November 26, 1954 |
Dan Kwong is an American performance artist, writer, teacher and visual artist. He has been presenting his solo performances since 1989, often drawing upon his own life experiences to explore personal, historical and social issues. He is of mixed Asian American heritage (Chinese American/Japanese American). His works intertwine storytelling, multimedia, dynamic physical movement, poetry, martial arts and music. Kwong is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has been an Artist with the multicultural performing arts organization Great Leap since 1990 and assumed the position of Associate Artistic Director in 2011, and a Resident Artist at the 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica, California since 1992.
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Major Solo Performances
- Secrets of the Samurai Centerfielder
- Tales From the Fractured Tao
- Monkhood in 3 Easy Lessons
- Correspondence of a Dangerous Enemy Alien
- The Dodo Vaccine
- The Night the Moon Landed on 39th Street
- It's Great 2B American
These works explore subjects such as cultural confusion and discovery in a mixed heritage family; allergic reactions to “Model Minority Syndrome”; dysfunctional family “Asian American-style”; Asian male identity; Japanese American internment during WWII; the impact of HIV/AIDS on Asian Americans. Kwong has performed in venues across the United States and in England, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Mexico, Canada, China and Korea.
Major Collaborative Performances
- Samurai Centerfielder Meets The Mad Kabuki Woman (with Denise Uyehara) 1997
- The Art of Rice (international ensemble) 2003
- Sleeping With Strangers (with Chinese opera artist Peng Jingquan. Beijing, China) 2006
- Once We Wanted (with dancer/choreographer Iu-Hui Chua) 2011
Kwong's first play, Be Like Water, was developed with Cedar Grove OnStage, and received its world premiere at East West Players in Los Angeles, in September 2008, as part of the EWP mainstage season. Directed by Chris Tashima.
Since 2010 Kwong has directed and edited an ongoing series of environmental music videos in collaboration with singer/songwriter Nobuko Miyamoto, produced by Great Leap: B.Y.O. CHOPSTIX (2010), MOTTAINAI (2011), and CYCLES OF CHANGE (2012), all featuring Miyamoto as the lead character. CYCLES OF CHANGE was created in collaboration with the acclaimed Chicano rock group QUETZAL and features their lead singer Martha Gonzalez. All videos can be seen on YouTube under the Great Leap channel, and can be found through greatleap.org.
Kwong's first book, "FROM INNER WORLDS TO OUTER SPACE - The Multimedia Performances of Dan Kwong", a collection of his performance texts from 1989 to 2000, was published in 2004 (University of Michigan Press). His essays and performances have been published in The Journal of American Drama and Theatre (2002, Vol. 14, No. 2), Getting Your Solo Act Together (Heinemann Books), High Performance Magazine, and various anthologies including On A Bed of Rice - A Feast of Asian American Erotica; Yellow Light - The Flowering of Asian American Art, and Living in America - A Pop Culture Reader. His visual artwork is included in Let’s Get It On - The Politics of Black Performance published by the (Institute of Contemporary Arts) in London. The significance of his body of work was acknowledged in the landmark book, "A History of Asian American Theatre", by Esther Kim Lee (Cambridge University Press, 2006). His work was featured in (and his photos used on the cover of) Kobe University Professor Hideyuki Yamamoto's book, "Asian American Drama: The Dramatic Representations of Masculinity", the first book ever published in Japan on this topic (2008).
Teaching / Curating
As a teacher Kwong has led numerous workshops in autobiographical writing and performing throughout the U.S. and in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, Canada and Japan. In 1991 he founded “Treasure In The House,” L.A.’s first Asian Pacific American performance and visual art festival presented at Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica, California, serving as its curator through the 90s. Beginning in 1994, his ground-breaking performance workshops ("Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Asian Men...") ultimately led to the spawning of similar groups (led by "alumni" of the original group) in New York, New Haven, Boston, Portland, Philadelphia and beyond, playing a key role in the development of the national Asian American performance community. Since 2005 he has served as Project Director of "Collaboratory", Great Leap's mentorship program designed to develop the next generation of artist-leaders in Los Angeles.
Fellowships / Awards
Kwong is recipient of numerous fellowships, including awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, Asian Cultural Council, Art Matters Inc., Brody Arts Fund, Franklin Furnace, N.Y., Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, California Community Foundation, Durfee Foundation, and has been nominated twice for the Alpert Award in the Arts. In 2004 he was honored for "Outstanding Contributions to Japanese American Culture" by the Japanese American Historical Society, as well as with "Outstanding Mid-Career Artist" awards from the C.C.F. and LA Cultural Affairs Dept.