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Zhaoxin Chen (Fremont) collaborating with Chinese Performing Arts Foundation (San Francisco)

Award: $40,000 Traditional Arts grant awarded in 2017

Premiere: May 20, 2018, Flint Center, De Anza College

Zhaoxin Chen (David Z. Chen) and the Chinese Performing Arts Foundation are creating the Jing-Kun Project, which focuses on introducing new audiences to the venerable traditions of classical Chinese drama in the Beijing (“Jing”) and Kunqu (“Kun”) styles. Classical Chinese drama has dozens of regional varieties of which Jingju and Kunqu are foremost.

Growing up in China, lead artist Zhaoxin Chen was trained in Chinese drama. He later served as a choreographer, playwright, and director at Shanghai Song and Drama Academy. After emigrating to the United States in 1987, he began teaching, and in 1995, he founded Academy of Chinese Performing Arts to promote Chinese folk and contemporary dance. Through this project, he hopes to share his craft and develop an audience and a cohort of skilled performers for classical Chinese drama in the Bay Area.

For the Jing-Kun project, Chen will stage a program of best-loved scenes from the Jingju and Kunqu repertoires to be performed by young artists. He will work closely with playwright Jon Lowe to create English supertitles and a new short piece to be performed in English. Performers will be drawn from Mr. Chen’s dance school, new inductees from Bay Area dance and theater communities, and professional actors. In this way, project partners plan to achieve high production values while also transmitting the tradition to younger generations. Chinese Performing Arts Foundation has a 24-year history of promoting Chinese culture in the Bay Area. It is serving as an associate producer for the project and facilitating the artistic partnership between Mr. Chen and Mr. Lowe.