Nai-Ni Chen

Choreographer/Artistic Director

"Spiritual Choreographer"  -Dance Magazine

"A rare modern dance choreographer..."
-NY Times      

Nai-Ni Chen comes from a rich dance tradition. She was a renowned traditional dancer in Taiwan and served on several ambassadorial culture missions to 19 countries around the world as a bearer of the classical dance tradition for the Republic of China (Taiwan) at age 17. An early principal member of the Cloud Gate Dance Theater in Taiwan and the youngest, she began her modern dance training in 1976, and graduated from the Chinese Cultural University in 1982 while maintaining a professional dance career.  Feeling the call for the freedom of modern dance and a vision to create new dances from the old, she came to America to seek her own voice in the world of dance.  In New York, she studied with Doris Rudko, Bertram Ross and Mary Anthony.  After receiving her Master degree from NYU and encouraged by Mary Anthony, she started to work with a small group of diverse dancers while performing with The King and I and Tony Award winning play M’Butterfly.

Since the inception of her Company in 1988, Ms. Chen has created a wide-ranging repertory, bridging the dynamic freedom of American Modern Dance with the elegant splendor of Asian Art. Her unique approach allowed her to create signature works that reflect the struggle of the Chinese people in the past century in Dragons on the Wall-TianJi with Poet Bei Dao;  addressing the Buddhist and Taoist vision of fate, destiny and human relationships, she created Unbroken Thread and Not Alone; paying homage to the beauty of Chinese traditional art and philosophy, she created Calligraffiti, Calligraphy I & II, Raindrops and The Way of Five. She is a Principal Affiliate Artist of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) working on activities that engage in community outreach, new works and the preservation of the Chinese American tradition.  This relationship has helped her to bring her work to every borough of New York City, bringing American audience closer to Chinese art.  

Ms. Chen has received a two year Choreographer’s Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and Choreographer’s Fellowship from New Jersey State Council on the Arts three times.  She was also given Cultural Ambassador award from the Organization of Chinese Americans and Outstanding Artist from the International Institute of New Jersey.

Nai-Ni Chen has taught master classes at colleges and universities throughout the United States and at dance festivals in China, Poland, Russia and Taiwan. Besides creating dances for her own Company, she choreographed Unconquered Warrior for Dancing Wheels of Cleveland, Ohio, Tiger and Water Lily for Ballet Met in Columbus, Ohio, and The Three Riddles of Turandot for New Jersey Ballet.