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YIN MEI 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. Yin Mei was awarded a Fullbright Scholarship (2012
Hong Kong), 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. Yin Mei’s 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 The Red Dress at Lincoln Center March 2014
presented by the CAEG (Chinese Arts and Entertament Group) performed by the Ningbo
Dance Company of 45 dancers. (Directed by Wang Xiaoying). Her enening work
DIS/oriented, was a colaboration with composer Bora Yoon, play write Hansol Jang and
dancer Fei Bo. Soupported by the MAP Fund, premiered at the Asia Society New York
2013. Her recent evening-length work, Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove, was
commissioned by the Hong Kong Dance Company and premiered in Hong Kong with 25
dancers in March 2012. The work, widely seen as breaking new ground in combining
traditional and contemporary dance styles, featured innovative “live cinema” staging by
noted theater director Jay Scheib (Platonov, World of Wires, Bellona The Destroyer). In
April 2012, Yin Mei was the choreographer for a production of the opera Nixon In China
at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris under the direction of Chen Shi-Zheng (Peony
Pavillion). In 2010, Yin Mei choreographed the contemporary ballet A Scent of Time for
the Beijing Dance Academy’s 46 Ballet Company. In 2010, her evening-length dance
theater work City Of Paper, which was created in collaboration with visual designer
Tennessee Rice Dixon, premiered at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and toured the U.S.
thereafter. 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 and was presented at the Contemporary Theater
Festival in Shanghai, the Beijing Modern Dance Theater in 2006 and toured the U.S. in
2006-07. A solo evening Tea, collaborated with installation artist Gu Wenda, lighting
designer Lea Xiao and muscian Ralph Samulson at the Asia Society 2003. Other 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. 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.
Yin Mei’s choreography is described by critics in terms that reveal an uncanny, almost
magical, effect on audiences: Nomad: “real yet unreal, vivid yet somehow misted in
beauty, . . . [the work] brushes our minds with images whose poetry ensnares us, whose
enigmas taunt us” (Village Voice). /Asunder: “filled with movement that translates an
agony that is repeatedly saved with an embrace” (Dance Insider). Empty Tradition:
“[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” (New
York Times).
Yin Mei has also worked as a visual artist. Her combined performance/visual art work
entitled Cursive has been displayed at the Queens Museum, as part of the 2006/07
Biennial in 2006/07, and 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 also 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 Fulbright, the Guggamham, the
Creative Capital, 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 and director of Dance at Queens College, New York City
University. She teaches contemporary dance, choreography, Asian Performing Arts and
Tai Ji, Qi Gong, 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
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 Shanghai Theater
Academy, the University of Alaska, Arizona State University and the Beijing Dance
Academy. She received her B.A. from New York University and her M.F.A. from NYU’s
Tisch School.