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IN MEMORIAM:

MOMO
NAGANO KWONG

Sept. 16, 1925 -
Mar. 31, 2010

Momo Nagano

On March 31, 2010 my beloved mother Momo passed away in Los Angeles. She was 84. Momo was at home, as she would have wished, and surrounded by my three sisters. I'm grateful for that small blessing. I was in Philadelphia at the time and returned home the next morning...

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NOW BOOKING:


WHAT?

NO PING-PONG BALLS?

      A Mother’s story. An Asian American story. An Artist’s story

Co-Directed by PAGE LEONG, Music by KENNY ENDO, Lighting Design JOSE LOPEZ

Dan teams up with world-reknowned taiko artist Kenny Endo in a moving, insightful and hilarious tribute to Kwong’s late mother, Momo Nagano. It’s the tale of a JA woman from "the greatest generation", living life unapologetically as a single parent and artist, joyously defying society's limitations, improvising as she goes.

5" TRAILER:

With a steady compass for social justice, a keen eye for irony and a flair for the absurd, Kwong traces Nagano’s journey from all-American girlhood in Los Angeles to WWII internment camp; from defiant marriage with a Chinese immigrant to single divorcee with four young kids; from urban housewife to Venice Beach artist. As Nagano’s path traverses the terrain of the Civil Rights Movement, modern feminism and hippie counter-culture, we witness this woman’s stubborn determination and fierce motherly devotion.

Along the way Kwong shares his experiences as the only son, providing his signature comedy through puppetry, props and song – and, as Nagano herself has a sense of humor that shines throughout -- demonstrating that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

In researching single motherhood, Kwong was struck by the absence of Asian Americans in any data; an invisibility which resonates with much of the Asian American experience in general. By including video interviews with other Japanese American single moms from the 1960s through today, Kwong weaves the uniqueness of their experiences into the show while revealing commonalities from their cultural background.

WNPPB is rich with multimedia: home movies, animation, documentary footage, archival family photos and period television clips, all transport the audience into the world of an unusual woman and her creative version of family.

Immensely entertaining, WNPPB also informs and educates about Japanese-American internment; single Asian American mothers of multiple generations; the evolution of contemporary women’s rights and the American family.

BOOKING INFO:    dkbb12@aol.com



ALSO BOOKING:

IT'S GREAT 2B AMERICAN

IT’S GREAT 2B AMERICAN is a funny, fierce, highly political piece inspired by Kwong's travels in Asia from 1999-2005. In a darkly humorous search for an American identity beyond arrogance, denial and guilt, Dan confronts the Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde within the Yankee psyche: from champion of democracy to imperialist bully.

Along the way, Dan inspects the carry-on baggage that comes with a U.S. passport and Asian face; the irony of being “oppressed minority” at home yet a privileged citizen of the great global powerhouse when abroad.

IG2BA is equal parts documentary travelogue, satirical dance review, irreverent history lesson, and poignant storytelling.

From the Japanese American internment camps of WWII to the secret American bombing of Cambodia to tourist shopping in Bali to the events of September 11th, IG2BA is a timely, hard-hitting work that boldly and humorously speaks to America’s place in the world -- its checkered past, troubled present and hopeful future.

VIDEO CLIPS:
excerpt: Classroom Patriots 


xcrpts:
Letters from America / Preachin' to the Choir

excerpts: Passport to Conquest / Navy Blue & Gold


excerpt: In Cambodia


excerpt: Cognitive Dissonance


excerpts: Laos / Dance of The Big Stick

 



from the deep archives...

The passing of musical genius Prince in Spring of 2016 reminds us that Dan's very first professional performance piece in 1989 was inspired by a Prince song, "Housequake". In a blatant act of cultural appropriation, Dan re-wrote it into a pissed-off commentary on Japanese American internment camps of WWII. "Housequake" became "How's Camp?", and was performed by Dan all over the country in the early/mid-90s.

Here it is as part of "The Decade Show" in NYC back in 1991 (curated by Laura Trippi), seen in this dark, grainy pre-digital video -- old school multimedia performance art with slide projectors clacking away...

Thank you, Prince. You were endlessly funky to the max.

 

 


BLOGGISH-NESS:


DAN WINS!

April 18, 2017:  Dan was delighted to be notified of his selection as a recipient of the City of Santa Monica Artist Fellowship. Winners of this prestigious award (given annually to two artists) are chosen by a panel of curators and arts professionals and approved by the Santa Monica Arts Commission. Dan was also delighted that his co-awardee was his friend D’Lo, with whom Dan has performed in the past. This is a wonderfully satisfying turn of events and one which Dan hopes is a sign of things to come. Let the Universe continue to respond positively!

 


SAM KWONG, Rest in Peace

 

April 15, 2017:  In a simple graveside ceremony on a beautiful spring day, Sam Kwong’s ashes were laid to rest in Mountain View Cemetery in Walla Walla, Washington.

 

Didi and Dad

Dan flew to Walla Walla accompanied by his middle sister Didi (who came in from Seattle) as family representatives.

 

They were joined at the cemetery by a dozen or so dear friends of their father.

Norm Friant says goodbye to his buddy Sam

Sam passed away on Sepember 21st last year from complications after surgery. (see posting far below)

Dan handcrafted a wooden box to hold his father’s ashes.

Dad's resting place in the Veterans section

It was a perfect sunny day as Sam’s remains were placed in the earth.

 

Later that day a memorial luncheon was held at the home of Chas and Trish McKhann, and many more people came together to honor the life of Sam Kwong.

Dear family friend Chas, with Sam's ex-wife Wen Cui

 

Anneli's father Ron Carlson was one of Sam's oldest & dearest friends

 

Friends Sue, Heidi, Norm with Didi

 

Jane's late husband a good friend; Ron, tennis pal; Keiko, artist friend

 

Joan and Pierre-Louis, two friends who loved Sam so well

 

Yifan, wife Jun, their newborn baby, Justin

It was a moving tribute to a man who was loved by many. Especially his son...


TEACHING IN VIETNAM

Saigon International Film School

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

March 4-20, 2017: Dan spent 2 weeks in Vietnam teaching acting at Saigon International Film School. Originally it was colleague Nobuko Miyamoto who was asked to come, but due to a schedule conflict she suggested Dan go in her place. Lucky him!

The invitation was extended by Ham Tran and “Jayvee” Mai The Hiep, two former members of Club O’ Noodles, the ground-breaking Vietnamese American performance ensemble which came out of Cal State Northridge in the early 90s. Nobuko directed their first major production, Laughter From The Children of War, and was instrumental in the artistic development of the group. In 1998, Jayvee was also part of one of Dan’s autobiographical performance workshops for Asian men.

Director Ham Tran

Having returned to Vietnam in the last seven years or so, both Ham and Jayvee and have made a big splash in the film industry there: Ham has directed four feature films in the last five years and has become a highly-respected film director in Vietnam;

Actor/Producer "Jayvee" Mai The Hiep

Jayvee has acted in all of Ham’s films as well as serving as producer on some, and recently launched his own production company. He is about to release his first film in May 2017. Talk about two rising stars!

 

The film industry in Vietnam is booming, with the number of local productions doubling and tripling in the last few years. However, from Ham and Jayvee’s perspective, the talent pool of actors is inadequate to meet demand. Jayvee and Ham are determined to address this by developing the next generation of Vietnamese actors. Hence the invitation to come teach!

Some delightful students!

 

Dan taught two separate classes with fifteen and seventeen students, ranging in age from 16 to 30 years old. Jayvee served as Dan’s primary translator and support person.

Using the aikido concept of ma'ai to practice spatial awareness

 

Meeting three times a week for three hours at a time, students experienced many of Dan’s techniques (also used in Great Leap’s Collaboratory program), customized for this situation.

Students practiced listening to each other

 

The main goal was for students to explore their own stories and be able to access genuine emotion. This was accomplished with great success!

Ye olde mirror exercise...

 

In the last few days, students quickly prepared brief scenes from their stories for a final presentation. After witnessing their work, the school director was delighted at what students were able to draw from within themselves.

They became quite good at listening!

 

At the end, several students remarked that the two weeks had been life-changing, giving them a chance to look at powerful and meaningful moments in their lives with permission to feel and express their emotions.

Happy students

The school Director was impressed enough to invite Dan to return in the Fall and help develop a curriculum to prepare students to work professionally.

 

Saigon traffic: in a word, YUCK

 

Dan was able to squeeze in a bit of sightseeing. Visiting the "Wartime Remnants Museum" was deeply moving, seeing the war from a Vietnamese perspective;

 

 

A relaxing boat ride on the Mekong River and visiting small towns was a welcome relief from the urban pollution of Saigon.

Escape from the smog!

 

Rice skins  - for your Spring rolls - drying in the sun

 

The Cu Chi tunnels, once part of the vast Viet Cong tunnel system and now a tourist attraction, were utterly fascinating. The ingenuity, determination and hardships faced by the Vietnamese people during wartime was extraordinary.

Now you see me --

-- now...

 

The visit to Cu Chi also included taking a few shots on the live firing range -- bizarrely located right next to the open-air gift shop.

