ross, Australia, 2004. Screens video-projected on Beta. "The find of the Rotterdam Film Festival 2003, the debut documentary from David Barison and Daniel Ross travels up the Danube River - part of which was known as the Ister in the Roman era. Borrowing their theme from a Heidegger essay on a poem by Hölderlin, the filmmakers travel from the Romanian delta, past NATO-bombed bridges, the Mauthausen death camp, and end up at the river's source in Germany. Their journey, interspersed with interviews with French philosophers Bernard Stiegler, Jean-Luc Nancy, and Philipe Lacoue-Labarthe as well as German filmmaker Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, becomes a probing, evasive meditation on time, culture and change, images and actions…." - Olaf Möller, Film Comment, Mar/Apr 04. SUN FEB 13: 2. Followed by a panel discussion.

"Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance /Boksuneun Naui Geot," Park Chan-wook, Korea, 2002.
"Park Chan-wook's remarkable thriller Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance was easily the highlight within the Korean program at Toronto International Film Festival 2002, a visually bold widescreen schlockfest that unfolds like a hardboiled Takeshi Miike fusion of Raymond Chandler and The Virgin Spring. As a wealthy industrialist hunts the cobalt-coiffed mute anarchist girlfriend responsible for his daughter's abduction, Park is given free rein to push the violence envelope, but the pervasive gore is alternated with scenes of true pathos. Almost comic in escalating brutality, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is strangely affecting as an exploration of grief and suffering." - Travis Crawford, Film Comment, Nov/Dec 02. A Tartan Films release. SUN FEB 13: 7; FRI FEB 18: 8:30.

"Fixed Bayonet Achival Print," Sam Fuller, U.S., 1951. "Steel Hjelmet Archival Print," Sam Fuller, U.S., 1950. We've chosen to show these two early Sam Fuller movies to complement this year's release of the reconstructed version of The Big Red One. There has been no shortage of great films about war as monstrosity or poetic abstraction, but only a precious few that justly portray the reality of war. Fuller, who made it through Africa and Sicily, who lived through D-Day and helped liberate a death camp at Falkenau, made it his business to show war from a soldier's perspective, as experienced and as filtered through memory. He began with these two blunt, brilliant Korean War movies, one set in the heat of summer and the other in the dead of winter, both centered around a ragtag company of GIs boxed in by the enemy and fighting to simply stay alive. "I was driven to turn my wartime experiences into a movie in order to convey the physical and mental upheaval of men at war," wrote Fuller in his autobiography A Third Face. "That's how I ultimately came to grips with my experiences." And made great art in the process. Fixed Bayonet Wed Feb 16: 3 & 7. Steel Helmet Wed Feb 16: 5 & 9

"Memories of Murder / Salinui Chueok" , Bong Joon-ho, Korea, 2003. "An unexpected hit in 2003, Bong Joon-ho's brutal, striking, and funny film is based on the real-life hunt for a small-town serial killer in the late 1980s. It's centered on the fierce yet absurd police investigation and the authorities' extraordinary failure to ensure public safety - in an era of pervasive surveillance and harsh police tactics in which the state seemed to be suspiciously watching everyone. Memories of Murder are the last word on an era in which Koreans, caught in the grip of the Chun dictatorship, could do nothing but watch helplessly." - Kim Young-jin, Film Comment, Nov/Dec 04. A Palm Pictures film.
MON FEB 21: 7; WED FEB 23: 1 & 9.


NAI-NI CHEN DANCE YEAR OF THE ROOSTER: The Year of the Rooster - (4703 on the Chinese calendar) - will be heralded in with a joyous celebration by the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company with performances February 12 and 13 at NJPAC in Newark. The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company has welcomed in the Chinese New Year at NJPAC every year since the opening of this major performing arts center. Audiences delight in the uplifting, fun-filled feast of colorful dance and music. And, speaking of feasts, the Saturday matinee will be followed by a sumptuous 12-course Chinese banquet, catered by the Chinatown Restaurant in Harrison, N.J., held in the beautiful Crystal Ballroom of the Robert Treat Hotel across the street from NJPAC. For Performance Reservations, call 888-466-5722 and Banquet Reservations 800-650-0246.

