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The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company presents Shadow Dance at Aljira

Newark, New Jersey—Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art is pleased to present

Shadow Dance: Alone but Not Alone by the contemporary dance company led by choreographer Nai-Ni Chen on Thursday, December 12, 2013 from 6pm to 8pm.

Through self-examination, the choreographer raises the question: are we ever really alone? Our physical being may be standing by itself, but what about the introspective self?  For most of us, we talk to ourselves as if there is another being within us.  When we are still, we let our thoughts pass by like flowing water.  If we could engage our shadows in a conversation, what would it be like?

Nai-Ni Chen found inspiration in the Tang Dynasty poem, “Alone Under the Moon” by Li Bai. The poem describes the poet being alone under the moon. The moon and the shadow of himself accompany him in a conversation and they dance together as a trio.

The design of the movements will be the result of improvisation driven by the rhythm, image of poetry and the flow of the mind while alone. Meditation and breathing exercise will be emphasized to connect the inner energy with the movements. The study will also include exploration of the relationship of oneself and a constant partner. This constant partner that follows you forever can play many roles such as support, burden, suppression, or comfort.  It can also create the feeling of companionship, dependence and separation.

At Aljira, Nai-Ni Chen will experiment with several ideas with seven dancers to live music performed by Matthew Levy of the Prism Quartet. Audience members will be encouraged to talk to the dancers, discuss their reactions to the work and the process of creation.

The dances of Nai-Ni Chen fuse the dynamic freedom of American modern dance with the grace and splendor of Asian art. A blossom of color, energy and motion, "like endlessly proliferating forces of cosmic energy," says The New York Times. The Company's productions take the audience beyond cultural boundaries to where tradition meets innovation and freedom arises from discipline.

The performance is free and open to the public.

Also on view at Aljira: Temporality and Objects: New Installations and Photographs by Carl E. Hazlewood and Birth of a Cypher: Works by Terry Boddie will be on view at Aljira through December 21, 2013.

About Na-Ni Chen

Choreographer/Dancer Nai-Ni Chen is an artist whose work defies categorization, as she is continually working on new ideas from influences around the world. Her mesmerizing and dramatic contemporary choreography has gained increasing recognition among domestic and international presenters and festivals. Recently, the Company was honored by a distinctive grant award from both the President's Committee on Arts and Humanities and the Department of State to represent the United States in a seven-city tour arranged by the Tamaulipas International Arts Festival in Mexico.

Presented by some of the most prestigious concert halls in the United States, from the Joyce Theater in New York to the Ordway Center in Minnesota and the Cerritos Center in California, the Company has mounted twenty national tours and seven tours abroad.  Ms. Chen’s work has been presented by such acclaimed international festivals as the Silesian International Contemporary Dance Festival and the Konfrontations International Dance Festival, both in Poland, the Chang Mu International Arts Festival in Korea and the China International Dance Festival.

The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company also has the unique honor of having received more than twelve awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and numerous Citations of Excellence and grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. In the First China International Dance Festival in Kunming, Yunan, the China Dance Association presented to the Company its most prestigious honor for companies not based in China, the Golden Lotus Award.

The Company's commissioned dances include American Landscape (New Jersey Performing Arts Center), Peach Flower Landscape (Lincoln Center Institute), Qian Kun (Joyce Theater), Tianji/Dragons on the Wall (Andrew W. Mellon Foundation through the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust), The Way of Five (Towson University) and Unfolding (Dancing in the Streets).

About Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art

Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art fosters excellence in the visual arts through exhibitions and educational programs that serve as catalysts for inclusiveness and diversity, promote cross-cultural dialog, and enable us to better understand the time in which we live. Public understanding and support of the visual arts are strengthened through collaboration and community-based educational programming. Aljira seeks out the work of emerging and underrepresented artists and brings the work of more established artists to our community. Through the visual arts Aljira bridges racial, cultural and ethnic divides and enriches the lives of individuals.

Aljira’s operations and programs are made possible, in part, by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, New Jersey Cultural Trust, The Kenneth Aidekman Family Foundation, Bank of America, Brick City Development Corporation, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Greater Newark Conservancy, Hyde and Watson Foundation, Joan Mitchell Foundation, Lambent Foundation, MCJ Amelior Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, PNC Bank, Prudential, The Prudential Foundation, PSE&G Foundation, RBH Group, Spire Group, State Farm Insurance, Telebrands, Tides Foundation, The Turrell Fund, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and many generous individual contributors.

Through 2014, Aljira is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a series of special exhibitions, events and programs. To learn more visit: http://aljira.org/30th-anniversary-events/

Aljira is located at 591 Broad Street in downtown Newark. For directions visit our website at www.aljira.org. The Center is open Wednesday through Friday, 12–6 pm and Saturday, 11 am–4pm. Phone 973 622-1600, fax 973 622-6526,