(WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.) – H.T. Chen & Dancers perform their latest work, “South of Gold Mountain,” on the ’62 Center’s MainStage at Williams College on Saturday, October 1, at 8pm. The performance – a Williams Dance Department commission – is rooted in the images and oral histories of the Chinese immigrants who settled in the American South prior to World War II.
Starting from the diaspora that led the Chinese to the American South, “South of Gold Mountain” is a collective journey of these individuals. Through the power of faith, tradition, and work ethic, these individuals experienced, endured, and overcame their hardships.
The Williams Davis Center (formerly the Multicultural Center) will host acclaimed John Jung, author/scholar and H.T. Chen & Dancers for a meet and greet on Friday, September 30th at 4 PM in Jenness House, room 103. Professor of psychology John Jung is the author of five books focusing on key aspects of the history of Chinese in America. Jung examines history beyond dates and events to highlight the life experiences of Chinese immigrants as a commentary on the larger experience. “I grew up in Macon, Georgia,” says Jung, “where I was born to Chinese immigrant parents who operated a laundry during the years before the civil rights era. It was difficult for me to understand who I was, ethnically speaking…Even after we moved to San Francisco, it was still difficult for me to know what it meant to be a Chinese American because I was so different from the San Francisco Chinese who had lived so closely among other Chinese all of their lives…I never aspired to write more than one book about Chinese Americans but in the course of doing research to further my understanding of how and why my parents ended in Georgia, and how they were treated… my books [have come to] share the common goal of exploring how Chinese immigrants, starting from the late 1800s until beyond the middle of the past century, managed to overcome the hostile societal prejudices against Chinese and other ‘Orientals.'” Jung’s works include, Chopsticks in the Land of Cotton: Lives of Mississippi Delta Chinese Grocers, Southern Fried Rice: Life in A Chinese Laundry in the Deep South, and Chinese Laundries: Tickets to Survival on Gold Mountain. This afternoon tea and cookies event is free and open to the public.
The Dance Department’s commission of “South of Gold Mountain” is designed to explore lost histories; paying tribute to the livelihoods of Chinese grocers, laundries, restaurants, and those who quietly persevered to make a difference in the communities in which they lived. Additionally, the department’s commitment to long-term residencies allows students the opportunity to have a sustained engagement with world-class artists. Five members of the Department’s resident ensembles — CoDa, Kusika, and Sankofa — will be performing with the H.T. Chen Company, in addition to two local school children.
H.T. Chen & Dancers is an innovative modern dance company which has created a uniquely Asian-American expression by embodying its cultural heritage. Infusing Western modern dance with the strength and beauty of Asian aesthetics, the Company’s dynamic style has enchanted audiences across the United States, Europe and Asia since its inception in 1978.
For tickets, visit the Williams ’62 Center Box Office Tues-Sat, 1-5 pm or call (413) 597-2425.