 

For $20 you can fire 10 bullets from a variety of war-era weapons.

 

In case you were curious, an AK-47 is VERY loud.

 

 

Dan's hotel -- former S. Vietnamese military headquarters

 

It was another wonderful growth-filled experience, and Dan is looking forward to returning to teach in September! In the meantime he’s looking for a good Vietnamese language class or tutor...

 



LECTURES IN JAPAN 2016

Dan's guest lodgings... (NOT!)

KOBE UNIVERSITY, Kobe city

September 24, 2016: Flying to Japan just 48 hours after his father died (which was rather surreal), Dan was a featured lecturer at the Annual Conference of the Asian American Literature Association of Japan, hosted by Kobe University. Dan spoke on the subject of "Transnational Collaboration in Asian American multimedia performance". It was his fifth visit to Kobe University since 2007, where he is beginning to feel right at home! He also gave a lecture on his use of music in performance (with a brief performance) for Prof. Hideyuki Yamamoto's "Musical Theater" class. Thanks to Professor Yamamoto for the invitation!

 

In between lecture engagements Dan had time to vacation in Kyoto, where he was able to offer prayers for his father's spirit at beautiful ancient temples such as Kinkaku-ji (above) and Kiyomizu-dera (below)

Bon voyage, Pops...

 

AICHI PREFECTURAL UNIVERSITY - Nagoya

October 4, 2016: Dan returned to Nagoya (home of Toyota!) for his third visit to APU give a lecture on "WHAT? NO PING-PONGBALLS?", his piece about his late mother. Thanks to Professor Mizuho Murayama for bringing Dan back!

 



IN MEMORIAM:

PASSING OF SAM KWONG

September 21, 2016: Dan's father Sam passed away peacefully at home, due to complications from surgery. He was 86.

Samuel Shu Kit Kwong

April 13, 1930 - September 21, 2016

 

Since around 2012 dementia increasingly took its toll on Sam's well-being. Finally the difficult decision was made to return Sam to L.A. In February 2016 he left Walla Walla, WA. to come to live with Dan.

A sad farewell to Walla Walla and Sam's beautiful home of 28 years

 

Sam left behind many wonderful memories, including life with his devoted third wife, Wen Cui Zhao. As both of them loved to cook, they shared some fantastic meals, many of which Dan had the pleasure to partake in.

  

Familiar kitchen-action at 18 Shangri-La Court in Walla Walla

 

For the last 7.5 months of his life, Sam truly enjoyed his time in Santa Monica. Dan got him exercising, they took excursions to the Santa Monica Pier to ride the Ferris Wheel, visited his siblings in San Francisco, and enjoyed many family gatherings.

Back in So. Cal

 

Working through physical therapy (usually not smiling)

 

Riding the Ferris wheel at SM Pier under a full moon

 

With sister Louise, youngest brother Clement and his wife

 

Nisei Week, August 2016 - last photo of the entire clan

 

There's far more to be said than can be written here, but suffice to say that Sam Kwong had a good ending to his life.

Nisei Week - Dad got his camera out again!

 

Since Sam was a professional photographer for much of his life (and a damn good one at that), here's a few photos --hopefully worth a thousand words...

Dan built this table just for Sam's solitaire-playing pleasure

 

Sam's 86th birthday dinner with Gary, Maria and Poppy

 

Father and son became closer than ever

 

The last photo found in Sam's camera - Dan running to first base

 

Bye, Dad

 



CONFESSIONS OF A RADICAL

CHICANO DOO-WOP SINGER

by RUBEN FUNKAHUATL GUEVARA

Directed by Dan Kwong

Casa 0101 Theater, Los Angeles

July 15-31, 2016: During a rather crazed 6-week period I was simultaneously directing my friend Ruben's show while dealing with my father’s health challenges, including overnight stays in the hospital and functioning on 3-4 hours of sleep per day for a week or so. Nonetheless, everything turned out for the best - both Dad's health AND the show! "Confessions of a Radical Chicano Doo-Wop Singer" ran for three weekends at the lovely Casa 0101 Theater in Boyle Heights, to enthusiastic and appreciative audiences.

I was so proud of Ruben for pushing himself beyond anything he had ever done as a performer, and proud of myself for creating a well-crafted, densely-packed and highly-entertaining autobiographical piece. I did a ton of work on this: director, dramaturge, multimedia producer, set design, choreography, and even wrote some of the publicity. It was a pleasure to work with a longtime colleague whom I've known since my very beginnings as a performance artist! Ruben and I will continue to refine the piece, and hopefully take it on the road sometime down the line. The following is a blurb I wrote for publicity purposes:

Ruben “Funkahuatl” Guevara is a rather low-key, unassuming, modest guy who doesn’t toot his horn a whole lot. But in fact, this man is part of pop culture music history. “Confessions of a Radical Chicano Doo-Wop Singer” is his remarkable saga of a five-decade career in the music world: his exhilirating rises to success, his staggering crashes, and his ultimate evolution into a respected Chicano community activist, “culture sculptor”, and man of integrity.

After Ruben asked me to direct “Confessions”, I began to discover things about his life that blew my mind -- “You did WHAT? With WHOM?” Tina Turner, Bo Diddley, Frank Zappa, Cheech & Chong, Los Lobos, John Densmore (The Doors), and more, all show up in Ruben’s stories -- guaranteed to alternately make you chuckle with delight and gasp in horror.

There’s an old saying: “The higher you fly, the farther you fall”. And what is perhaps most meaningful in “Confessions”is the question of how one deals with that duality -- success and failure; triumph and defeat; enthusiasm and disappointment; hope and despair -- over the course of a long lifetime. Septuagenarian Guevara sheds some precious light on this topic.

In “Confessions of a Radical Chicano Doo-Wop Singer”, Ruben reads/performs some of his head-shaking stories (based on his memoir), plus you’ll experience some trademark Kwong-touches along the way: tons of multimedia including archival footage and kooky animation, some decidedly goofy moments in between the pathos, and of course, MUSIC.


CHINA AND JAPAN 2015

In a wonderful end to 2015, Dan spent two weeks in China followed by a visit to Sado Island, Japan.

Hunan Province, CHINA

Soul brothers reunited: Peng and Dan in Jishou city

December 1-14, 2015: Dan visited Hunan Province as a guest of Peng Jingquan, his dear friend and longtime collaborator. The purpose of the trip was to learn about the Miao people and their culture, with the intention of Dan and Peng bringing a small group of Miao artists and cultural experts to visit the U.S.

Harvesting oranges with residents of Dan Qing village

Dan Qing village

Located in south central China, Hunan Province is known for chili peppers and spicy food, the birthplace of Mao Zedong, some spectacular landscape, and its ethnic minority populations. It’s also Peng’s home province, and he himself is half-Miao.

Zhangjiajie Natl Park, inspiration for the film "Avatar"

“Miao” is not only a specific tribe of people, it is also the umbrella term for several ethnic minorities within China which include the Hmong, Yao, Dong and Tujia peoples – all of whom have populations in the western part of Hunan known as “Xiangxi”.

Uh, not your everyday outfits...

The Miao people have an incredibly rich culture, perhaps best known for their exquisite metal jewelry and headdresses as well as intricate embroidery -- not only beautiful to look at but also used as a form of historical documentation.

Xiang Xiu Ping, Miao embroidery expert

Detail: super-fine needlework. Can you say myopia?

Detail: 100 meter long embroidery of Miao history

 

But the Miao are said to be in danger of cultural extinction – they have no written language of their own; economic survival is forcing the younger generation to leave their home villages to work in cities; and the older generation of traditional masters is dying off. Who will keep these amazing traditions alive?

Traditional "Ba-De" - shaman - plays bamboo instrument

This has become Peng’s passion-project, and to that end he has produced two documentaries and short films about the Miao, attempting to shine a light on his people. Dan’s part in this is to help bring a group of Miao master artists to America, gaining more exposure for their remarkable culture and challenging situation.

Still from Peng's beautiful short film, "Silent Village"

Peng arranged a jam-packed itinerary for Dan, visiting places of extraordinary natural beauty, urban theaters, historical towns, cultural museums, and small villages in the remote countryside. Dan met amazing artists, craftspeople, cultural experts, local politicians, even a major pop star, and was welcomed into their homes and treated as an honored guest.

Cui Cui, a wonderful Miao singer and a delightful spirit

In Lao Zhai village he was asked to give an impromptu outdoor performance and did a tiny excerpt from “Monkhood in 3 Easy Lessons” -- and sang a couple Beatle songs.

Dan does his Beatles medley for the folks

Since his return Dan has been exploring possible venues and institutions who might be interested in hosting a 2-hour presentation on Miao culture. Let him know if you have any ideas!

Coming to a cultural institution near you!

Dan is deeply grateful to Peng for his generosity. Other than the international flight, Peng took care of all Dan’s expenses in China! It was the trip of a lifetime. Keep an eye out for this future project -- possibly Fall/Winter 2016!

