A Collaboration of Nai-Ni Chen and the Ahn Trio with
Lighting Designer Yi-Chung Chen
Visual Designer Jayanthi Moorthy
Costume Designer Anna-Alisa Belous
A Quest for Freedom is a program that highlights the hope and quest for freedom in every aspect of the artist’s life and only highlighted by the current societal, national, international and historical debate around immigration. Following the NJPAC premiere, the new work will premiere at Philadelphia’s NextDance Festival Fri-Sun, April 20, 21, 22 at the Prince Theatre.
Originally inspired by Ahn Trio’s adaptation of David Bowie’s Space Oddity and the their performance of the Trio’s version of Purple Rain by Prince on Ellis Island’s Great Hall of Immigration, Nai-Ni Chen continued to work with the Trio throughout 2017 to find their common vision, exploring their common roots as Asian American immigrants, and as women artists developing innovative work in America. Their collaboration is enhanced by the work of visual artist Jayathi Moorthy, who brings a contemporary, visual artist perspective to the project.
The new production will feature new music created especially for Nai-Ni Chen, Concrete Stream as well as Night Flight by Kenji Bunch, Insensatez by Astor Piazzola and popular music adaptations for classical instruments by David Bowie and Prince. For each of these music, Nai-Ni Chen created new dances titled: I want to Fly, Liberation, Lonely Man, A Forgotten Past, and My Flower Garden, each dance explores part of her journey as an immigrant woman artist who view freedom from different lances here in America.
About A Quest for Freedom
This immigrant experience is not just one story; it’s a multi-faceted story.
It’s about committing to a path that will change your destiny, it’s about taking chances, and seeking freedom through abandoning the comfort of home and all things familiar. The story symbolizes courage and bravery; as well as highlights the diverse and manifold world we live in. It is about the continual yearning for what you have left behind, and the constant despair one faces when growing apart from what we have left.
A Quest For Freedom is about an adventure that is driven by the hopes and desires of one to go beyond the known and into the unknown. A Quest For Freedom allows the indescribable to be described through actions and emotions projected by our own bodies.
The Asian influence is not infused into the production through the props and costume, but is instead exhibited by body motions and the stillness of the choreography. Indeed, it can be seen in the emphasis on the full body spiral of Tai-Chi, the use of negative and positive space on the stage, the calligraphic movement phrases, and ultimately the oneness with nature.
An empowering evening of music and dance, A Quest for Freedom is a music and dance collaboration between the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company and the world-renowned Ahn Trio.
The athletic physicality of 7 exquisite dancers, mesmerizing choreography of Nai-Ni Chen combined with the virtuosity of the Ahn Trio are integrated
seamlessly throughout the program.
In this production, the Ahn Trio performs their most popular and engaging music, including their sassy, classical version of Space Oddity by David Bowie, Night Flight by Kenji Bunch, among others. The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company also commissioned new music from composer Kenji Bunch. Concrete Stream with passages that allow dancers to interact with musicians.
About Concrete Stream
“Concrete Stream” usually refers to an artificial trickle of water in a backyard garden-
essentially an elaborate home improvement project. Perhaps a more poetic interpretation of the term could
suggest the paradox between the organic and man-made; the struggle for the existence of fluidity and natural
beauty in an urban, industrial context. This work explores these two conflicting concepts, by incorporating
elements of “floating” melody, free from traditionally notated rhythms, juxtaposed with the insistent inflexibility of
The Ahn Trio
Hailed as "exciting musicians" with virtuosity and flair, the three sisters of the Ahn Trio (Lucia on the piano,
Angella on the violin and Maria on the cello) have embraced 21st century classical music while redefining the
art of chamber music. Born in Seoul, Korea and educated at the Julliard School in New York City, the Ahn Trio
brings a new energy and an ever evolving vision of music to the performance stage, whether it be Vienna’s
Musikverein, New York’s Lincoln Center, Beijing's Concert Hall or The White House. In this innovative
collaboration with Asian-American choreographer, Nai Ni Chen, the world-class dance company and trio are
immersed in the visual element of the pieces, creating a mesmerizing blend of music and dance of sheer aural
and visual beauty.
A Word for Freedom
By Latif Nazemi
Translated from the Persian/Dari by Bashir Sakhawarz
Let's kiss water
the root of civilization
a word for freedom
I'm in love with water
with roaring and restless rivers
that are not seduced by trees
nor captured by jungles
They flow day and night
carry on forever.
Let's praise rivers that lust for flowing
for searching for a heart of temptation
that know what message water delivers to stone,
the questions water asks from quiet coasts.
Passerby, for a long time
the river has been constrained in an old robe
on our street and thrown into a well
Water wars with the well
water in the mind of a tree
water in the solitude of a cup,
water in the memory of flowerpot,
I had a wonderful dream on Friday night.
I dreamed the river ran free
that on its roaring horse
it rode over stones,
past the border of farms.