Animal dances are always an exciting feature of New Year's Celebrations, and he Company will present three of the most renowned: the Lion Dance, which is said to have originated in the Tang Dynasty 3000 years ago. At that time, the Emperor held a festival and people dressed in costumes of 100 different kinds of animals. Over time, the dance evolved into a prayer for peace, with the beast led by a playful child, their union symbolizing harmony on earth. To renew that prayer and hope for peace, the Lion Dance is performed at the beginning of each New Year. The Peacock Dance imitates the movements of the beautiful bird as it runs, walks, drinks water, and grooms. The exotic bird is considered particularly sacred among the Dai people in the Yunnan province of China.

The spectacular Dragon Dance, depicts the mythical beast that represents imperial power and nature's grace. If you are fortunate enough to see this dance, your prosperity and good fortune for the coming year is ensured! The Rooster has inspired Nai-Ni Chen's new Wake Up Call, so titled because it is the animal that wakes up the village to begin the work day. Music for this dance was commissioned by the Company from frequent collaborator Jason Kao Hwang, with major support from the NJSCA on the Project Serving Artists Grant.

Also by Ms. Chen is her exquisite Raindrops, a women's quartet drawn from the choreographer's childhood memories of the city where she was born - Keelong - also known as the "Rain Harbor" of Taiwan. The duet Walking Into the Snow Mountain is accompanied by a Tibetan Folk Song that describes the beauty of Tibetan Snow Mountain and the hike up that mountain, which leads to Paradise. Traditional Chinese Music cannot be neglected in a New Year's celebration, and the Company has invited the superb Melody of Dragon Chinese Music Ensemble to perform several selections. The addition of live music for this Year of the Rooster Celebration has been made possible with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The dancers include Daniella Bloch, Michele Chung, Kelly Hamlin, Gabriel Hernan, Tao Liu, Heather MacNeill, Eddie Stockton, Brandon Tyler, Hong-Wu Yang, Tai Zhang, Yao-Zhong Zhang, Min Zhou. Musicians are Tao Chen, Sis Chen, Liu Li, Bao-Li Zhang.

A blossom of energy, color and motion, "Like endlessly proliferating forces of cosmic energy" says the New York Times. The dances of Nai-Ni Chen successfully combines the dynamic freedom of American modern dance with the grace and splendor of Asian Art. The Company's production takes the audience on an extraordinary artistic journey to places beyond cultural boundaries where tradition meets innovation and freedom arises from discipline. Celebrating the diversity of ideas shaped by the immigrant experience, the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company bridges the gap of understanding between East and West.

Choreographer/Dancer, Nai-Ni Chen is an artist whose work defies categorization for each dance reflects her personal vision as an Asian artist living in America, working on new ideas from influences around the world. The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company has been presented at prestigious concert halls such as the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts in California, the Raymond F. Kravis Center and Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center in Florida, Duke University in North Carolina, Macomb Center in Detroit, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and the State Theatre in New Jersey, the Ordway Center in Minnesota, the Joyce Theater in New York as well as appearing on a number of televised specials on public television station PBS/NJ N .

Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company has been awarded Citations of Excellence numerous times by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and has received generous support from the state since 1993. As participants in the First China International Dance Festival in Kunming,Yunan China, the company received the Golden Lotus Award presented by the China Dance Association. In the spring of 2002, the company's videotape The Art of Chinese Dance received a Parent's Choice Award. The company also receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. Since 1997, the company has been a resident company at the Harlem School of the Arts and receives support from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.
Commissioned dances from the company include Peach Flower Landscape by the Lincoln Center Institute for Arts Education, Qian Kun by the Joyce Theater Foundation's Altogether Different Fund and White Mountain, Black Water, a collaborative work with Hanulsori Korean Percussion Ensemble by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. In the 2001 season, the company presented Tianji/Dragons on the Wall, a work commissioned by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation through the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust with Nobel Literature nominee Bei Dao and internationally acclaimed composer Joan La Barbara. In December 2003, the company premiered Unbroken Thread with a commissioned score by Jason Kao Hwang through the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust's "Live Music for Dance" program. Other supporter of the company includes, Fund for U.S. Artists at International Festivals & Exhibitions, the Turrell Fund, Verizon, Altria Group, Inc, Sony, E.J. Grassman Trust, Hyde & Watson Foundation, Lilian Pitkin Schenck Fund, Trust for Mutual Understanding as well as numerous individual supporters.
In addition to its nearly 40 weeks of touring and performing season, the company has developed Arts in Education residency programs in several urban school districts to bring culture and arts into educational settings. Its residency program for Chinese American heritage has been selected by the Chinese Language Teacher's Association for Primary and Secondary Schools as a new model for collaborative language and arts education in primary and secondary schools.

NEW YORK CHINESE CULTURAL CENTER: The Chinese Folk Dance Company of the New York Chinese Cultural Center will perform it Annual Lunar New Year Festival on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2PM and 7:30PM and Sunday, Feb. 13, 2PM at the Jack Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at New York University, 566 LaGuardia Place at Washington Square South in Manhattan. For tickets, call 212-992-8484 or visit, www.skirballcenter.nyu.edu. For more info about the NYCCC call 212-334-3764 or visit www.chinesedance.org.

The Chinese Folk Dance Company: the resident touring Company of NYCCC comprised of award-winning professional dancers and musicians. The Company brings the richness of traditional dance, Peking Opera and music to audiences across the country. In 2003 alone, the Company presented over 750 performances, workshops, master classes and lecture/demonstrations for 180,000 people of all ages. They have toured to theaters, schools and cultural centers in Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin and Washington, DC. Founded in 1973, the New York Chinese Cultural Center is a community based arts organization that nurtures, teaches, and preserves the traditional Chinese performing arts for present and future generations of Chinese-Americans, while introducing Chinese dance, music, and visual arts to audiences throughout the United States. Through performances, workshops, lecture-demonstrations, classes, and recordings, NYCCC creates a focus for community pride and inspiration, builds bridges to other communities, and promotes knowledge and appreciation of Chinese arts and culture.

CONDORS AT JAPAN SOCIETY: After their sold-out 2001 performance at Japan Society, the exhilarating all-male dance troupe, Condors, return to New York City with Mars: Conquest of the Galaxy II. Presented as part of the Japan Society's season theme Cool Japan: Otaku Strikes!, choreographer Ryohei Kondo fuses slapstick, dance, video, and wild theatrics to create an evening of unstoppable pop culture pyrotechnics. Performances run Thur. & Fri., February 24 & 25 at 7:30 pm. For tickets, call 212-752-3015 or visit www.japansociety.org to purchase tickets or for more information.

Taking stage in their typical Gakuran, the standard black Japanese uniform for school boys, Condors offer another dazzling round of their bold, frenetic and kitschy aesthetic. Featuring all-new material delivered within a fast-paced episodic structure, Mars: Conquest of the Galaxy II is part performing arts extravaganza and part TV variety show spun out of control. The company has been compared to Monty Python, The Beatles, and "Saturday Night Live", but a live Condors experience is uniquely and uproariously their own.

A sensation since 1996 in their native Japan, Condors caught the attention of U.S. critics when they made their debut in 2000 at Japan Society's annual Contemporary Dance Showcase with Jupiter: Conquest of the Galaxy. The New York Times noted, "An irrepressible, irreverent bunch of nicely ill-assorted sizes and presences, the men were impressive in their comic timing and knowledge of dance styles." In March 2001, they delighted audiences with a full-length version of the production at the Society. Condors have toured extensively to various cities nationally and in the U.S., including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Portland, Massachusetts, as well as to international venues in Chile, Costa Rica, Singapore, China, Indonesia, Australia, Taiwan, Korea and Malaysia.

