Teatro Esperanza presents The Faith Project/The Door: Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers

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The Faith Project/The Door: Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers presented by Teatro Esperanza

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. Philadelphia, PA –  February 28, 2020. Following their sold-out performance last season, Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers return to the Teatro Esperanza stage with Faith Project/The Door. Described as “an ever-expansive and inspired choreographic journey,” Faith Project/The Door spotlights connections between faith traditions from around the world in dance and movement.

Faith Project/The Door is an abstract dance work created by Kun-Yang Lin that contemplates the relationship between religious practice and contemporary dance. An important part of the project consisted of “story circle” encounters with community participants from various faith perspectives, dance artists and other artistic collaborators. Engaging with practitioners of diverse spiritual outlooks, Lin and his dance artists considered the role movement plays in religious rituals and actions.

Through the process of creating this dance, KYL/D worked with Interfaith Philadelphia to recruit community participants, who engaged in verbal and physical activities with the dancers and the project’s multimedia and sound design collaborators. KYL/D collaborated with Kimerer LaMothe—a scholar working at the intersection of dance and religion to structure the story circle conversations.

Major support for the original creation and performance of Faith Project was provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support from The National Endowment for the Arts and Temple University. Faith Project premiered in March 2018 at Prince Theater.

For more information on the creative process and the collaborators involved in the original creation of Faith Project, please visit: https://www.kyld.org/faithproject 

WHEN: Friday, March 6, 2020, 7:30pm
WHERE: Teatro Esperanza, 4261 North 5th Street, Philadelphia PA 19140. Free parking available in the Bristol Street lot.

TICKETS: $15 adults, FREE for students and seniors.

Interview with Artistic Director, Kun-Yang Lin

Faith Project explores religious differences and spiritual commonalities through dance and music by spotlighting a variety of faith traditions from around the world. What were some keys insights you and the dancers gained as a result of your work on this production?

First, working with scholar Kimerer Lamonthe, we posed to the dance artists and story circle participants: What do you love the most? What do you fear the most? What is the source of your greatest strength? She encouraged the participants to determine one answer that applied to all three questions. For example, for one dance artist, her answer was “freedom.” That drove the work and allowed me and the dancers to gain a broader perspective into religion and spirituality. This process also allowed me to see that being too close to a work often results in a lack of objective perspective which may result in one not being able to realize the work completely to its greatest potential. Most importantly, through the process of researching, listening, dancing in story circles, developing, and creating, both myself and the dancers learned a lot about who we are as artists.

Have the new discoveries you’ve made in the creation and presentation of this piece affected your work as an artist and you personally?

This project has led me to a number of important insights and discoveries: trust the body and its unique energy (CHI), a better understanding and empathy of each individual dancer’s faith background, allowing myself and the ensemble to be vulnerable and more open to the creative process, allowing differences to find their own place in discussions, and creating work in movement with the body as a ‘temple’ using dance as prayer.

An important prelude to the creation of Faith Project/THE DOOR and to each performance are the convening of story circles that integrate movement into a dialogue between participants of diverse backgrounds. Could you describe how the content and outcomes of these story circles have affected your performances since the premiere and will influence the upcoming production at Teatro Esperanza?

One story circle participant reflected, “I think my participation enhanced my appreciation further for the role that dance holds as a universal language that evokes the spiritual and religious gesture, the body language of prayer and soul movement of a community.”

Another story circle participant shared after the premiere of Faith Project, “my perspective on the collaboration of religion and dance changed. I had never experienced religious interpretation through the contemporary dance art form. My participation in this project has given me the ability to appreciate the process for creating new work even more. As an audience member, you are able to appreciate the finished product, but as a participant, I felt even more involved and invested in the presented work.”

It was a true act of love and passion and compassion that occurred during our rehearsals and the premiere of this piece. There was only a slim chance of achieving what we achieved during the performance, and it was because everyone involved in this project and production all stepped in line with each other with an almost absolute personal commitment to one another and the work itself.