 

SADO ISLAND, JAPAN

Dramatic coastline of Sado Island

December 14-23, 2015: From China, Dan flew to Tokyo, took the shinkansen (bullet train) north and rode the ferry to Sado Island. There he was hosted by Yoko Fujimoto, a founding member of the world famous Kodo Taiko Performing Arts Ensemble.

Yoko Fujimoto

Located off the west coast of Honshu (Japan’s largest island), Sado Island has a fascinating history which includes being a site of exile for social dissidents (including those troublesome artists!), political enemies of the government, and controversial religious figures, since the 8th century.

.

Traditional trading ship, handbuilt from wood

Yoko was a wonderful host, sharing the remarkable beauty and history of Sado in many ways. She arranged a private performance for Dan of Japanese bunya ningyo-style puppetry;

Master Puppeteer explains skeletal structure of a puppet

All handmade, of course

Another puppet master displays a different character

Right of Dan is Yoko's husband, also an original Kodo member

-- with other visits to: a sanctuary preserve for the rare Japanese crested ibis --

Toki, symbol of Sado Island

-- a former goldmine transformed into a spooky museum with creepy mannequins --

Very cool and creepy historic goldmine

-- the historical museum of Sado Island which features some exquisite mechanical animated displays --

 

Amazing miniature mechanized noodle shop scene

-- and a tour of the Kodo Taiko Ensemble compound, plus private viewing of a rehearsal!

Kodo, the most famous taiko group in the world

Drums, anyone?

Main Hall

A massive - and gorgeous - tree trunk drum

Dorm, offices, dining hall for the company

Top of this huge drum almost 9' high

Thank you, Yoko!

Hopefully in the future, Dan will work in a dramaturgical/directorial role with Yoko, Nobuko, and P.J. Hirabayashi on a new live performance the three women plan to tour in the U.S. and Japan.



Irvine, CA.

University of California at Irvine

November 4, 2015: Dan made a visit south of the Orange Curtain to UC Irvine for Prof. Keith Danner’s class on “Im/Migration Narratives”. He performed “Song for Grandpa”, the climactic monologue from “Monkhood in 3 Easy Lessons” (1993) and engaged in a talkback session with students. It was Dan’s first time in many years to perform what was once his “signature” monologue – probably performed more than any other work of his. Fascinating (a la Spock) -- like putting on a familiar old suit of clothes you haven’t worn in 15 years. Thanks to Prof. Danner for the invite!



Center for the Preservation of Democracy,

Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles

SERVE THE PEOPLE INSTITUTE

Fundraiser and Tribute to Nobuko Miyamoto

November 1, 2015: Dan directed and performed in a fundraiser for Serve the People Institute. SPI is a community-driven, leadership development organization that aims to share the history and values of the Asian American Movement in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, with a geographic focus on Los Angeles. SPI aims to empower Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities toward greater economic and political self-sufficiency by developing and cultivating our next generation of activists and community leaders.

Launched two years ago, SPI is the brainchild of longtime political activist-organizer Warren Furutani, who wanted to insure that this community history was not lost and that future generations would have a resource for learning the history of Asian American involvement in the fight for social justice, especially alongside other communities and movements.

Scary baby!

One of their first projects is an online archive dedicated to preserving the history of Asian American activism through photographs, videos, documents, artifacts and first-person stories.

Honoree Nobuko Miyamoto

As well as being a fundraiser for SPI, the evening was a wonderful opportunity to honor a groundbreaking artist who continues to practice her art in service of social progress – Dan’s longtime friend and colleague, Nobuko Miyamoto.

Sean Miura and traci kato-kiriyama

Dan performed alongside traci kato-kiriyama (with Sean Miura), Jumakae, and Jason Chu -- powerful young talents whose voices add to the ever-growing wealth of Asian American artists who write, produce and perform their own work.

Spoken word artist and all-around talent, Jumakae

Dan performed a short, abstract non-verbal piece (originally inspired by his SAIC art school classmate Harvey Weiss), plus a modified excerpt from WHAT? NO PING-PONG BALLS? featuring the singing baby puppet.

Hip-hop artist Jason Chu

As part of honoring Nobuko, Dan also prepared a funny slide show retrospective of her career: from childhood ballerina in Boyle Heights to teenage dancer on Broadway (Flower Drum Song)and in Hollywood movies (West Side Story, The King and I); from being part of the first touring Asian American folksinger group and recording the first album of “Asian American music” to eventually creating her performing arts organization Great Leap (which now makes up a considerable part of Dan’s professional work).

Nobuko as a Shark-Girl in West Side Story!

Dan gently roasts Nob...

It was an inspiring night that brought people together across generations -- celebrating the past, present and future of the Asian American community.

Check out SPI’s page on Facebook for more information on what they are doing and how you can get involved!

https://www.facebook.com/servethepeopleinstitute/timeline



Japanese American Cultural & Community Center

Los Angeles

FANDANGOBON 2015

October 25, 2015: Dan’s third turn as Director of FandangObon featured new additions to artistic founders Nobuko, Quetzal, Martha and Company: Francis Awe & Nigerian Talking Drum, and Le Ballet Dembaya. These two Nigerian drumming/dancing companies represent both ends of the spectrum in terms of longevity and freshness. Francis and his wife Omowale are practically an institution in L.A., having been performing and teaching for decades. Le Ballet Dembaya is a spirited group of African American young adults, some of whom were once students of Omowale. Together they brought fantastic energy, consciousness and joy to the event.

Jahanna Blunt and Le Ballet Dembaya

FandangObon is growing in size every year, the circle grows more diverse every year, and it’s becoming an event that people look forward to every year. Combining the traditions of Japanese obon, Mexican son jarocho music of Vera Cruz, and now Nigerian drumming and dancing, FandangObon is a joyous gathering of people across cultures.

Martha Gonzalez (far right) and Nobuko, steppin'...

And now it also has a strong environmental component, the Eco-Fest, which encourages a more sustainable lifestyle and highlights culture-specific methods for doing this.

Sustainable Little Tokyo makes its presence known!

Awesome MCs: traci kato-kiriyama & Joanna Mixpe Ley!

Nobuko and The Generations belt it out!

Master Nigerian drummer Francis Awe

Quetzal, Sean Miura & drummers of Le Ballet Dembaya

Ruben Guevara, Funk Poet Laureate of Boyle Heights

Maceo Hernandez (far right) & East L.A. Taiko



Santa Monica, CA

SOMAfest at HIGHWAYS PERFORMANCE SPACE

BARONG with Georgianne Cowan & Company

Dan anointeth Georgianne with holy water...

Flashback to 1987, a couple years before Dan began performing professionally when he was in an outdoor site-specific piece by Georgianne Cowan. Also featuring the lovely Umeko Walker, the piece was part of a bigger event observing the so-called "Harmonic Convergence" -- a rare astronomical event in 1987 in which the Sun, Moon and several major planets were aligned and in conjunction with cosmologically significant dates in the Aztec and Mayan calendar. Or something like that…

Dan & Umeko, a scary Power Couple...

Flash forward to September 25, 2015 -- 28 years later, Dan is reunited with Georgianne and Umeko in "Barong", Cowan's theatrical-dance interpretation of Balinese perspectives on the relationship between "dark" and "light" forces in the universe. Or something like that… Also in the cast was Craig Ng, who was in one of Dan’s Asian Men’s performance workshops back in 2003. “Barong” was performed at Highways as part of the annual SOMAfest event of workshops and performances based in meditative practice and the performing arts. It was a sweet reunion, especially with Umeko -- our mothers were pals from before WWII, and our older sisters were best friends from childhood!



Oakland, CA.

Birth Announcement!

MEADOW MEARA RAIN GOOD

August 17, 2015: A healthy baby girl came into the world this day courtesy Amy and Max Good (Dan's god-son)! Indulge a proud god-grandfather with a few photos, won't you?

Aunt Otome: "She's so cute, she looks like a Gerber baby!"

Can you tell Dan likes being with her?

And boom, just like that -- 8 months gone by!



Los Angeles

In Memoriam:

LYNN MANNING 

April 30, 1955 - August 3, 2015

August 3, 2015: Our dear friend Lynn passed away suddenly from complications of liver cancer. He performed with Great Leap for many years, touring the country with our Slice of Rice, Frijoles and Greens show, and performing many times in our annual UCLA gig for their Med School students. In fact, Lynn died the day before he had been scheduled to perform with us at UCLA this year. His one-man show about dealing with the loss of his sight was a powerful source of inspiration for us all. Though blind, he had vision far beyond that of most sighted people. His light burned strong and bright, and he touched many of us with his gentle strength, low-key humor, and fierce determination to overcome all obstacles. He was a brilliant talent and an extraordinary soul who left us far too soon. We loved and cherished who he was, and will miss him terribly. Google his name and learn more about a remarkable man!



Los Angeles

"BE LIKE WATER" SCREENPLAY READING

August 2, 2015: Dan and Director Chris Tashima arranged a reading of the latest draft of Dan's adaptation of his stageplay "Be Like Water" (produced 2008, East West Players). It was very helpful for Dan to hear his words outloud, and he was honored by the talented group of actors assembled by Chris. As with everything he does, the event was superbly run. Soon after, Dan finished the 5th draft and is hammering away yet again on #6.



