is a category-defying director/choreographer/performance artist known for creating dance theater works that fearlessly bridge geographic, technological, artistic and cultural divides to conjure a unique brand of theatrical magic. Having forged a dance style employing Chinese energy direction and spatial principles as a means of creating contemporary dance theater, Yin Mei has established herself as a choreographer and performance/visual artist uniquely positioned to explore themes of artistic and spiritual significance arising at the intersection between Asian traditional performance and Western contemporary dance. She has collaborated with an astonishing array of other artists, from well-known visual artists such as MacArthur Award-winning Xu Bing and Cai Guo Giang (US/China) and composers Robert Een (U.S.) and Tony Prabowo (Indonesia), to performers as varied as Tibetan modern dancer Sang Jijia (formerly with the William Forsythe Company), traditional Balinese masked dancer I Nyoman Catra and “downtown” dance luminaries Jeanine Durning and Jennifer Nugent. Yin Mei received a Guggenheim Fellowship in Choreography in 2005, was a Choreography Fellow of the New York Foundation for the Arts in 2004 and was twice nominated for a Cal-Arts Alpert Award in Choreography.
Yin Mei was born in China and started her professional career in traditional Chinese dance during the Cultural Revolution. Joining a leading regional dance company at the age of thirteen, she was trained in Chinese court and folk dance, Peking Opera, martial arts, Tai Chi and other Asian traditional dance forms. Before coming to the United States to study modern dance on a grant from the Asian Cultural Council, she was a principal dancer with the Henan Song and Dance Troupe and later the Hong Kong Dance Company, where she danced leading roles in the traditional Chinese dance repertoire. Yin Mei now choreographs and performs her contemporary works worldwide through her company, YIN MEI DANCE
. Her choreography has been hailed by critics as “theatrical magic” (New York Times) and as inhabiting “the tremulous space where dreams and memory reside” (Village Voice). Yin Mei herself is described as a “dancer of exquisite lyricism and delicacy” (New York Times) and “a stunning presence, bringing her classical Chinese training and aesthetic into a blend with her adopted Downtown sensibilities with refined grace” (Dance Insider).
Yin Mei's most recent evening-length work, Nomad: The River, a multi-media dance theater piece created in collaboration with sound and visual designer Christopher Salter, premiered at Dance Theater Workshop in New York City in March 2005. Nomad was presented at the Contemporary Theater Festival in Shanghai and at the Beijing Modern Dance Theater in 2006 and toured the U.S. in 2006-07. Described by the Village Voice as “real yet unreal, vivid yet somehow misted in beauty,” the work “brushes our minds with images whose poetry ensnares us, whose enigmas taunt us.” Prior work includes /Asunder, a multi-media, cross-cultural dance theater work created in collaboration with installation artist Cai Guo-Qiang and composer Robert Een, which premiered at Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church in New York in May 2001. /Asunder toured eleven U.S. cities throughout 2002 to critical and audience acclaim, starting at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Dance Insider found it “filled with movement that translates an agony that is repeatedly saved with an embrace”. Yin Mei's first evening-length dance theater work, Empty Tradition/City of Peonies, premiered at the Asia Society in New York City in fall 1998 and was presented at the Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival in August 1999. Conceived, choreographed and directed by Yin Mei, Empty Tradition/City of Peonies was the product of a year-long collaboration with Indonesian composer Tony Prabowo and prominent Chinese installation artist Xu Bing. In addition to Yin Mei, the performers included Tibetan modern dancer Sang Jijia, downtown dancer Jennifer Nugent, a Buddhist martial artist, seven Indonesian musicians and a Canadian-born Julliard-trained violist. Jennifer Dunning of the New York Times wrote that “[t]he piece proceeds from one distilled memory to another, not illustrating them but evoking their emotions in passages of shimmering, pensive and abrupt movement.”
Yin Mei is currently developing a mixed media installation/performance work entitled CITY
OF PAPER. She displayed/performed portions of this work as part of the Queens Museum Biennial in 2006/07 and has also performed it at various New York art galleries. In January 2007, Art Review magazine devoted a two-page color spread to Yin Mei creating this work at the James Cohan Gallery in New York. Yin Mei had a solo exhibition of her art and performance work at the DeVos Museum, Northern Michigan University, in October 2007. Yin Mei was one of a number of prominent U.S.-based Chinese-born artists interviewed for NPR’s “Studio 360” program entitled “Overseas Chinese”.
Yin Mei's choreography has been presented at leading New York dance and performance venues including Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church, Dance Theater Workshop, La Mama ETC., the Asia Society, the Japan Society, City Center’s Fall for Dance Festival, PACE Downtown Theater, the Mulberry Street Theater, the Lincoln Center Out-Of-Doors Festival, Movement Research at Judson Church, the Queens College Theater, P.S. 1, the Knitting Factory, the Williamsburg Art Center and the Queens Museum. Her work has been presented twice at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, and at U.S. venues including the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Miami Performing Arts Center, Columbia College Dance Center, University of California Los Angeles, UMASS-Amherst, University of California at Santa Cruz, the Kohler Arts Center, University of Arizona, Arizona State University, Hamilton College, University of Alaska, Trinity College, Bryn Mawr College Brown University, Wake Forest University, University of California at Riverside and Bard College. Internationally, her work has been presented at Tokyo's Theater X, the Shanghai Contemporary Theater Festival, Beijing’s Theater for Modern Dance, the Hong Kong Town Hall Theatre, the Jerusalem Museum, the Chikamatsu Festival (Japan), the BBB Festival (Germany), the Indonesian Dance Festival, the Korea International Dance Festival and the Contemporary Dance Festival (West Sumatra). She was one of ten international choreographers invited to participate in the 50th anniversary of the American Dance Festival.
Yin Mei’s work has been supported by grants from the Rockefeller Foundation Multi-Arts Production Fund, the Doris Duke Fund for Dance of the National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, the Jerome Foundation, Meet The Composer, Arts International, Greenwall Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts (BUILD), New York State Dance Force, Asian Cultural Council, Bossak/Heibron Charitable Foundation, the Asian American Arts Alliance, the Queens College Foundation and the Research Foundation of City University of New York. Yin Mei was a participating fellow in the Asia Pacific Performing Arts Exchange (APPEX) in Bali, Indonesia sponsored by the Center for Intercultural Performance at UCLA. A longtime practitioner and teacher of Tai Chi and a student of the I Ching, her research into Chinese contemplative practice was recognized with a Contemplative Practice Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies.
Yin Mei is a Professor of Dance and Director of the Dance Program at Queens College, New York City University. She teaches contemporary dance, choreography, composition, Asian Performing Arts and tai chi, among other classes, and has choreographed for and directed numerous student performances. She has twice been the recipient of a Queens College Presidential Research Award for her choreographic work and has four times received an Innovative Teaching Award from the College for developing original course offerings focusing on the intersection between Asian traditional movement and contemporary dance, including (most recently) a course entitled “Light In Performance” in conjunction with a Queens College Physics professor. Yin Mei has offered master classes and seminars worldwide and has been a guest instructor and artist-in-residence at Brown University, the University of Alaska, Arizona State University and the Beijing Dance Academy. She received her B.A., M.F.A. and coursework toward a Ph.D. from New York University.