I believe the audience, community members, and students of Esperanza will be able to witness and experience this same collective energy through this upcoming production at Teatro Esperanza. The performance may change your understanding of the role/possibilities/relevance/ability of contemporary dance in fostering dialogue among people of different spiritual orientations and faiths.

Most importantly, in order to spotlight the power of dance, KYL/D will present a new version of Faith Project/ The Door at Esperanza – one without sets, and without multimedia – that will allow us to connect with one another more directly through the true joy of the spirit of dance.

For media coverage, please contact Bill Rhoads at (215) 324-0746 ext. 313 or at brhoads@esperanza.us

About Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers (KYL/D). Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers (KYL/D) is a professional dance company located in Philadelphia. Founding Artistic Director, Kun-Yang Lin’s zen-inspired practice of dance manifests in lush works of poetic sensibility that The New York Times says “create and inhabit worlds of their own.” Lin draws upon insights from his ongoing research throughout Asia, creating a personal movement language that is suffused with strong spiritual underpinnings.
KYL/D has performed around the world, including at the Tanzmesse International Dance Festival (Dusseldorf), Busan International Dance Festival (Korea), Jogia International and AsiaTri festivals (Indonesia), Festival Internacional de Danza in Queretaro (Mexico), Victoria Theatre (Singapore), HsinChu Performing Arts Center (Taiwan).
In the U.S., KYL/D has performed at Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival, Interlochen Festival, Columbia Festival, Kaatsbaan International Dance, Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out, Dancing in the Streets Festival, the Painted Bride Art Center, the Annenberg Center, the Kimmel Center, the Forrest Theater, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Barnes Foundation, and Philadelphia’s City Hall.
KYL/D has been supported by numerous funders including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the Jerome Robbins Foundation, the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, the William Penn Foundation and a USArtists International grant from MidAtlantic Arts Foundation, as well as support from the U.S. Department of State.
The company’s primary programs include the creation and performance of original dance works by its professional ensemble, direct education and outreach activities for youth (CHI Dance), community engagement activities on-site at the company’s center, CHI Movement Arts Center (CHI MAC), and professional development services for established and emerging artists (InHale Performance Series).

About Kun-Yang Lin. Kun-Yang Lin is founding Artistic Director of Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers (“KYLD”) & co-founder of KYL/D’s CHI Movement Arts Center in Philadelphia. Taiwan-born Lin probes at the limits of national identity, drawing upon Eastern philosophy while expanding the perimeter of Western contemporary dance. Lin has won numerous awards in Taiwan and been widely recognized in the U.S. for both his dancing and choreography including, in 2002 by Back Stage, which named him “the year’s most promising choreographer in NYC.” Lin has been on the faculty of The Yard on Martha’s Vineyard, H.B. Actor’s Studio, Peridance International Dance Center and The Limon Institute and he offers master classes and workshops throughout the U.S. and abroad. Currently, Lin is Professor of Dance at Temple University. Lin received his MFA from New York University’s Tisch School (on full scholarship) and his BFA from Taiwan National University of the Arts. He currently serves as KYL/D’s Executive Artistic Director.

About Esperanza Arts Center. Guided by Esperanza’s core values of faith, integrity, and excellence, Esperanza Arts Center is the center for Latino performing arts in the Philadelphia region, spotlighting the rich spectrum of traditions from Central and South America and the Caribbean, as well as other cultures from around the world, creating positive transformational experiences for students, families, and attendees of all ages through the arts. For more information visit www.esperanzaartscenter.us

About Esperanza. Esperanza is a national community-based social benefit organization founded in 1986 by Rev. Luis Cortés and the Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia & Vicinity with the biblical mandate to serve and advocate for “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40). Beginning with a local initiative, with programs targeted to address the unmet needs of North Philadelphia’s Hispanic community, Rev. Cortés is now sought by national and international leaders alike on issues of economic and workforce development, housing, immigration, and education. Under his leadership, Esperanza has grown from a small operation to a $50 million organization with more than 500 employees. Follow us on social media @esperanza_us on Twitter and Instagram, EsperanzaUSA on Facebook and Esperanza US on YouTube.