Los Angeles

L.A. TIMES INTERVIEW

June 16, 2015: Maria, Sam & Dan were interviewed by L.A. Times reporter Ann Simmons for their new online feature, "LOOK BACK L.A.", described as "a portal to photos, videos and stories of ordinary Angelenos who make up the rich ethnic patchwork of our city".

Several video clips from the interview are on the site, along with some old Kwong/Nagano family photos. The reporter was particularly intrigued by Dad’s annual tradition of shooting unique, off-beat Xmas photos of us kids, often in humorous situations. From the early 1960s when he was one of the first Chinese American commercial photographers in the United States, Dad was ahead of his time.

We did our best to represent our missing family crew – Didi, Poppy, and of course, Momo. Interview was shot at JANM (thanks to Maria for arranging it), with a follow-up at Mom's house in Silverlake. Below is the link. Scroll down on their site; we are included inseveral clips. Check it out!

http://www.latimes.com/local/la-vd-look-back-la-20151125-htmlstory.html



Los Angeles

SAYONARA

to Japanese American Historical Society of Southern California

March 1, 2015: After 37 years of providing historical/cultural programs and projects in the Southern California area, the Japanese American Historical Society of Southern California (JAHSSC) was dissolved in Spring of 2015. Dan was a featured performer at their farewell event, along with singer/songwriter Nobuko Miyamoto (who also played the baby’s nurse) and Mary Nomura, the “Songbird of Manzanar”.

It was a celebratory and poignant event, drawing a who’s-who crowd from the local JA community. Dan performed a modified excerpt from WHAT? NO PING-PONG BALLS?, featuring the baby puppet singing a re-written version of Bohemian Rhapsody…

Back in 2004 JAHSSC honored Dan with one of their annual awards for “Outstanding Contributions to Japanese American History and Culture”, and he was delighted to be part of this special day.

JAHSSC was founded by educators, including George and Iku Kiriyama, Don Nakanishi, Lloyd Inui, Rei Kasama, Kiyo Fukumoto, and Evelynne Matsumoto, who saw the need to educate classroom teachers about the Japanese American experience. JAHSSC was the ONLY organization existing at the time to address this need. Since then, a number of organizations have arisen to fill the need including the Japanese American National Museum and the Go For Broke National Education Center. With much gratitude for all they have done for the community, goodbye to the JAHSSC!



Nagoya/Kobe/Kyoto/Tokyo

2014 JAPAN LECTURE TOUR

Nov. 17-24, 2014: From Hong Kong, Dan traveled to Japan for a jam-packed week. He gave one lecture about his performance work at Aichi Prefectural University in Nagoya and three at Kobe University. Both were return visits, thanks to Prof. Hideyuki Yamamoto and Prof. Mizuho Murayama!

Busting "hegemonic masculinity" at Kobe U.

Nagoya & Kobe were followed by a brief rendezvous in Kyoto with Great Leap colleague Nobuko Miyamoto and her siblings, and many great people, fun karaoke, shopping, eating! Stayed in an exquisite Japanese inn...

The trip culminated in Tokyo with a small workshop on Men's Liberation led by Dan. Exhausting trip, but so fun and fulfilling!



Hong Kong

THE HOUSE ON ROBINSON ROAD

Nov. 11-17, 2014: As recipient of a City of Santa Monica Artist Fellowship, Dan traveled to Hong Kong for preliminary work on his most ambitious project yet: a documentary/art video about the HK home of Dan's great-grandfather, Lee Sing Kwei. Here, Lee lived with his wife, 6 concubines, 21 children and a scattering of grandchildren - over 30 people under one roof! With some rooms perfectly preserved from the 1930s, the house is a veritable museum of owning-class Chinese society in colonial Hong Kong.

While in HK, Dan came across a hi-rez photo of The Old Man (as he was referred to) and his clan. Dan's father stands middle row far right, as a 10-year old.

 

The piece will also explore the evolving relationship between Dan and his father, who spent part of his childhood in this house.

The final form of the project will be a feature-length video; a hybrid creation that resonates with the multi-layered aesthetic approach found in Dan's live performances.

Great-grandfather's grave.

Along with revealing a fascinating portrait of owning-class Chinese society in colonial-era Hong Kong, The House On Robinson Road will be a journey into family, reconciliation, and the desire for human connection. Stay tuned!



Philadelphia, PA.

WHAT? NO PING-PONG BALLS?

Oct. 10-12, 2014: Selected for the National Asian American Theater Festival in Philadelphia, Dan and Kenny Endo successfully presented 3 performances at InterAct Theater. The work was very well-received, and Dan is in the process of seeking out future engagements for the show.

Kudos to our outstanding tech guy, Lucas Nguyen (on scaffold). He's as good as they come! Kenny sits far right, waiting oh-so-patiently...

And THANKS to Dan's many donors who helped fund this trip, through our Hatchfund project. You made it happen! Very Special Thanks to dear friend Sharon Nazarian, who backed us big-time!



Santa Monica, CA.

HIGHWAYS SILVER JUBILEE!

Highways Performance Space

May 3, 2014: Celebrating 25 years of presenting performance art, dance & music, Highways hosted a night of 1980s style performance including veteranos like my personal fave John Fleck, choreographer Rudy Perez, the wryly understated John White (whom I worked for in the early 80s), chanteuse Weba Garretson, the off-beat musical duo Fat & Fucked-Up, and DK.

Dan performed a modified excerpt from WHAT? NO PING-PONG BALLS? featuring his baby puppet. Assisted by Caitlin Tortorici, Dan closed the show with a bang, combining monologue, slides, video, and the ubiquitous baby-version of himself. A great time had by all...



Santa Monica, CA.  PREMIERE

WHAT? NO PING PONG BALLS?

Music by KENNY ENDO

Highways Performance Space

June 14-16, 2013: Dan performed his new work to full houses in a wildly successful premiere! Collaborating with master taiko drummer KENNY ENDO was a blast, bringing even more life to the show.

The piece honors the life story of MOMO NAGANO (Dan's late mother), esp. focusing on her journey as a single parent and artist in the 60s and 70s. It also includes clips of interviews with other Japanese American single moms, weaving their experiences into the piece and shedding light on the invisible story of Asian American single motherhood.

So many people to thank: PAGE LEONG provided brilliant directorial, dramaturgical and choreographic insights, and played a crucial role in shaping the entire piece. JOSE LOPEZ's lighting design was gorgeous, CHRIS TASHIMA's fake surfboard prop was one of Dan's favorite parts of the show, LAUREN TOM made a hilarious cameo on video as the World's Youngest Sociologist, ALE McGREW was Dan's outstanding intern, handling many facets of the production at the same time, CURTIS NOUCHI fabricated a lovely netting structure that was a key set piece, MICHIKO YAO helped out with some excellent After Effects video processing, and many other people contributed in many ways to make this a success.

Also featured was an exhibition of weavings by Momo Nagano in the Highways Lobby Gallery. Thanks to the Japanese American Natl Museum for loaning Momo's large-scale piece honoring all the JA families in her neighborhood that were interned during WWII.

'



Redlands, CA.  WORK-IN-PROGRESS SHOWING

WHAT? NO PING PONG BALLS?

University of Redlands, Wallichs Theater

March 23, 2013: Dan performed a work-in-progress version of the new piece (previously titled Center of the Universe, see below) about his late mother and her experiences as an Asian American single mother from the early 1960s thru 70s. Unfortunately Dan was sick as a dog, but somehow made it through thanks to great support from Univ. of Redlands Tech Director, Trevor Norton and Prof. Chris Beach. Also Prof. Keith Osajima gave a very wonderful introduction of Dan before the show!


Wellesley, MA.  WORK-IN-PROGRESS SHOWING

CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE

Wellesley College

October 31, 2012: Just a few days after Hurricane Sandy, Dan gave the first work-in-progress showing of this new piece about the life story of his late mother. It was very well-received! (title subsequently changed to WHAT? NO PING-PING BALLS?)


Amherst, MA.

IT'S GREAT 2B AMERICAN

University of Massachusetts at Amherst

October 24, 2012: Dan returned to UMass (for the 3rd time!) to perform as part of the Asian Arts and Culture Program under the leadership of Ranjanaa Devi.

Dan performed a newly re-worked version of the show which he is very excited about. He also did several classroom visits at UMass and Smith College, plus a workshop at Williston Northampton High. It was a great (and busy) trip!


Santa Monica, CA

I AM YOU

by Sheetal Gandhi

Annenberg Beach House

September 29/30, 2012: Dan was an ensemble performer in Sheetal Gandhi's newest work, a site-specific dance-theater piece inspired by the poetry of Rumi. The amazingly talented and brilliant Gandhi collaborated with exquisite Canadian dancer Meena Murugesan in a poignant and humorous work that incorporated kathak, bharata natyam & modern dance, live & recorded text, music, live singing, popular love songs of the 1930s, and commentary on motivational talk shows.

