DanceForce Member: Paz Tanjuaquio
Artists: Jessica Chen; Sun Kim; Mary Prescott; Huiwang Zhang
Community Partners: Harlem Stage
TOPAZ ARTS 2023 AAPI Dance Residencies celebrates dance artists of Asian American and Pacific Islanders Heritage. TOPAZ ARTS gives choreographers the opportunity and freedom to create in a focused and inspired atmosphere. Being situated in the most diverse county in the nation – Queens – we continue to cultivate new audiences for dance from within our community, largely of immigrant population. AAPI Dance Artists Residencies engages both artists and the community, raising awareness of stories, bodies and experiences of Asian American and Pacific Islanders.
TOPAZ ARTS will support AAPI Dance Artists with time and space to focus and develop the creation of new works. Each choreographer will receive fully subsidized rehearsal space and artist stipend. Topaz Arts supports the creative process & fosters cultural exchange, allowing for experimentation, visibility & access to diverse audiences. In FY2024, the following artists will participate in residency activities at TOPAZ ARTS – showings, open rehearsals, community research – according to the needs of each artist:
Summer 2023: Sun Kim is a distinguished dancer, choreographer, artistic director, and dance educator. Hailing from South Korea, she specializes in Popping – a style of street dance in which she finds strength and freedom to speak her truth. Most recently, she has been honored with the 2022 Emerging Artist Award at Harlem Stage Gala and was nominated at the 2022 Bessie Awards for Outstanding Breakout Choreographer. Sun Kim Dance Theatre (SKDT) has been performed at MOPTOP Anniversary, San Francisco International Hip Hop Dance Festival, NYPL at Lincoln Center, Ladies of Hip Hop Festival and Choreographer’s Carnival, and will perform at the New Victory Theater on July 20, 2023.
Fall 2023: Huiwang Zhang/Wan Dance Theater continues residency activity in Summer/Fall 2023 and will present a new evening-length dance on October 21, 2023 at TOPAZ ARTS. Huiwang Zhang, a company member of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company since 2017, has danced with the China Opera & Dance Drama Theater and Paper Tiger Theater Studio in Beijing. He completed his Master study in Dance and Choreography in the U.S. and Germany under the mentorships of Stephen Koester, Sharee Lane, Ellen Bromberg and Katharina Christl. He edits the e-journal upsidedown in China, where he advocates for dance as a serious art form and critical research practice. His choreography, often through a sociocultural lens, gives voices to communities at risk of social exclusion and people whose stories are lost in the ofﬁcial narratives, carefully structuring an alternative history from individual personal and private stories.
Winter 2023: Mary Prescott is a Thai-American interdisciplinary performing artist, composer and pianist who explores the foundations and facets of identity and social conditions through experiential performance.She aims to foster understanding and create pathways for change by voicing emotional and human truths through artistic investigation and dissemination. Prescott’s performance works examine intergenerational cultural identity, integrating movement, music, word and film. Her residency at TOPAZ ARTS will focus on movement while exploring the Queens area that relate to her Thai ancestry. Her new project Ancestral Table is a shared family meal, interdisciplinary performance, and docuseries that examines the relationships between ecology, migration, cultural inheritance, and maternal legacy through the lens of one woman’s Thai family recipes – to be presented at Harlem Stage in December 2023.
Spring 2024: Jessica Chen is an American dancer, choreographer and Artistic Director of J CHEN PROJECT. Credits: The Portal (Minetta Lane Theater), New York Fashion Week (MoMA), Restart Stages (Lincoln Center), Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, MACY’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, TEDxSemesteratSea, World Expo-USA Pavilion in Shanghai, and Google Arts & Culture (Asian American Arts Alliance). She recently premiered an Off-Off Broadway show titled AAPI Heroes: Myths and Legends; choreographed Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella at Geva Theater; Jersey Boys for Weathervane Theater, and Spring Awakening for Montclair State University. Jessica is a 2023 Bessies nominee for Outstanding Choreographer/Creator for her piece NüWa (女媧). www.jessicachen.co