Yin Mei Critchell, professor of dance in the Drama, Theatre and Dance Department and director of the dance program, is a director/choreographer/performance artist known for category-defying works that fearlessly bridge geographic, technological, artistic, and cultural divides to create 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 is uniquely positioned to explore themes of artistic and spiritual significance arising at the intersection of Asian traditional performance and Western contemporary dance. She has collaborated with an astonishing array of important artists, from well-known visual artists such as MacArthur Award-winning Xu Bing and Cai Guo Giang (China) and composers Robert Een (U.S.) and Tony Prabowo (Indonesia), to interactive computer artist/researcher Christopher Salter and performers as varied as Tibetan modern dancer Sang Jijia (former William Forsythe dancer), traditional Balinese masked dancer I Nyoman Catra, and downtown dance luminary Jeanine Durning. Yin Mei received a Guggenheim Fellowship for Choreography in 2004 and has been named a Choreography Fellow from the New York Foundation for the Arts.
Born in China, Yin Mei started her professional career in traditional Chinese dance as a child during the Cultural Revolution, taking numerous 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 has been described as a “dancer of exquisite lyricism and delicacy” (New York Times) and “a stunning presence, bringing her classical Chinese dance training and aesthetic into a blend with her adopted Downtown sensibilities with refined grace” (Dance Insider). Her work has been performed at such well-known New York venues as Lincoln Center, City Center, Dance Theater Workshop, and Danspace at St. Mark’s Church, as well as at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and numerous other theaters and performance spaces in the United States and abroad.
In collaboration with dancer/choreographer Sang Jijia, Yin Mei is developing a mixed media installation/performance work titled City of Paper. She displayed and performed a version of this work as part of the Queens Museum Biennial art exhibition in 2006/07; 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’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, the Jerome Foundation, Meet The Composer, Arts International, Greenwall Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Dance Force, Asian Cultural Council, Bossak/Heibron Charitable Foundation, and the Research Foundation of City University of New York. A longtime practitioner and teacher of tai chi and the I Ching, Yin Mei received a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies in recognition of her research into Chinese contemplative practice.
At Queens College, Yin Mei teaches contemporary dance, choreography, composition 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 a Queens College Innovative Teaching Award for developing original course offerings focusing on the intersection between Asian traditional movement and contemporary dance, including (most recently) a course titled “Light In Performance” in conjunction with a Queens College Physics professor. Yin Mei has also 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 has completed a BA, MFA, and coursework toward a PhD from New York University.