The piece was performed outdoors all around the Annenberg Beach House and on the boardwalk.


Los Angeles, CA

CYCLES OF CHANGE II

Live Performance

MacArthur Park

October 7, 2012: The live performance returned as part of CicLAvia! Dan directed and performed in this funny and family-friendly performance about bicycling in the big city featuring Claire Day, Carla Vega, Charlie McClung, Gabriel Tenorios and Dan, plus live musicians George Abe and Byron Yamada playing taiko, flute and percussion.

Special Guests QUETZAL performed a terrific set in the middle of the day and blew the crowd away!


ON THE INTERNET:

CYCLES OF CHANGE - Great Leap's new Eco-Vid!

Director/Editor: Dan Kwong   Executive Producer: Nobuko Miyamoto

Sept. 6, 2012: CYCLES OF CHANGE features a hot new song by Nobuko Miyamoto and stellar L.A. rock band QUETZAL, encouraging you to hop on a bike for a change and leave the car at home. This funny video with a serious message stars Nobuko as our heroine on two wheels, and Martha Gonzalez (Quetzal lead singer) as the busy urban professional mom who learns the virtues and joys of bicycle riding.

Please check it out and share it with your friends! Our last Eco-Vid (MOTTAINAI) has been viewed in over 80 countries, with over 30,000 hits. We want to top that number with CYCLES!

Copyright September 2012 Great Leap Inc.


VIDEO PRODUCTION RECAP:

CYCLES OF CHANGE

A music video promoting bicycling as an alternative form of urban transportation

Principle shooting completed on June 16!

Dan talks it over with Cameraman Jon Edwards while Martha waits for her test drive

Dan directed three successful days of shooting on location around L.A. and on a soundstage with a 30' green screen in Santa Monica. This is Great Leap's (and Dan's) most ambitious production yet!

Our stars, Nobuko Miyamoto plus Martha Gonzalez of the band Quetzal were fiercely committed, hysterically funny, utterly delightful and very courageous (especially handling some of the more daring bicycle action-shots). They were beautifully costumed by Yuki Ishii in her trademark dyed-fabric designs.

Quetzal Flores (Martha's husband and namesake of the band) and their adorable son Sandino also made cameo appearances.

1st Asst. Director Lisa Konczal was a total delight to work with. She's a very talented director/editor/producer herself, and a terrific person in every way. Had the great pleasure of working again with Tana Barajas (after our adventures on the road last fall with "Water is Rising") as our Production Manager. We had outstanding technical support from our grips Andy Aguilar, Sean Sherrod, Chris Lakin, Beau Johnson and Taylor, plus we had the added bonus of Academy Award-winning Director Chris Tashima who jumped in to lend his expertise with rigging & preparing the bikes for our green screen shoot. And Nobuko's brother Bob Miyamoto was again a huge help providing tools, materials, information, and connections.

I also want to thank our MANY funders, through our Indiegogo campaign and other fundraising efforts, without whom we could not have done it. I am confident you will be pleased and proud to have supported this project! THANK YOU ALL!


ONCE WE WANTED

New trailer with short clips from the show. Dan & Iu-Hui's interdisciplinary multimedia piece about relationships, connection & alienation in our Facebook/Twitter/Skype society. (see below for more info about the work-in-progress showing last year)


Venice, CA.

POETRY IN MOTION: "SONS"

Beyond Baroque Literary/Arts Center

June 22, 2012: Dan joined a wonderful line-up of poets and musicians to share brief musings on this filial topic. Dan read a new prose list-poem in which he told his life story (as a son) in about 5 minutes.

Founded and curated by the amazing Eve Brandstein, "Poetry in Motion" is a long-standing event happening periodically at Beyond Baroque, the venerable Venice Beach literary center which first brought together Exene Cervenka and John Doe, ultimately resulting in formation of the seminal L.A. punk band "X" (one of Dan's favorite bands...)


Los Angeles, CA.

REAL WHEELS

May 15, 2012: Dan had the pleasure of performing a new short piece about his first bicycle, at the reknowned Tuesday Night Cafe event. Founded by artist Traci Kato-Kiriyama, TNC is held in the Courtyard in front of East West Players the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays of the month. Inspired by Dan's work on the Cycles of Change bike performance, this new piece has nice potential for development into something more substantial.


Los Angeles, CA

CYCLES OF CHANGE

April 15, 2012: Great Leap presented a very successful afternoon of performances in MacArthur Park as part of CicLAvia, the L.A. city-wide bicycle celebration! The 8-person cast included ANDRAE HARRISON, YOLANDA HESTER, CLAIRE DAY, GABRIEL TENORIO, CHARLIE McCLUNG, ALISON MINAMI, and CHEVALA ZEPEDA, plus Dan on his trusty old bike. We did three 30" shows throughout the day, on a gorgeous afternoon with a constant river of bicycle riders on the streets as a backdrop to our shows.

Each performance began with thunderous taiko drumming by DANNY YAMAMOTO (of the band Hiroshima) and beautiful flute playing by GEORGE ABE, which worked so well to attract audiences. People would ride up, dump their bikes on the grass, and sit down to watch the show.

We had some funny things happen, such as confused passers-by wandering into the middle of our scenes, one very drunk guy who stumbled out "onstage" and stood with his back to the audience for several minutes before Nobuko gently led him away, and several bike riders who would accidentally cruise right through the middle of our performance! We just waved as they went by...

Feedback from the performance was terrific. People said it really made them proud and pleased to be an urban bike rider. Others were touched by memories about the very first time they rode a bike.

Personally I was amazed at what a powerful experience that was for so many of us - the first time we rode a bike! The feeling of confidence, independence, empowerment and 'mastery of the universe' that so many people associate with this simple childhood experience -- truly profound...

Some pics of the performances were shot by two great photographers, Jorge Vismara and Emily Mount. You can see their work here:

http://jorgevismara.net/home/cycles-of-change/

and

http://photobucket.com/cyclesofchange

Look for us to repeat this performance on October 14 in the next CicLAvia event --this time in conjunction with the Deputy Mayor of the Environment's Office, and with an even bigger live music component!


Redlands, CA

"PERFORMING IDENTITIES"

University of Redlands, Glenn Wallichs Theater

January 28, 2012 - After many years, Dan returned to UOR to perform excerpts from IT'S GREAT 2B AMERICAN plus STATION WAGONS OF LIFE, on a mixed bill with Leo Garcia and Doug Hammett as part of the UOR "Performing identities" solo performance series. It was a blast! The audience was laughing & crying and Dan had a great time as well. Also included was a post-show Q&A and a lovely reception at Prof. Chris Beach's beautiful home. U of Redlands rocks!


ON THE INTERNET:

"MOTTAINAI"

Dan's funny new environmental music video, created this spring with Nobuko Miyamoto and Great Leap, is now online. With over 30,000 views, it's been seen in every state of the U.S. and increasingly around the world!

Please check it out, share it with your friends, and pass the word about living a less wasteful lifestyle!


Los Angeles, CA.

GRANDMAS, GRAPES, AND GONGGI-NORI

Report from Korea

 

Dan's video presentation about his experiences in South Korea, Feb. 2011, teaching a storytelling workshop for elderly rural women on an island in South Korea.

This project was made possible by a Culture Exchange International grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.


Santa Barbara, CA.

TRUE TALES AND CLEVER LIES

UC Santa Barbara, Multicultural Center Theater

May 26, 2011 - Dan returned to the MCC after many years to perform excerpts from IT'S GREAT 2B AMERICAN and ONCE WE WANTED. Thanks to Kip Fulbeck for wonderful local hospitality and the great meeting with his students!


Los Angeles, CA.

MOTTAINAI  & ORDER TO GO

National Center for the Preservation of Democracy

June 5, 2011 (World Environment Day) - The premiere screening of Dan's new environmental music video, MOTTAINAI, created in collaboration with Nobuko Miyamoto and Great Leap's community of artists! Also on the day were live two performances of "ORDER TO GO" (see report from Sept. 11, 2010), workshops on greener living, and lots of fun! www.greatleap.org.


Santa Monica, CA.

ONCE WE WANTED

Highways Performance Space

May 13-14, 2011 - Dan and Iu-Hui Chua gave a work-in-progress presentation of their interdisciplinary collaboration: a funny, philosophical, playfully sexy, deeply intimate and personal exploration of what it means to truly be connected to each other. Full of surprises, Kwong and Chua incorporate dance, theater, poetry, comedy, puppetry, martial arts and song in a dense and fast-paced collage of vignettes. This was Kwong's first major production since the passing of his mother in 2010, and the piece was partly a tribute to her.

Dan and Iu-Hui are eager to continue developing this production!


Los Angeles, CA.

MOTTAINAI

Music Video Production

April 16, 17, 2011 - Over two intense long days of work, Dan directed the shooting of the newest environmental music video for Great Leap!  Glad to say it went very well and we got some great footage.

Featuring another song by longtime colleague Nobuko Miyamoto, MOTTAINAI is a call to remember the wisdom of our ancestors when it comes to cherishing the earth's resources and avoiding  thoughtless waste.

