Under the direction of Eleanor S. Yung, it was notable for combining two distinct repertoires: a traditional repertoire featuring folk and classical dances from all over Asia and a contemporary repertoire which evokes Asian forms and sensibilities. The Asian American Dance Theatre created and sustained a group of artists who helped identify, preserve and enhance many diverse dance styles that originated in the countries of Asia but that were showcased in communities that seek to understand their place in American culture. These dancers not only enriched people's sense of their own heritage, they also opened up the understanding of movement and choreographic aesthetics for Americans and artists in general. The Asian American Dance Theatre company was notable for its early development and pioneer promotion of contemporary Asian American dance, precursor to many new choreographers of east and west synthesis.
Op-Ed: Why Is Ballet So Bad at Representing Asians Onstage? Look at The Choreographers
So, here is the problem. This once again serves the purpose of talking about the representation of Asian Dancers in Ballet. By definition, an Asian American is an individual who is American of Asian descent. There are both the positive and negative arguments regarding being of Asian descent in pop culture, in medicine and in the arts.
But as the number from The King and I began, I felt a familiar discomfort. I rolled my eyes at the faux-Thai headdresses and the "exotic" musical motifs—irritations transferred from the musical, whose Orientalist tendencies are well-documented. But my disappointment doubled as I realized that I have never seen a ballet choreographed by an Asian American on that stage.