AAPI Dance Artists Residencies

Leonard Cruz, Chia-Ying Kao, Mina Nishimura, Nikaio Bulan Sahar Thomashow, Huiwang Zhang

Year: 2022-2023
DanceForce Member: Paz Tanjuaquio
Artists: Leonard Cruz, Chia-Ying Kao, Mina Nishimura, Marie Lloyd Paspe, Nikaio Thomashow, Huiwang Zhang
Audience: 600
County: Queens

In FY2023, TOPAZ ARTS presented the AAPI Dance Artist Residencies raising awareness to the stories, bodies and experiences of Asian American Pacific Islander dance artists. The 2022 AAPI Dance Residencies took place at TOPAZ ARTS, giving time and space for the following choreographers to develop, create and present new works:

Mina Nishimura, a Tokyo-born dance artist, spent extensive time together for the first time with her cast of 7 at Topaz Arts in the Summer 2022. During her residency at Topaz Arts, she developed a new dance project “Mapping A Forest while Searching for an Opposite Term of Exorcist” which premiered in November 3-5, 2022 at Danspace Project, NY where it was commissioned. Also shown at Jacob’s Pillow’s outdoor stage. During the development phase at Topaz, Nishimura with support from her butoh/dance mentor, Kota Yamazaki, did somatic and movement practice together which created a solid common ground for the project.

Chia-Ying Kao, a Taiwanese-American choreographer, performer and teacher based in Brooklyn, developed two solo dance works during Fall 2022. “Identities” reflects on the concept of likeness and continuity, as well as on the issues of self-definition and individual physicality. “This is cactus land” explores the relationships within a landscape of sounds, objects and a body in the light or in darkness, evoking memories of intense struggles and the stage becomes a metaphor for a space dedicated to personal desire and vulnerability.

Huiwang Zhang, a company member of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company since 2017, presented a work-in-progress “a note on the Peach Blossom Spring” on October 22, 2022. The work leans towards a dystopian vision precipitated by the chill of mass indifference in the face of Anti-Asian violence, children taken away from their parents by the government, nativist resentment in the land of immigrants.

Nikaio Bulan Sahar Thomashow, a Filipinx-American dancer, composer, and teacher originally from Saranac Lake, NY, presented two showings at TOPAZ ARTS, May 21, 2023 and June 11, 2023. Culminating their Spring 2023 residency, KAōS Dance Collective shared new work created during their time at TOPAZ.

As part of the AAPI Residency series, TOPAZ ARTS presented FX Indépendance: Filipinx Dance Artists – Performance and Artist Talk on Sunday, June 11, 2023. In celebration of Philippine Independence Day, the program featured Filipinx-American Dance Artists with current AAPI Resident Artist Nikaio Bulan Sahar, along with previous resident artists Leonard Cruz, Marie Lloyd Paspe, and Co-Founding Director Paz Tanjuaquio. Each artist sharing short works – returning from Germany, Dr. Leonard Cruz shared a new solo work; Marie Lloyd Paspe, a current company member of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane, shared excerpts from Bumalik, and new solo work by Paz. Followed by a post-performance artist talk, this informal gathering of Filipinx performer/choreographers shared and discussed their movement practices, locally and internationally.