We had a terrific hard-working crew - Jon Edwards our Cameraman, Bob Miyamoto our Key Grip (and Nobuko's brother), Anna Woo our 1st Asst. Director, and many more. Truly a community project, we couldn't have done it without the support of many people, including our many Kickstarter funders. Thanks to all!


Laramie, WYOMING

A Slice of Rice, Frijoles & Greens

University of Wyoming at Laramie

April 7, 2011 - Dan was on the road with his Great Leap colleagues Chic Streetman and D'Lo, to perform at the University of Wyoming as part of the annual Shepard Symposium on Social Justice. They treated us wonderfully, and we did okay performing at 1.5 miles above sea level! (huff, puff)


Norton, MASSACHUSETTS

TRUE TALES from the Son of a Wheaton Grad

Wheaton College, Kresge Experimental Theatre

March 31, 2011 - The Universe smiled with a bit of ironic scheduling as Dan performed at his mother's alma mater on the exact one year anniversary of her passing. In honor of her, he performed various pieces which featured her presence. Included in the show was a screening of the documentary Dan produced about Momo's 60th college reunion, when she received the Wheaton Alumni Achievement Award in 2007, a high point in her life. He also read a narrative poem about Momo and the indelible impression she made on her male offspring.

Several of Momo's dear friends from the class of 1947 made it to the show (one driving 70 miles through a snowstorm!), and their presence made it that much more powerful. One of the most emotional performances of Dan's life, it wasn't just "a show" - it was a memorial tribute to his mother.

While at Wheaton, Dan was housed in a gorgeous 1960's guesthouse on campus designed by legendary architect/designer Walter Gropius (with whom Momo's older brother Daisuke studied after the war!).

Dan also conducted a mini-performance workshop with Wheaton students, and an off-shoot of this visit was the possibility of Wheaton College acquiring one of his mother's weavings for their collection.

All in all, an amazingly wonderful trip!


South Korea

FROM INNER WORLDS

Gyeonggi Creation Center, Seon-gam Island

February 3-28, 2011: Dan recently returned from another residency in Korea, returning to G.C.C. some 14 months after his participation in the pilot program there in Fall of 2009. What was intended as a storytelling workshop for rural elderly Korean women turned out to be a classic example of the "students" teaching the "teacher". It was deeply moving to be with these spirited, funny, warm and caring women. Ranging from mid-60s to mid-80s in age, they were a delightful bunch who welcomed Dan into their community with such graciousness and generosity. It was enlightening to see how different life is for elders in that rural setting. They spend virtually every day together hanging out in the senior center: eating meals, playing "Go-Stop" (a card game based on the Japanese game of Hanafuda), singing karaoke, and just being together. It's a striking contrast to the isolation most seniors have to deal with in urban America. Many of these women still work in the fields on their grape farms. They were so down-to-earth and real, it was love at first sight for Dan. They taught him more than he taught them!

The project was funded in part by a Culture Exchange International Grant from the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department.


CALIFORNIA

Calavereando V

Highways, Santa Monica

November 5-7, 2010: Dan performed as part of the ensemble in Paulina Sahagun's 5th annual event at Highways. Combining aspects of traditional Mexican Day of the Dead festivities with commedia dell'arte style, Calavereando honored the wisdom of ancestors while also making satirical socio-political commentary. Highlight for Dan was portraying a skeletal Barack Obama in a tag-team wrestling match with Glenn Beck, Christine O'Donnell, and Sarah Palin! Great fun!

Also part of the event was a community altar in the lobby gallery for those who have lost a loved one in the last year. There was a nice Momo-presence there...


Pasadena, CALIFORNIA

"Indelible Ink" Poetry & Performance Series

October 26, 2010: Dan performed a site-specific piece, in-the-round, at POP Champagne & Dessert Bar in Pasadena. The piece began with Dan entering wearing a cardboard head-dress which simulated a miniature theater stage (see video) as his recorded voiceover described some basic theatrical formats (proscenium stage, thrust stage, theater-in-the-round). After a brief live monologue in which Dan ranted about how much he hates theater-in-the-round due to its effects on the audience-performer connection, he segued into a story about his late mother and her extraordinary ability to connect with people. (This piece was the seedling for what would become "WHAT? NO PING-PONG BALLS?")

PART I

Other than that, Dan's highlight of the night was meeting the amazing singer/songwriter Corrinne May, originally from Singapore now based here in the States. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you check her out, she is brilliant!


Culver City, CALIFORNIA

Collaboratory VIII: "Order To Go"

PERFORMANCE (directed by D.K.)

September 11, 2010: A standing room-only crowd saw the culminating performance of round VIII of the Collaboratory mentorship program! The show was presented at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook in Culver City in an outdoor pavilion. Over a hundred folks braved chilly weather and dense fog to come see an outstanding performance by Janet Dandridge, June Kaewsith, Zumi Mizokami, Ayuko Sato, Shannon Shue!

For ten weeks this wonderful group of emerging artists was led by Dan and Young-Ae Park, learning how to work together to create collaborative performances, and using the theme of "the environmental impact of take-out food containers & utensils". The results were funny, poignant, rich and informative.

The evening was hosted by the funny and delightful Amy Hill and also featured live music by Nobuko Miyamoto and Friends, plus a live screening of our new music video "B.Y.O. CHOPSTIX" (see above).

One of our most successful Collab shows ever!


INTERNET

B.Y.O.CHOPSTIX

MUSIC VIDEO

May 2010: Dan directed and edited his first music video! Great Leap's Artistic Director Nobuko Miyamoto teamed up with rapper Luke "Aidger" Patterson to write and record a funny-yet-pointed song about the ecological ills of disposable chopsticks. Shot on location at Azuma Restaurant in Gardena and in studio, B.Y.O.C. features Nobuko as the Ghost of Dead Chopsticks, and Aidger as an eco-savvy rapping sushi chef. Also making cameos are Danny Yamamoto (drummer for Hiroshima), acclaimed solo perfomer Jude Narita, and several former participants from Great Leap's Collaboratory mentorship program.

Also, Great Leap is now selling portable chopsticks on their website:

chopstix.greatleap.org

Bring your own!


CHICAGO

Month At The Museum - NOT.

August 2010: Dan entered a contest to live for one month in the Chicago Museum of Science & Industry. Unfortunately he didn't even make it past the first cut (over 1,000 entries!), but here's the extended version of the video he submitted with his application:

You be the judge!


LOS ANGELES

UCLA Medical School

A SLICE OF RICE, FRIJOLES & GREENS

August 3, 2010: Our annual performance for first-year med students in Bruin-town! This year featured Dan, Paulina Sahagun, and Lynn Manning each performing 20 minutes of solo material.


LOS ANGELES

24th Annual ATHE Conference

PANEL DISCUSSION

Moving Through Masculinity: Re-thinking maleness through Theatre, Movement, and Dance

August 4, 2010: Dan was on a panel with some amazing artists discussing the exploration of masculinity in performance. Jeff McMahon convened, with Tim Miller, John Fleck, Dan Froot, and Doug Cooney! It was especially interesting to have both Gay and straight perspectives on this topic. Conference was held at the Hyatt Century Plaza Hotel, dubbed the "Western White House" during the Reagan years.

(ATHE = Association for Theater in Higher Education)


Philadelphia, PA

Artists Exchange Festival 2010

Asian Arts Initiative

March 27, 2010: Dan performed excerpts from IG2BA. Also on the bill: Philly-based artists CATZIE VILAYPHONH and ANULA SHETTY.

March 29-April 3, 2010: Dan also facilitated an intensive workshop on the topic of "HOME: Far and Near" with a terrific group of artists from across the country including Anula Shetty, Robert Karimi, Regie Cabico, Kristina Wong, Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai, Makoto Hirano and Catzie Vilayphonh. The week culminated in a showing of performances created by the group during the week.

The show was directed by Regie Cabico, who graciously stepped in for Dan when he had to return home mid-week when his mother passed away. Dan was actually able to participate in the show from Santa Monica via live video link, and read a short piece he had written in honor of his mother. Special thanks to Gary San Angel for making it technically possible.

Also, thanks to Gayle Isa (Exec. Director of AAI) for her kindness and flexibility during this tough situation.

Finally, thanks to all the participating artists whose compassion and loving support made it as bearable as possible.


Wellesley, MA

Wellesley College

February 11, 2010: Dan gave a very successful performance of the newest version of IT'S GREAT 2B AMERICAN, and also had a great time visiting Prof. Elena Creef's seminar class. Exciting to try out a new version of the show and get some useful feedback from students and faculty. Major thanks to Prof. Creef, Marissa, and Ken Loewit for making it happen!


Manhattan, KANSAS

Kansas State Univ.

February 3, 2010: Dan returned for his third visit to KSU (since 1997) and performed a medley of short pieces. He also got in a couple games of bowling in the Student Union.


Santa Monica, CA.

Miles Playhouse

December 5 & 6, 2009: Dan had the pleasure of performing with longtime friend and colleague Jude Narita (and poet Elizabeth Iannacci). Good to be reminded how brilliant Jude's work is!


