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Choreographer Lenora Lee and Chinatown Community Development Center are collaborating to create and present a new site-specific, multimedia, immersive dance project, And the Community Will Rise, which was intended to premiere in the Ping Yuen housing complex in San Francisco Chinatown in September 2020 but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Twelve site-specific performances will transform selected spaces, courtyards, and apartments in Ping Yuen. Along with Lee’s choreography, performances will feature media design by Olivia Ting, original music by Francis Wong, and voiceover from interviews with former and current residents of the Ping Yuen, Chinatown advocates, and historians.

The Ping Yuen housing complex, which opened in 1952, was the first public high-rise housing in the United States. It was meant to serve Chinese American families but later was integrated. In 2014, Chinatown Community Development Center (Chinatown CDC), which has served the Chinatown neighborhood for 40 years, became responsible for the Ping Yuen. And the Community Will Rise advances Chinatown CDC’s use of quality arts experiences as part of a comprehensive neighborhood preservation strategy.

Lenora Lee, a dancer, choreographer, artistic director, and producer for 20 years, has created large-scale performance works that are deeply rooted in the Chinatown and Asian American communities. She currently teaches dance and martial arts to Chinatown community members. And the Community Will Rise will reflect on Ping Yuen residents’ stories and community history at a time of growing displacement in Chinatown.

Photo by Lei Chen