HT Chen, who blended eastern and western influences into his choreography and founded a cultural center in Chinatown, New York for over 40 years, with his wife, Dian Dong, died in Manhattan on June 12. I did. He was 74 years old.
Don said the cause was lung cancer.
Born in Shanghai, Mr. Chen moved to the United States in 1971, and after graduating from The Juilliard School in 1976, he formed HT Chen & Dancers, a modern dance company that has performed frequently in New York and has been touring. .. Prior to arriving in New York, Chen learned about Chinese classical dance and the use of acrobat, martial arts, and dance in Chinese opera, and learned about Western modern dance techniques at The Juilliard.
“I combined them into a vocabulary of my movements,” he explained. 2013 video interview..
Having a master’s degree in dance education from New York University in 1978, Chen incorporated his own heritage and Asian-American history into many of his works. For 2015 works “South of Gold Mountain” He collected stories and images of Chinese immigrants who settled in the southern United States for three years. Some of them worked at cotton plantations.
His signature work, The Transparent Hinge, developed in the mid-1990s, was intended to capture the experience of immigrants on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. Here, hundreds of thousands of immigrants, mostly from China, were dealt with in the first half of the last. century.
Chicago Tribune dance critic Sidsmith was particularly impressed at the closing moment when his dance company presented his work in Chicago in 1999.
“Young, old, Asian, non-Asian figures,” he writes. “
In 1980, Mr. Chen and Mr. Don opened the Chain Dance Center on Mulberry Street in Chinatown, offering classes as a base for dance groups and dance education programs, and have been widely active in municipal schools. In 1988, they added a theater to that location. This was once a public school where generations of immigrants were educated.
Jennifer Dunning of the New York Times, who reviewed the dance show there in 1989, called the space “a place where theatrical magic is likely to occur” and over the years, not only dance, but also puppet shows and other multicultural performances. We held countless times. event.
In January 2020, a fire destroyed the complex. The complex also housed archives of various community organizations and the American Chinese Museum. The troupe has since played in alternative spaces, including outdoors, and since the pandemic began, the center has effectively offered class and school programs.
Mr Don said the center wants to be rebuilt.City Allocating millions The specific plan for it is fluid, but of the dollar for the site.
Don said her husband’s work on stage and at school served an important purpose.
“HT Chen focused many of his works on the stories of Chinese in the Americas, so these works are important for students to understand the Chinese contribution to American architecture.” She said in an email. “When guided to dig deeper into culture, students begin to see Asians as their friends, neighbors, and colleagues, rather than as’aliens’. “
Hsueh-Tung Chen was born on June 23, 1947 in Chiang and Hsian Yuan Ming Chen and grew up in Taiwan. He liked painting and his parents thought he might be an architect, but he said he was more interested in the movement.
He studied dance at Chinese Culture University in Taiwan before coming to New York. At The Juilliard, he met his fellow student, Don. Martha Hill, director of the school’s dance department, asked her to be his interpreter. They got married in 1975.
Before starting his own troupe Mr. Chen Choreographed and performed at La MaMa in New York, the organization gave his dance group a home before moving to Mulberry Street.
When he set out on a journey to a dance company, Chen was known for improving his performance with explanatory lectures and demonstrations aimed at people unfamiliar with modern dance. As the Cincinnati Enquirer stated in 2000, he called the night the “Beholder’s Eye” at the University of Cincinnati and said, “I want to assure the audience that there is nothing to fear.”
“Mr. Chen doesn’t teach us how to look at modern dance,” the newspaper added. To look for. “
In an interview with the newspaper, he explained his reason.
“People in the community feel they don’t have the opportunity to experience modern dance,” he said. “Maybe they have a local studio where they can enjoy tap dancing, clogging and ballet, but they’re not modern.”
In addition to his wife, Mr. Chen, who lived in Manhattan, has two daughters, Yeri and Evelyn Chen, and three brothers, She Ping Chen, June Lee, and Winnie Chin.
In a 2000 interview, Chen talked about why many of his works focus on history and heritage.
“I think it’s very important as an individual. Knowing who you are and where you came from,” he said.