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A blossoming initiative to recognize and elevate Asian creatives working in ballet, this program of Asian and Asian American choreography—co-curated by Final Bow for Yellowface’s Phil Chan—features The Washington Ballet, BalletMet, and Oakland Ballet Company. These performances celebrate the 75th anniversary of Singaporean choreographer Choo San Goh (1948-1987) who brought The Washington Ballet international acclaim, plus works by BalletMet’s Edwaard Liang—the first Asian Artistic Director for a major American ballet company, Phil Chan and Caili Quan for Oakland Ballet Company, and the Minnesota debut of choreographer Brett Ishida.
Fives by Choo San Goh, The Washington Ballet
when shall we three meet again by Brett Ishida,The Washington Ballet
Ballet des Porcelaines by Phil Chan, Oakland Ballet Company
Layer Upon Layer by Caili Quan, Oakland Ballet Company
Finding Light pas de deux by Edwaard Liang, BalletMet
Know Before You Go
- Performance Begins: Fri, Apr 12, 7:30 pm; Sat, Apr 13, 2:00 pm
- Accessibility: This event will be captioned, with other accessibility services available upon request.
- Detailed Event Information: Find Your Event Info link on your order confirmation or check your email within 48 hours for detailed information.
If you need assistance with your tickets, please call 612-624-2345, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn More - Explore These Themes
The content below derives from the Northrop Across Campus Program that supports Northrop's mission towards intersections between performing arts and education for the benefit of all participants now and for generations to come.
Find ways to make thematic connections to these suggested topics:
- Dance: Ballet, Modern/Contemporary
- Asian & Middle Eastern Studies
- Asian American Studies
- Art History
Take a deeper dive with these resources that provide additional information about the performers, the history of the artform, and the artistic process.
- The Washington Ballet—Company Website
- Final Bow for Yellowface - Website
- Ballet West - Final Bow for Yellow Face, Phil Chan
- The Harvard Crimson - 'Final Bow for Yellowface' Project Co-Founders Decry Racist Portrayals of Asians in Classical Ballet
- Dance Magazine - Final Bow for Yellowface Accelerates Plans to Lift Up Asian Dance Talent
- Mixed Asian Media - Final Bow For Yellowface
- Dance Magazine - A Fresh Cup of Tea: How to Make Nutcracker More Inclusive
- Oakland Ballet - Dancing Moons Festival
- BalletMet - Artistic Director Edwaard Liang
- The Washington Post - Choo San Goh’s Legacy of Joy
- Pointe Magazine - Choreographer Caili Quan: Studying Heritage Through Movement
- Ishida Dance - About the Artistic Director Brett Ishida
- Gale Family Library - Hmong-Americans in Minnesota: Overview
- Trace Elements - Episode 2, Remembering Choo San Goh
Start a conversation about the performance, or encourage reflection, using these questions as inspiration.
In April, Northrop will present 10,000 Dreams, a program of Asian and Asian American choreographers co-curated by Final Bow for Yellowface’s Phil Chan, featuring The Washington Ballet, BalletMet, and Oakland Ballet Company. The program marks the first time Northrop has presented ballet by Asian choreographers, and is a celebration of Asian creatives—both past and present—working in ballet.
- What do you suppose are the benefits of including three different dance companies in this program? Do you imagine this collaboration will illuminate a broader selection of perspectives?
- Why might this program be termed a “celebration?” How does calling it a celebration invite the audience to process the performances?
- What is the impact of including past works in the program? How might the older works add depth to the newer ones, and vice versa?
Final Bow for Yellowface was founded by Georgina Pazcoguin, New York City Ballet soloist, and Phil Chan, choreographer, arts administrator and educator, with a simple pledge: "I love ballet as an art form, and acknowledge that to achieve a diversity amongst our artists, audiences, donors, students, volunteers, and staff, I am committed to eliminating outdated and offensive stereotypes of Asians (Yellowface) on our stages." Since 2017, almost every major American ballet company has signed the pledge, and Pazcoguin and Chan have advised performing arts groups on how to maintain the integrity of works from the classical Western canon while updating outdated representations of Asians.
- What do you think of Final Bow for Yellowface’s decision to focus on updating rather than eliminating outdated ballets? How does this approach compare to and combat cancel culture?
- Beyond signing the pledge, what are other actions arts leaders can take to create more inclusive environments in historically Euro-centric art forms?
In his book Final Bow for Yellowface: Dancing Between Intention and Impact, Chan outlines the long history in America of demonizing Asians. “Adopting a caricature of the Chinese in our cartoons, propaganda, and theatrical productions helped us justify treating these new immigrants as less than full Americans, or even less than human. Whilethe Act II divertissement in The Nutcracker from 1892 was doubtfully created as a minstrel show, polluted imagery of the Chinese slowly seeped into our productions as an easy (arguably lazy) way to show audiences ‘Chinese.’”
- What is the difference between caricature and characterization in an artform like ballet? How might caricatures of cultural groups perpetuate harmful stereotypes?
- Why do you think it has taken so long for the larger ballet community to think critically about stereotyped portrayals, like those included in The Nutcracker?
- How do you think artistic companies can ensure that characters are portrayed with nuance and respect?
Choo San Goh, a major Sinagaporian-American ballet talent, who would have been 75-years-old this season, was The Washington Ballet’s resident choreographer and associate artistic director and brought the company international acclaim. In a tribute to the late choreographer, Oakland Ballet’s artistic director, Graham Lustig shared, “Choo San Goh’s legacy as a teacher, choreographer, and director, is a testament to his creative vision as a world-class artist and the visionary gift of his choreographic foundation continues to benefit many dance companies and choreographers.”
- How might Choo San Goh’s accomplishments have paved the way for Asian and Asian American choreographers to follow?
- Choo San Goh died at the age of 39, yet his choreographic works live on. How do you imagine Goh’s work has evolved since his passing?
- What is the impact of including his work, Fives, in this program, alongside contemporary pieces?
Choreographer Caili Quan, who will present her commissioned work, Layer upon Layer, has been commissioned by several ballet companies in the last several years to choreograph new ballets. Quan, who grew up in Guam, shared in an interview with Pointe Magazine, "No matter what the topic is that I end up researching for a dance, [Guam] always ends up creeping in."
- How does commissioning new works of art help shift representation in ballet? What might stay constant in Quan’s work as she creates for different groups of dancers?
- Why do you think a choreographer’s identity is inherently reflected in the work that they create? What does this say about the importance of representing diverse voices?
- Do you feel connected to your heritage? In what ways do you intentionally or unintentionally express your heritage?
Brett Ishida is a fourth generation Japanese American choreographer, who, according to her website, “intertwines reflections of ancient timeless themes of Greek philosophy and poetry with subconscious memories which shape who we are and where we are going.” At Northrop, she will present when shall we three meet again, based on the three witches in Shakespeare's Macbeth.
- Why are so many choreographers inspired by Shakespeare? How does the perspective on Shakespeare’s writings shift when the text is translated to movement?
- Do you think that Ishida’s Japanese American roots will inherently be reflected in when shall the three meet again? Do you draw creative inspiration from your cultural heritage, or a culture other than your own?
This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.