Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company (Fort Lee, NJ)

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  Female textile worker in work clothes and apron next to small scale cut-out men and women in a small-scale house

Min Zhou in Peacock Dance, part of Nai-Ni Dance Company's Year of the Rooster Chinese New Year Festival. Photo by Carol Rosegg

Established in 1988, the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company provides world-class modern dance performances infused with Asian traditions.  With more than 400 performances and workshops presented each year, the company reaches more than 90,000 people throughout the United States.  Its Arts in Education residency programs introduce children ages K-12 to Chinese dance traditions, both through performances and dance classes.

In FY 2005, the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company received an NEA Challenge America grant of $10,000 to support its Year of the Rooster Chinese New Year Festival.  Presented in its hometown of Fort Lee, New Jersey - as well as on Long Island, New York and in Collegeville, Minnesota -- the festival had more than 9,000 participants, including 6,000 children and youth.  The company, in collaboration with musicians from Melody of the Dragon, presented performances both during the school day and in the evening for families.  The full-length presentation of dance and music included a new piece related to the Chinese Dai minority: The Peacock Dance was accompanied by music based on the folk tune Phoenix Bamboo under the Moonlight and played on the bawu, a reed flute, by the composer Tao Chen. 

For many Chinese-American families, the festival was a central component of their New Year celebration. It also provided American families who have adopted children from China with an outlet into Chinese culture and traditions.  This festival is an active way to preserve this important part of China's cultural heritage while at the same time promoting the diversity of talent in the Chinese-American community.

(From the NEA 2005 Annual Report)