On Friday, June 4 and Saturday, June 5 at 8 PM, PMT Seasonal Showcase Company presents J. Chen Project in its first evening-length performance, Walk with Me: a journey into the light, at the PMT Dance Studio at 69 West 14th Street in Manhattan. Walk with Me, commissioned by PMT Seasonal Showcase Company and choreographed by Jessica Chen, comprises seven individual pieces that tell one story. Dedicated to bringing other art forms into her repertory, Ms. Chen has collaborated with a community of artists, including a novelist, a video artist, a composer, and several photographers to create an athletic and emotionally evocative performance. Chen’s choreography blends a wide range of genres including classical, modern, street, and cultural dances, set on dancers with training from the Ailey School, Purchase College, Montclair State University, and other renowned programs.
“This story is a journey from darkness into light,” comments Chen. “The world is going through a difficult time right now—financial crises, natural disasters, the list goes on. I am hopeful that it will all turn out to be good in the end.” Inspired by an incident in which she and her father miraculously avoided a catastrophic collision on the 101 Freeway in Los Angeles after their tire blew out, Chen envisioned a dance work that was “a metaphor for dying—but also a metaphor for living. When you survive death, you decide to live. You are essentially reborn.” She translated her near-death experience to the stage by creating the seven individual dances, each of which represents “a different moment, a different experience that changes you. We will use choreography and video and audio material to take the audience on a journey.”
Chen is “truly honored and grateful” to PMT Seasonal Showcase Company and founder Pavan Thimmaiah for this commission. “PMT gave me my first opportunity to showcase work in New York City in 2008, which was a springboard for my career. They provided me with a professional production crew, a warm audience, and three sold-out performances.” Chen, who has been teaching contemporary dance at PMT since late 2009, describes the studio as “a safe home for me to experiment and develop my voice as a choreographer. It makes perfect sense to premiere my first evening show there, and these performances will help me take J. Chen Project to the next level.”
The mission of J. Chen Project is to unveil extraordinary, authentic artistry through the empowerment of movement and the expression of choreography. Its goal is to foster dialogue among dancers, choreographers, and audiences on ways the dance community contributes to creating solutions to issues facing humanity today. This season includes performances at festivals that include DUMBO Dance Festival, the HATCH, Solar Powered Dance Series, Amnesty International’s Human Rights Arts Festival, Choreographer’s Canvas, Green Space Blooms, and Hawaii’s National Dance Week.
Jessica Chen is a New York-based choreographer. She holds a bachelor of arts in global studies with emphases in socioeconomics and politics from the University of California at Santa Barbara. A California native, she moved to NYC to study at The Ailey School and has worked with choreographers who include Earl Mosley, Julian Barnett, Camille A. Brown, and Juan-Antonio Rodriguez of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and members of Naganuma Dance. As a commercial dancer, she has toured internationally with hip-hop artist and America’s Best Dance Crew judge Lil Mama and appeared in a Marc Ecko commercial with Vanessa Hudgens.
Founded by dancer and choreographer Pavan Thimmaiah, PMT Seasonal Showcase Company is a nonprofit organization that stages professional productions featuring some of today’s best choreographers, dance companies, and artists from TV, video, stage, and film. The company provides its performers with opportunities for exposure, with many acts using the PMT stage to achieve greater success, performing in prestigious venues and attracting media attention. It also offers its participants rehearsal space, professional photography services, and program advertising at no cost, and selected acts receive individual, full-length showcases. Additionally, the company prides itself on its ability to offer heavily discounted tickets to underprivileged young people who would not be able to afford to see performances of this caliber. Its primary goal is to provide the best possible experience for both its performers and its audience members.