SOUTH KOREA

Residency:

Gyeonggi Creation Center

Ansan, Gyeonggi Province

Oct. 29 - Nov. 24, 2009: Dan spent a month at this new international arts center on Seongam Island, a rural area 40 miles SW of Seoul. He was part of a group of 24 international artists conducting researching for future art projects focused on community issues.

While there, Dan also created a site-specific installation piece in the form of a small-scale baseball diamond, dedicated to the boys who died at this location during WWII. (check out Dan's Facebook page for many photos documenting the installation).


JAPAN

Lecture/Workshop Tour

AICHI PREFECTURAL UNIV., Nagoya

October 14, 2009: Dan facilitated an introductory workshop on autobiographical writing & performance.

October 15, 2009: Dan gave a video/lecture presentation for the British & American Studies Dept. With a fully professional translator, wow!

Residency sponsored by the Cultural Symbiosis Research Institute of Aichi Prefectural Univ. Coordinated by Prof. Mizuho Murayama.

**************

KYOTO SANGYO UNIVERSITY, Kyoto

October 16, 2009: Dan screened video & lectured on his work, with focus on Hybrid Identity and other pithy topics...

Coordinated by Prof. Kyoko N. Nozaki

**************

KOBE UNIVERSITY, Kobe

October 21, 2009: Workshop on "effective social/academic communications" for graduate students.

October 22, 2009: Autobiographical writing & performing workshop for undergrad students.

October 22, 2009: Dan screened video and lectured on IT'S GREAT 2B AMERICAN.

Coordinated by Prof. Hideyuki Yamamoto

**************

COMPARATIVE CULTURAL HISTORY OF MASCULINITY SYMPOSIUM, Osaka

October 24, 2009: Dan talked about his workshop approach & demonstrated some of his teaching methodology.

Dan was also on a panel, talking about Asian American masculinity and screening video clips of his work on the topic.

Sponsored by Japan Society for Promotion of Science, Gender Studies Project led by Prof. Miho Mitsunari, Setsunan University. Additional support from the Asian American Literature Association and the American Drama Association of Japan.

SPECIAL THANKS TO PROF. HIDEYUKI YAMAMOTO OF KOBE UNIVERSITY FOR MAKING THIS ENTIRE TOUR POSSIBLE!


PASADENA, CALIFORNIA

Touching All Bases: A Baseball Celebration

PASADENA CENTRAL LIBRARY

October 9, 2009: As part of ArtNight Pasadena, the Baseball Reliquary and Pasadena Public Library presented Touching All Bases: A Baseball Celebration. This multi-cultural, multi-generational evening incorporated visual art, music, performance, literature, and moving image media to provide new insights into America’s national pastime. On the 20th anniversary of his ground-breaking performance Secrets of the Samurai Centerfielder, Dan performed a monologue from the show, in addition to DODGERTOWN, a funny yet deeply-moving story about being a devoted follower of the home team, including Kwong's childhood technique for getting into Dodger games for free, his perspective on professional sports as a mind-numbing substance, and a stunning vision at Chavez Ravine.


OXFORD, OHIO

Miami University of Ohio

Baker University Center Theater

A SLICE OF RICE, FRIJOLES & GREENS

October 1, 2009: Dan performed an excerpt from IG2BA (Classroom Patriots) plus "Station Wagons of Life" as part of Great Leap's touring show. Dan performed with his longtime friends & colleagues, CHIC STREETMAN and PAULINA SAHAGUN.


WELLESLEY, MA

Wellesley College

Lecture

September 23, 2009: Dan talked about his work in Prof. Elena Creef's class on "Elvis Presley & 50s America".


PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND

Providence College

Slavin Student Ctr.

September 24, 2009: Dan performed various excerpts including "Birth Interview", Station Wagons of Life", plus selections from IG2BA.

September 25, 2009: Dan facilitated an introductory workshop on autobiographical writing for performance.

This residency sponsored by the Asian American Association, Board of Multicultural Student Affairs, and Students Organized Against Racism.


CALIFORNIA

The World's Youngest Poet

Sylvia White Gallery, Ventura

September 4, 2009: Dan reprised his intellectual baby, reciting selections from his latest book "Passions of a Breastfeeder". Complete with spouting political rhetoric (and baby poop) for a jam-packed house. Assisted by the most fetching wet-nurse ever, Allura Lee.


CALIFORNIA

Collaboratory VII: "The Blue Marble"

The Electric Lodge, Venice

Performed by Porschia Baker, Manny Baldenegro, Caroline Chang, Claire Day, Maya Gingery, Joyce Lee, Angela Salgado.

Directed by DK, assisted by Young-Ae Park.

August 30, 2009: Great Leap presented the latest works-in-progress created in their mentorship program for developing the next generation of artist-leaders in Los Angeles. Collab VII was focused on "caring for the environment".

Collaboratory participants spent six weeks experiencing field trips to environmental and arts organizations, meetings with mentors from the local arts community, master classes with guest teachers, and workshops with Dan and Young-Ae practicing collaboration techniques. The last two weeks were focused on the creation of works for this presentation at Electric Lodge, a solar-powered performing arts center.

This program was presented as Electric Lodge’s 2009 “Green Piece”, their annual project devoted to combining the arts and the environment.


CALIFORNIA

IT'S GREAT 2B AMERICAN

Torrance Cultural Arts Center

May 27, 2009: Dan performed his newest show for a packed house at the George Nakano Theater in Torrance.

Presented as part of the "Whose Story Now?" series curated by John Powers, presented in association with the Japanese American Citizens League, Japanese American National Museum, Japanese American Historical Society, JACCC, and more.


WISCONSIN

Lecture/Demo:

From Inner Worlds

University of Wisconsin, Madison

February 23, 2009: Dan gave a 90 minute talk with video screening, plus mini-performance excerpt about his latest work. Dan was hosted locally by the wonderful Li-Chiao-Ping and her husband Doug Rosenberg.


WISCONSIN

Performance:

IT'S GREAT 2B AMERICAN

Beloit College, Wilson Theater

February 26, 2009: Dan performed the full show for the good folks at Beloit, and taught an introductory workshop on autobiographical writing & performing for the Theater Department.


ILLINOIS

Lecture/Video presentation:

From Inner Worlds

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

February 26, 2009: Dan visited his beloved alma mater to screen video and talk about his latest work. Hosted by the Visiting Artists Performance Seminar series.


CALIFORNIA

IT'S GREAT 2B AMERICAN

Los Angeles Theater Center

November 14-16, 2008: This production featured new choreography, spiffed up video sequences, with a definite post-Obama-election kick! Part of LATC's "Face Of The World Festival".


CALIFORNIA

Be Like Water

East West Players Theater, Los Angeles

Directed by Chris Tashima

Sept 17-Oct 12, 2008: Dan's new play had its world premiere!

"Dan Kwong has penned a powerful, emotive, yet at times playful tale..." ~ Rafu Shimpo

"The beauty of "Be Like Water" is that it's about families like yours that struggle with identity, racism and insurmountable family expectations. It's about your heartbreak and strength." ~ Pacific Citizen

"Kwong can still deliver a roundhouse kick to the emotions." ~ L.A. Times

"...Hayashida and Sun Lee deftly handle playwright Kwong’s venerable skill in writing monologues that forward story line while allowing character depth." ~ View From A Loft

"Playwright Dan Kwong reveals an ability to adapt the huge issues (racism, mother-daughter stalemates, application of ancient wisdom) to living-room scale. He balances these disparate dimensions so that the expansiveness, danger and instruction of unseen story are just as active as the day-to-day trials of his familiar characters." ~ Theater Times

Synopsis:

Chicago, 1978. Disco rules. It's been 5 years since the tragic and untimely death of legendary martial artist Bruce Lee.

Tracy Fong is a 13-year old tomboy who has become a street-fighting, ass-kicking, gung-fu/Bruce Lee-fanatic. Her best friend at school happens to be named Bruce Lee - but he's a scrawny little nerd who loves disco dancing as much as Tracy despises it.

While Dad plays it cool, Mom pressures their daughter to be more of a "normal" girl.

As Tracy squares off against a nasty bully, her overbearing mother, and the dreaded annual disco dance, along comes the Ghost of Bruce Lee (in a glass of water!) to help Tracy on her journey.

Produced by EWP in association with Cedar Grove Onstage.


CALIFORNIA

IT'S GREAT 2B AMERICAN

HIGHWAYS, Santa Monica

Co-directed by Shishir Kurup

July 10-13, 2008: Dan premiered his first full-length solo performance in 9 years!


MINNESOTA

IT'S GREAT 2B AMERICAN

2nd Natl Asian American Theater Conference

Mixed Blood Theater, Minneapolis

June 5-7, 2008: Kwong performed a 10 minute excerpt from his new work as part of the Writer/ Performer Showcase, and also sat on a couple panels at the Conference: "Surviving as a Solo Artist" and "Shaping the Remix", the latter which included discussion of the Collaboratory mentorship program he has been directing for Great Leap since 2005.


