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Sit, Eat and Chew - a site-specific dance that will tell the stories of a changing Chinatown

by Robert Abrams
October 4, 2017
New York, NY
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1681305039/sit-eat-and-chew

http://www.meibewhatever.com
"Sit, Eat and Chew" is a new site-specific dance-theatre show being developed by choreographer Mei-Yin Ng. I had the pleasure of sitting in on a rehearsal tonight. The show, which will tell stories of a changing Chinatown, promises to break barriers of more than one kind.

At the rehearsal, three of five dances were performed. The dancing was characterized by sinuous use of the full body, including articulate hands. There was good pacing to the choreography, building from slow to fast. The dancers had a solid foundation of technique. I saw a diversity of movement style within a consistent framework: sometimes the movement felt rooted in clearly Chinese or Asian dance, sometimes Modern or Contemporary, and sometimes channeling Pop dance styles. (This is America and New York City, so no one is ever just one thing.) The music was also diverse: sometimes minimal as a sonic backdrop and sometimes fuller. The show is still being tweaked, as is to be expected for a work in development, so some of what I saw is likely to change.

Ms. Ng has something to say about the Asian experience. Rather than just showing that experience through dance, she will take the audience to several unique spaces in Chinatown. She is taking a risk with a performance format that is a departure from her previous work. The community members who will open their spaces to her audience are taking a risk. The audience is being asked to take a risk too: in some parts of the show, the audience will be asked to interact with the dancers, potentially creating uncomfortable intimacy - this is a good thing, just take a deep breath and say Yes to the opportunity to be part of the art.

The rehearsal made me want to, on the one hand, suspend my intellect and just experience it, and on the other, to study it to learn the influences and history on which each movement is based.

"Sit, Eat and Chew" will include both professional and community dancers. (The rehearsal I attended only had professional dancers.) Inclusion of both has the potential to grow the dance community, so I am looking forward to seeing how the show brings dancers with different prior experience together.

There will be some walking from location to location during the show, and the audience may be standing for part of the show, so I suggest wearing comfortable shoes.

Performances are planned for Oct 14 & 15, and 21 & 22, 2017. Based on what I saw at the rehearsal, "Sit, Eat and Chew" promises to be a unique traveling feast of dance, story, spaces and food.

To find out more about "Sit, Eat and Chew", you can go to her website (http://www.meibewhatever.com) and her Kickstarter campaign page (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1681305039/sit-eat-and-chew).
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