WATCH: Choreographer Nai-Ni Chen on dance, immigrants and the American experience

A Taiwanese makes the case for culture

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published March 6, 2017 1:00AM (EST)

At a time in our country when immigrants are under attack and funding for arts and culture are threatened, dancer and choreographer Nai-Ni Chen  still believes in the American dream.

Since the early eighties, she's been creating bold work that focuses on her background in Taiwan, and the changing culture both there and here in the US. To that end, her company, based in New York, has performed all across the country. "I'm an immigrant artist, so my work naturally reflects my journey," she tells Salon. "My dancers are from all over the world. It's a company of immigrants…. It's really a community, like America is. It's filled with people and influences from all over the world." But she adds that ever since the election, "Theres a strong sense of  urgency to emphasize the voice of immigrant artists."

And Michael Liu, Director of Chinese Community Initiatives at Flushing Town Hall, suggests that we all "Take a deep breath and engage with the arts or performance…. Go outside your comfort zone. We are facing the threat of cutting funding for arts and humanities…. but strength  always comes from the people. The more people who know how important it is, the more chances we have to get our voice back."

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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Culture Dance Immigration Michael Liu Nai-ni Chen Original Video