Nai-Ni Chen, Whose Dances Merged East and West, Dies at 62

Nai-Ni Chen, a dancer and choreographer whose Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company has merged conventional Chinese and modern influences in performances all more than the United States as nicely as abroad for three many years, died on Sunday in a swimming incident even though vacationing in Hawaii. She was 62.

The incident occurred off Kailua Seaside in Oahu. Her partner and lover in the enterprise, Andrew N. Chiang, in a publishing on the company’s Fb webpage, said that Ms. Chen went for a swim in the ocean and that her body was identified by a passer-by.

Ms. Chen was born in Taiwan and came to the United States in 1982, arranging to get paid a master’s degree at New York College (which she ultimately did) and then return to her home country to teach. But the arts scene in New York proved irresistible.

“I was so psyched about the dancing in New York that I determined to stay somewhat than educate in Taiwan,” she explained to The TimesLedger of Queens in 2017.

Six years afterwards, she and Mr. Chiang begun the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Enterprise, which started undertaking in and all-around New York from its headquarters in Fort Lee, N.J. By the early 1990s, its touring circle had begun increasing, to start with to Massachusetts, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and then across the nation and beyond.

Ms. Chen experienced been educated in the regular dances of Taiwan and China ahead of settling in the United States, and her systems tended to give viewers members — quite a few of whom, in particular in the early many years, have been utilized to European-design and style dance — a distinct perspective of the artwork kind.

“I like to combine both equally aesthetics, Jap and Western,” she advised The Los Angeles Occasions in 1994. “My dancers and I experiment just about every day. I believe that that if I permit movement come out obviously from my human body, if I discuss the reality from my heart, it will convey my background — conventional Chinese motion and a Western dance vocabulary.”

The firm executed classic lover dances and ribbon dances, but also Ms. Chen’s very own performs, which drew on many influences. Her “Movable Figures,” for case in point, was inspired by Southeast Asian shadow puppetry. “Dragons on the Wall (Tianji)” suggests Chinese calligraphy. “Raindrops” evokes her girlhood in Taiwan.

“I try to remember as a baby I would sit in my grandmother’s home and see the raindrops slipping on the floor,” she instructed The Document of Bergen County, N.J., in 2003, when the work was on her program at the New Jersey Doing Arts Middle in Newark, a frequent prevent for the troupe. “It created such an fascinating audio — dut-dut-dut. It was pretty playful to me. Mysterious. It brought me ponder.”

Nai-Ni Chen was born on Oct. 31, 1959, in Keelung, on the coastline close to Taipei, to MayYun Wu, a instructor, and Hsing-Yin Chen, a dentist.

“My mother and father constantly took us out to get near to character, the ocean, the beach front and the mountains,” she told The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in 1996, when her organization executed in Fayetteville.

“Many of my dances are encouraged by mother nature,” she added. “That’s the Chinese way and philosophy: to emphasize the relation amongst human and mother nature. We attempt to uncover a harmony there.”

Greta Campo, a dancer and the company’s associate creative director, seasoned firsthand how Ms. Chen blended the several influences in her lifestyle and coaching.

“Her cultural track record was generally an inspiration for her,” she mentioned by electronic mail. “Nai-Ni Chen’s is effective are so one of a kind for the reason that they fused the flexibility of American present day dance with the grace and splendor of Asian art.”

Ms. Chen was uncovered to American tradition developing up in Taiwan, learning English as a second language and, as she informed The Document in 1988, looking at the flicks of “those two males — the extra fat a single and the slender a single who were constantly getting in issues.” That is, Laurel and Hardy.

She began taking dance lessons at 4 and acquired ballet and folk dance prior to enrolling, in her early teenagers, at the Chinese Lifestyle University in Taipei, whose curriculum bundled contemporary dance, jazz and Chinese martial arts.

She spent three years with the Cloud Gate Dance Theater, Taipei’s initial modern day dance corporation, and participated in many federal government-sponsored international tours. Mr. Chiang, who is Nai-Ni Chen Dance’s govt director, instructed The Star-Ledger in 1999 that he first satisfied his long term spouse in 1978, when she was between a group of browsing dancers who executed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technologies he was enrolled there and was the student pursuits coordinator.

“At that very first second, I knew she was likely to be my spouse,” he explained to the newspaper, whilst Ms. Chen explained she only vaguely remembered their first backstage experience. The two stayed in contact, and they married in 1982. Their daughter, Sylvia, also survives her.

Ms. Chen’s dance business usually done at universities, where in the early yrs pupils normally had little publicity to Chinese arts.

“The young ones just really like it,” she informed The File in 1992. “Chinese dance is very colourful, and it is totally new to them.”

She was specially anxious with putting throughout the impact of Asian lifestyle and Asian American immigrants on Western traditions. But it was a issue of delight to her that her troupe was multiracial and multinational. Getting dancers who could take care of the needs of mixing the standard and present-day was, she acknowledged, complicated, but she thought the hard work was worthwhile.

“I come to feel favourable since in the conclusion, the information we are trying to convey to men and women has almost everything to do with sharing cultures in this scaled-down and smaller sized modern day globe,” she advised The Star-Ledger in 1996. “People are interested, but there’s even now a long way to go. It can take a particular type of maturity to find a little something great in an additional, entirely different and pretty foreign society.”