“Dance is the Hidden Language of the Soul” – Martha Graham

by Eddie Wong. Posted May 24, 2020.

Trying to figure out how to generate interesting content for East Wind Ezine while sheltering-in-place is challenging. But, where there is a will, there is a way.  Like many of you, I’m spending hours scrolling through videos on YouTube, following links recommended by our community artists like “First Voice” (Brenda Wong Aoki and Mark Izu) and Lenora Lee.  And lo and behold, there are many thoughtful, evocative art works being created as we are on lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  I’d like to share a few of the dance pieces that caught my eye. Martha Graham’s quote in the title of this post says it all.  Joy, pain, sorrow, happiness – all that life encompasses – can be expressed through movement.  There’s intrinsic beauty in allowing our bodies to sway, stutter, shatter, and shimmy.

Sara, my 27 year old autistic daughter, loves to dance.  Although her expressive language is limited, Sara finds infinite ways to express her love of life through dance.  For Sara, dance is joy.

The first video I’d like to highlight is by Ayana Yonesaka:

Hi friends, it’s been a while💙 Happy Earth Day.

I’ve been commissioned by First Voice to create a piece as an offering to Mother Earth. Please enjoy my newest creation, “地鳴り/ Jinari”.

Music by Jesse Ruiz
地鳴り/ Jinari: the rumbling of the earth

Born and raised in Sapporo, Japan, Ayana Yonesaka moved to San Francisco in 2009 to pursue her career in dance. Since graduating summa cum laude with a BA in Dance from San Francisco State University in 2013, she has worked in the Bay Area as a dance instructor, performer, and choreographer. In addition to teaching at San Francisco Youth Ballet Academy, RoCo Dance & Fitness, and ODC, she also directs ayanadancearts, a company she founded in 2017. Ayana aims to create highly innovative choreography that is rooted in contemporary dance aesthetics with a strong Japanese cultural narrative. Her work seamlessly navigates her Japanese and American identities, choreographing through a unique cross-Pacific framework. (Note: If the video does not open, please exit the article and go to this link – https://vimeo.com/410724512)

Lenora Lee Dance (LLD) started rehearsals for “And the Community Will Rise” on March 1, 2020. After two rehearsals, restrictions on public gatherings and shelter in place orders went into effect due to the global pandemic.

These are excerpts from our remote individual rehearsals in our homes and nearby spaces during shelter in place, March 2020.

Please consider contributing to our creative team, providing us a means to continue working during this period of survival. We are ever so grateful for your support.



Lenora Lee

Norman Fong, former Executive Director of Chinatown Community Development Center
filmed by Joel Wanek

(in order of appearance)
Hien Huynh, Lynn Huang, Megan Lowe, SanSan Kwan, Chloe Luo, Yi-Ting (Gama) Hsu, Johnny Nguyen, Melissa Lewis, Lenora Lee, Gabriel Christian, Anna Greenberg, Clarissa Dyas

directed by Francis Wong
with Karl Evangelista electric guitar, Helen Palma vocals, Deszon Claiborne percussion

Presented by Chinatown Community Development Center, Asian Improv aRts, and API Cultural Center

“And The Community Will Rise” is made possible in part by a grant from The Creative Work Fund, a program of the Walter and Elise Haas Fund that also is supported by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, a Kenneth Rainin Foundation Open Spaces Program grant, California Arts Council Creative California Communities grant, by Zellerbach Family Foundation, San Francisco Grants for the Arts, and by Generous Individuals. (Note: If the video does not play, leave the article and go to the following link: https://vimeo.com/402061201).

𝘙𝘪𝘵𝘸𝘢𝘭 𝘴𝘢 𝘉𝘢𝘪𝘣𝘢𝘪 by Alleluia Panis is the initial offering through the 𝘓𝘢𝘬𝘣𝘢𝘪 𝘋𝘪𝘸𝘢, 𝘋𝘪𝘢𝘴𝘱𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘤 𝘚𝘱𝘪𝘳𝘪𝘵 project as a creative response to the pandemic.⁣

𝐋𝐚𝐤𝐛𝐚𝐢 𝐃𝐢𝐰𝐚, 𝐃𝐢𝐚𝐬𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐜 𝐒𝐩𝐢𝐫𝐢𝐭 ⛵️
A public project by the Filipino American Development Foundation and Kularts that envisions creative tactics for collective cultural survival, healing, and decolonization. As our creative response to the pandemic, lead artist Alleluia Panis @alleluiasfprojects invited a number of Pilipinx artists to participate in creating a ritual/prayer/meditation to their own imagined protective spirits. They were tasked to honor and conjure the success of our ancestors’ oceanic journeys by creating Spirit Boat Offerings with objects symbolic of survival and wellness.⁣ (Note: If the video does not play, leave the article and go to the following link: https://vimeo.com/413650089)

Creator and Director: Alleluia Panis
Cinematographer and Editor: Wilfred Galila
Composer: Joshua Icban

The Xuejuan Dance Ensemble features young people who are studying Chinese Folk Dance under the direction of Qinling Li in Herndon, Virginia.  The dancers in this video provided by Atlas Obscura are Jessica Lin and Iliana Rong.

The final video is a profile of dancer and multi-media artist Sammay Dizon.  She is featured in the “Legacy and Lineage” video series directed by Laura Priscilla Paule for the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center’s “United States of Asian Pacific America” festival.  Videos about the work of Genny Lim, Isabelle Thuy Pelaud, Sami See and Francis Wong will also be released throughout May and June 2020.

Cover Photo:

Ayana Yonesaka performing “Jinari.”



  1. Lydia Tanji on May 25, 2020 at 5:44 pm

    What a treasure trove of talent! Thank you Eddie for sharing online, this is not only a treat, but an important historical archive that you’re creating.

  2. Eddie Wong on May 29, 2020 at 6:44 am

    Thanks for your kind words, Lydia. Much of what I produce for East Wind Ezine is for the historical record. For example, I have enjoyed meeting some Asian American Movement elders (who are only slightly older than me) who were active in the Civil Rights Movement and put their bodies on the line in the Deep South in the mid and late 1960s. I just haven’t seen their stories anywhere else and we must record these stories now. Similarly, artists are creating amazing work now and I’d like to use East Wind Ezine to give them wider exposure (if anyone reading likes a video or article, please share it) and provide a home where they can be viewed years and years from now.

    Lydia, i’d love your suggestions of other artists and subject to cover. As we continue to live in a semi-lockdown situation, having curated online exhibitions becomes a way to keep the conversation alive about art and performance.

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