Image credit: Robert Sweeney.
UPDATE: Both the May 8 and May 9 performances will begin at 8PM (not at 7PM, as indicated in the printed calendar).
by Lenora Lee Dance with Kei Lun Martial Arts & Enshin Karate, South San Francisco Dojo
Co-presented by the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU and Asia Society
Co-sponsored by the Asian Women Giving Circle, Museum of Chinese in America, TOPAZ ARTS, and Asian American Arts Alliance
Directed by A/P/A Institute at NYU Visiting Scholar Lenora Lee, the interdisciplinary performance works The Escape and Rescued Memories: New York Stories excavate the lives of early 20th century Chinese women migrants through dance, martial arts, film, and music.
The Escape is inspired by stories of women who, after being trafficked into the United States, sought refuge in San Francisco’s Donaldina Cameron House, a faith-based social service agency that today continues to serve Asian communities living in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Rescued Memories: New York Stories retraces the life of Bessie M. Lee (Bessie You Toy–b. 1894), who spent two years in indentured servitude after migrating to New York City to work for a wealthy Chinese family.
Through the cinematic recreations of actual experiences in key historic locations of San Francisco and New York City Chinatowns, overlaid with voiceover of first hand accounts, contracts and court documents found in the archives at Donaldina Cameron House and the Library of Congress, Lee weaves together a powerful and evocative collage of stories highlighting the lives of women who were at the forefront of the early Chinatown communities, who through the resilience and triumph over unimaginable experiences, were grounding forces in the creation of these communities during the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Both evenings’ performances will be followed by special conversations featuring the artists, community organizers, and scholars. On May 9, Dan Bacalzo (NYU Drama Department NYU and Hunter College Asian American Studies Program) moderates a post-performance conversation featuring Lenora Lee, Purvi Shah (non-profit consultant, anti-violence advocate, and writer), Annie Fukukshima (Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Associate, Women’s and Gender Studies and the Institute for Research on Women, Rutgers University), and Song Kim (Kirkland and Ellis Fellow, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund).
These companion pieces detail stories of women who became vulnerable upon their arrival in the United States. They shed light on the experiences of these women in the context of the social history for Chinese in America as well as in the struggles and achievements of the 20th Century Women’s Movement. The works connect these experiences with today’s fabric of organizations and individuals that are on the front line of the contemporary struggle against the exploitation of women and children in our communities.
Featuring media design by Olivia Ting, videography directed by Tatsu Aoki, music score by Francis Wong, and text by Genny Lim. Performed by Juliet Ante, Kelly Del Rosario, Raymond Fong, Larissa Fong, Marina Fukushima, Chin-chin Hsu, Lynn Huang, Wei-Shan Lai, Lenora Lee, Olivia Ting.