-- Will Create Live Action/Cinematic Re-enactment of Antonioni’s Banned 1972 Documentary on China’s Cultural Revolution and Teach for One Year at Hong Kong Baptist University --
FLUSHING, N.Y., JUNE 23, 2011 – During Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, the People's Republic of China invited iconic film director Michelangelo Antonioni to shoot a documentary about the country. The result was Chung Kuo, a three-part, 210-minute film that – rather than glorifying the revolution – presented a straightforward, minimalist view of China in 1972. When Chung Kuo came out, the government attacked it as counterrevolutionary and anti-Chinese, sparking a yearlong national protest movement by billions of people who banned a movie they had never heard of or seen. Chung Kuo was prohibited in China till the late 1980’s.
As a young woman, QC dance professor and choreographer Yin Mei participated in that chaotic political campaign while being chosen as one of a group of “revolutionary” dancers to join the Henan Province Dance Company. Now, almost 40 years later, she will retrace Antonioni’s journey through China and film at his original sites. Film footage will be mixed with live-action sequences of staged contemporary dance performances to create a hybrid cinematic/live theater work currently called Antonioni in Chung Kuo – capturing a moment in time when art and political theater collided. The work, which will premiere in China in early 2012 and then go on international tour, is being supported by a Multi-Arts Production (MAP) Fund grant –Yin Mei’s fourth.
Adding to her growing list of artistic and scholarly achievements, Yin Mei has also been awarded a Fulbright U.S. Scholar grant to serve as a visiting professor in the Humanities department at Hong Kong Baptist University. Beginning this September, she will teach an interdisciplinary course on contemplative dance that analyzes the mental process an artist goes through – and then translates into physical practice – in the creation of a performance piece. She will also conduct research on her ultimate goal of uniting Chinese and Western perspectives into multimedia dance works. “My objective is to develop a new paradigm that emphasizes dance’s powers of communication,” says Yin Mei. “Without using words, the universal language of dance allows us to explore the lines between dreaming and wakefulness, past and present, and magical and ordinary.”
“Yin Mei is an inspiration to her students and colleagues,” says QC Provost James Stellar. “Winning two such prestigious awards in one year is remarkable and speaks volumes about Yin Mei’s accomplishments as an innovative artist, performer, and educator.”
Yin Mei’s choreography has been hailed by the New York Times as “theatrical magic,” and by the Village Voice as inhabiting “the tremulous space where dramas and memories reside.” Yin Mei herself has been described as a “dancer of exquisite lyricism and delicacy” (New York Times) and a “stunning presence” (Dance Insider).
Yin Mei is a dance professor and director of the dance program at Queens College, where she has twice received the college’s Presidential Research Award for her choreography and four times received a QC Innovative Teaching Award for developing original course offerings. As a director, choreographer, and performance/visual artist, Yin Mei is also known for producing category-defying works that bridge geographic, technological, artistic, and cultural divides to create a unique brand of contemporary dance theater. Her choreography has been presented at leading national and international dance venues, and she has collaborated with an array of important visual artists, composers, and performers. In 2005 she received a Guggenheim fellowship for choreography. Through her company, Yin Mei Dance, she now choreographs and performs her contemporary work worldwide.
Sponsored by the U.S. Government, the Fulbright U.S. Scholar exchange program offers opportunities for American faculty to conduct research, lecture, and consult with other scholars abroad. Fulbright recipients are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. Operating in over 155 countries, the Fulbright program is one of the most prestigious awards programs in the world. Forty-three Fulbright alumni have won Nobel Prizes – including two in 2010, Peter A. Diamond and Ei-ichi Negishi – and 78 have won Pulitzer Prizes.
The Multi-Arts Production Fund was created by the Rockefeller Foundation in 1989 to support innovation and cross-cultural exploration in theater, dance, and music. MAP is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Among the longest-lived programs in arts philanthropy, MAP has disbursed over $20 million dollars to more than 800 projects. Since 2001, the fund has been administered by Creative Capital.