Temple professor meets life-long goal at Annenberg Center

Five pieces from Kun-Yang Lin’s career will be performed at the venue in April, including the premiere of “Spring 101.”

Performers at Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers rehearse for the April premiere of “Spring 101” on Thursday at the South Philly studio on 9th Street near Sears. | EMMA PADNER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

When he immigrated to the United States in 1993 from Taiwan, Kun-Yang Lin came alone. He knew no one. 

Around this time, he wrote “Moon,” a dance piece expressing longing for familiarity and missing home.

“Creating dance is like eating,” said Lin, a Temple University dance professor. “You have to eat, you have to produce. When I moved to Philadelphia, I would say, ‘Dance is life, life is dance. Dance is my religion.’ So dance is everything. It’s your being.”

On April 12 and 13, “Moon,” along with four other pieces — “CHI,” “The Land,” “Dreamscape” and “Spring 101,” — will be performed at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in University City. The theater is affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania. 

All but “Spring 101” are repertoire pieces for Lin’s South Philly dance studio, Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers, on 9th Street near Sears. The event will mark the premiere of “Spring 101.”

Annenberg Center Live and NextMove Dance, a dance outreach, education and performance company, are presenting the performance. Seeing dancers perform his work on Annenberg’s stage is a life-long dream, Lin said.

“In order to get to the Annenberg Center stage, you have to be world-class,” Lin said. “We are on that stage…and a lot of [dancers] are Temple alumni and so I’m very proud of them.”

The program at the Annenberg Center will showcase Lin’s work from 1993-2019. The audience will witness how his work has changed and evolved, including how it has become westernized over the years, Lin said.

 Francis Markocki, a 2016 dance alumnus, will perform at the Annenberg Center with Lin’s dance studio. He became a company member at Lin’s studio in 2017 and works as a dance artist and the studio’s technical director.

The dance group has been working on pieces for the Annenberg Center since May 2018, Markocki said, and he hopes to successfully perform the challenging pieces Lin chose.

“Annenberg Center is one of the biggest stages that Philadelphia has to offer and being represented under NextMove Dance is a huge honor,” he added. “It’s always one of those stages where…I’ve always aspired to perform on…and it’s nice to be able to do that.”

Gracianna Coscia-Collins, the education manager at Lin’s dance studio, hopes to have as many young people as possible attend the performance, which she said teaches viewers about the self and movement. Lin’s work taps into self-reflection, mindfulness and spirituality, Coscia-Collins said, which can be a learning opportunity.

Before moving to the U.S., Lin toured internationally with London-based Transitions Dance Company. He has since performed with esteemed U.S. dance organizations like the Martha Graham Company, and has collaborated with famed post-modernist choreographers like Trisha Brown and Lynn Shapiro.

The premiere of “Spring 101” commemorates Lin reaching his dream of having his dances performed at Annenberg, he said. It’s the 101st piece he has choreographed.

While writing it, he put himself in a “beginner’s mind,” going back to the basics to keep fresh ideas while still sharing his past knowledge, Lin said. The end of the dance features dancers running toward the back of the stage to shift the view of the audience and give the effect of a new beginning, like spring, he said.

“You have that expectation when the first time spring finally comes, the warmth of the sunlight feels different,” Lin said. “Everything feels different. So you see a shifted view, one is almost longing to the dancers to that infinity, so everyone has that new beginning.”

The KYL/D team has been rehearsing for the Annenberg performance four times a week for almost a year. 

“Maybe [with] the work, the world premiere of ‘Spring 101,’ everybody will embrace the beginner’s mind,” he added. “The future is wide open.”

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