JAPAN

Performance as Self-Expression/Realization

Kobe University, Japan

May 8, 2008: On Dan's second visit to Kobe U. he gave a lecture to faculty and students on his teaching methods and philosophy, and taught an introductory performance workshop.

Sponsored by Kobe U's Prof. Hideyuki Yamamoto and the Innovative Ethics Research Project, Faculty of Letters.


CALIFORNIA

From Inner Worlds

Cal State University Northridge

March 12, 2008: Dan performed excerpts from his book as part of the CSUN multicultural program.


CALIFORNIA

Collaboratory V: "Leaps of Faith"

National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, Los Angeles

March 8,9 2008: Led by Project Director Dan and Co-Facilitators Young-Ae Park and Nobuko Miyamoto, ten artists worked together for 7 weeks visiting various religious/spiritual centers in Los Angeles, meeting with local mentors/elders/ “wisdom-keepers”, experiencing master classes with guest teachers, and sharing their own personal stories of faith with each other.

They combined autobiographical material along with historical and contemporary sources in a highly collaborative approach, addressing questions such as: How can multi-dimensional religious identities live side by side? How do we navigate religious conflicts with intelligence and compassion? How can we create progressive and respectful visions for the future?

One of our most successful Collaboratory residencies ever!

NEW HAMPSHIRE, MASSACHUSETTS

Sleeping With Strangers

Bowker Auditorium, UMass, Amherst

February 8, 2008: Kwong & Peng presented their critically-acclaimed blend of performance art and Chinese opera to a full house. sponsored by the UMass Asian Studies Department. Two days later they taught workshops and performed for Derryfield School in nearby Manchester, New Hampshire.


JAPAN

Being Naked without Being Nude

Kobe University, Japan

December 13, 2007: Dan gave a video presentation and lecture about his autobiographical performance work for students at the Faculty of Letters. Students found the provocative title utterly confusing...


WASHINGTON

From Inner Worlds

Whitman College, Walla Walla WA

August 26-September 29, 2007: Dan guest-taught a very successful intensive course on Autobiographical Writing & Performing for the Theater Department of Whitman College. A remarkably talented group of students presented their solo pieces to full-houses as the opening production of the Whitman Theater Department's season.


CALIFORNIA

Collaboratory IV: "Third Stone"

FarmLab, Los Angeles

July-August, 2007: Dan and Young-Ae Park facilitated a free 8-week residency for emerging artists-of-color interested in collaborative performance and community leadership. The theme for this round was "caring for the environment".

The residency included field trips to various cultural centers in communities of color, guest teachers, and seminars with community elders, mentors, and wisdom-keepers.

Collaboratory IV culminated in a weekend of performances created by participants, directed by Kwong and Park, and hosted by FarmLab, a progressive organization in downtown L.A. which is dedicated to finding new ways to bring the urban environment more in harmony with nature.


PUBLICATION:

A History of Asian American Theatre

Recently published by Cambridge University Press, this is the definitive book on the subject, written by Esther Kim Lee, Asst. Professor of Theatre at the University of Illinois Champaign Urbana.

It acknowledges the significance of Kwong's body of work within a larger historical context of Asian American theater, spanning from 1965 to 2006.

Quote from the book:

"Dan Kwong empowers the Asian American identity and challenges American identity by telling stories of his life. And he has inspired others to use his workshop techniques to continue breaking the cycle of silence of Asian American men and women."

(ISBN-13-978-0-521-85051-3)

(The book also features a photo of Dan performing at Highways. Photo credit should be: Marcel Schaap.)


OKLAHOMA

Sleeping With Strangers

Tulsa Performing Arts Center

March 2007: Dan & Peng performed their critically-acclaimed collaboration to a packed audience for New Genre XIV, the innovative arts festival in Tulsa produced by Living Arts of Tulsa. They really know how to treat artists right over there...


CALIFORNIA

Sleeping With Strangers

HIGHWAYS, Santa Monica

February 2006: The successful world premiere of this multidisciplinary collaboration with traditional Chinese opera artist Peng Jingquan from Beijing, China. Receiving rave reviews, the show also toured to Duke University NC, New York University, and Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA.

An outrageous blend of Chinese opera (real and fake), Western drama, multimedia, puppetry, slapstick, poetry and storytelling, "Sleeping With Strangers" shares the highs and lows of international relations between China and the U.S., between fathers and sons, and between friends.


PEOPLES REPUBLIC OF CHINA

Sleeping With Strangers

Nordica TC/G, Kunming

September 2005: A work-in-progress version of Kwong & Peng's collaboration was presented in this very cool Swedish(!) experimental gallery/performance space in the city of Kunming. The eclectic audience - Chinese college students, European ex-patriots, and a handful of locals who wandered in not knowing what the heck was going to happen - all seemed to appreciate it...


CAMBODIA:

The Mekong Project - Phase II

Phnom Penh; Siem Reap; Battambang

November 2004: Returning to SE Asia, Dan again helped facilitate this international residency. The Mekong Project brought together 14 artists from China, Vietnam, Laos, Burma, Cambodia, Thailand and the U.S. Traveling together for 3 weeks in Cambodia, the project visited Siem Riep (site of famed Angkor Wat and many other spectacular temples) and Battambang before culminating in a weekend of performances in Phnom Penh. A very successful project!


CANADA

A.T.H.E. Conference

Toronto, Ontario

July 30-31, 2004: The annual conference for the Assoc. for Theatre in Higher Education included hundreds of academics and practitioners from across the continent and beyond. Dan performed, taught a workshop, was part of a panel discussion, participated in an interview and did a book-signing session - all in 2 days...


U.S.A.

From Inner Worlds to Outer Space

Book Release Show

HIGHWAYS, Santa Monica

July 22-24, 2004: To celebrate the publication of his new book, Dan performed a medley of pieces from his repertoire at Highways Performance Space. Featuring excerpts from the book, the performance marked Dan's reunion with his brilliant director, Christine Sang. All went exceptionally well with the exception of a costume malfunction that made Janet Jackson's look tame in comparison.


INDONESIA

The Art of Rice

Pengosekan, Ubud, Bali

August 2003: Dan returned to Bali, Indonesia to complete work on The Art of Rice. This international collaborative multidisciplinary multi-media performance featured eleven outstanding artists from China, India, Burma, Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan, Dominican Republic and the U.S. all working together to create a performance about that humble life-sustaining grain.

After a month in Bali developing the show, the group traveled to Hawaii and performed on three different islands. It made its L.A. premiere to full houses at the Japan America Theater, Pomona College and UCLA. Dan had the opportunity to practice Balinese shadow puppetry and 'topeng' (mask) performance. It was a wonderfully intense experience with lots of very fast collaboration and creation.


CALIFORNIA

Rite of Passage

HIGHWAYS, Santa Monica

May 10, 2003: Dan had his head shaved onstage as part of Highways' 14th Birthday Celebration. Assisted by performers Bennett Schneider and Pete Lee, Kwong sat stoically as audience members donated $10 each to come onstage and snip off a lock of his hair. Meanwhile a videotape was projected showing emails Dan received, cheering him on to dome-hood, along with photos of Dan from age 3 months to present, sporting all manner of hairdos.

Audience-barbers received groovy certificates of participation. Final shaving of the Kwong-Dome was executed by Pete, to the strains of Also Sprach Zarathustra. The ritual raised over $500 for Highways.


THAILAND, LAOS

The Mekong Project - Phase I

Chiang Mai; Louang Prabang

March 2003: Dan was a Co-Facilitator on this 3-week residency in northern Thailand and Laos, helping artists and staff work together successfully. The Mekong Project was a multi-year project funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and administered by Dance Theater Workshop in NY, to develop resources for Southeast Asian artists in the Mekong region.

Highlight of the residency was a 4-day boat ride down the Mekong River to Louang Prabang, Laos which inspired the creation of a new solo performance, "On The Mekong".


Boyle Heights Residency


Read a thoughtful recap of Dan’s performance residency in conjunction with Great Leap as part of the Japanese American National Museum's January 2003 exhibition Boyle Heights: The Power Of Place.

> CLICK HERE <



GOOD NEWS!

Award From JAHSSC

April 9, 2005: The Japanese American Historical Society of Southern California honored Dan for outstanding contributions to Japanese American history and culture at a lovely banquet event. Also honored that evening were videographers John Esaki and Amy Kato, and traditional dancer Sumako Azuma.

Award From LACAD

April 27, 2005: The Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department announced the recipients of its COLA grant for mid-career artists, and Dan was among the group. The award resulted in the creation of a new performance presented in May 2006 at Barnsdall Gallery Theater (see above).

Award From CCF

June 30, 2004: The California Community Foundation announced recipients of its individual fellowships for "Outstanding Mid-Career Artists" (at least 15 years of professional experience). From 300 applicants, 5 California artists were selected for this highly-competitive fellowship. Recipients were Enrique Celaya, Karen Kimmel, Rika Ohara, Eloy Torrez and DK. Congratulations to all the winners!

   

CONTENTS ©2015 DAN KWONG