Condors' mimicry of the rapid-fire and ridiculous TV variety show structure makes it a perfect offering in Japan Society's Cool Japan: Otaku Strikes! season. All Spring programming delves into the Japanese subculture known as otaku, a term now creeping into Western vocabulary coined in the late 1980s to describe people whose obsessions with something-usually video games, anime or internet chat rooms-have led them to peculiar lifestyles or worldviews.

Ryohei Kondo, founder and choreographer for Condors, was born in Peru and raised throughout South America. He returned to his native Japan for college where he became immersed in the contemporary dance scene in Tokyo. Since 1994 he has danced with Kota Yamazakil, Akira Kasai, Doug Varone, Kuniko Kisanuki and Toshiko Takeuchi as well as Japanese traditional dance artist Bando Sengiku, among others. As a prolific choreographer, he created "P-kies Summer Concert" for Fuji Television, which toured to more than 40 venues in Japan. Kondo choreographed all the dance scenes in Takashi Miike's film The Happiness of the Katakuri Family and since 1996, he has created over a dozen works for Condors, catapulting the company to international super-stardom. In 2001 Ryohei Kondo named "the most promising choreographer for the 21st century" in the major Japanese daily, Yomiuri Shimbun. Kondo most recently was awarded this year's Shuji Terayama Award at the Asahi Newspaper Performing Arts Awards for his choreography.


PLAYWRITING WORKSHOP: Han Ong, sponsored by Ma-Yi Theater Company, will hold a playwriting workshop Tuesdays, Feb. 15 through March 29, 6:30-9:30PM at the Asian American Writers Workshop 16 West 32nd Street, 10th Floor in New York City. This seven-week playwriting workshop is about unlocking the theatrical
imagination and learning to hear and write for the human voice on stage. It is about the mastery of a form of writing that is vitally different from prose. Attention is focused on cadence, rhythm, point-counterpoint, character dynamics and desire. Visualization exercises, wordplay, and in-class performance are some of the freeing techniques used to aid on-site writing. Do you have a monologue you wish to write for yourself to perform,
because all the monologues in those actors' handbooks do not speak to you? Do you have a one- act or perhaps even a full-length that you've been working on and wish to take to the next level? Are you a theatrical beginner who wishes for a breakthrough in writing convincing, fluid dialogue? Then this class is for you. To sign up, call 212-494-0061 or email desk@aaww.org

Han Ong is a widely acclaimed playwright and novelist. His plays have been performed all across the US as well as abroad. They include THE L.A. PLAYS; THE CHANG FRAGMENTS; MIDDLE FINGER (published in American Theatre magazine February 2001); WATCHER; and SWOONY PLANET. In 1997, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, becoming one of the youngest fellows in the foundation's history. He is also the creator and performer of several solo works, including SYMPOSIUM IN MANILA; CORNER STORE GEOGRAPHY; and PLAY OF FATHER AND JUNIOR. In 2001, he published his first novel, FIXER CHAO, to great acclaim, garnering a nomination for a Stephen Crane First Fiction Award. The book was also named a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year. He has just published his second novel, THE DISINHERITED (Farrar Straus & Giroux).

Founded in 1989, Ma-Yi Theater Company is an Obie Award-winning, not-for-profit organization whose primary mission is to develop new plays and performance works that essay Asian American experiences. We provide a home for artists where they can take big creative risks and investigate new avenues of collaboration as they hone individual and collective skills. We encourage our artists to engage their communities in vigorous dialogues that push Asian American aesthetics beyond easily identifiable Orientalist markers. We challenge popular prescriptions of what culturally specific theater should be by producing challenging, forward-thinking plays written by today's emerging crop of new playwrights. http://www.ma-yitheatre.org. For more information, please check http://www.aaww.org [Abalos]


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