I’m in Dance Mission Theater, thumbing through the dually English/Traditional Cantonese program of Lenora Lee Dance’s 7th Anniversary Season show and flashing back to a recent psychology class. The topic: How can you reasonably trust that a translator can express, from patient to therapist and back, the intricacies of human experience? Stress? Heartache?
I’m oversimplifying the question here (sorry Dr. Chun), but it’s a good place to start when viewing Lee’s hour and 45-minute long, 4-piece dance show.
At the core of it all is the idea of movement as expression– “Our first language,” as Lee explained during a preview* of her upcoming show –and the innate communication our bodies themselves translate. This idea unfolds via martial arts-tinged dance, and vis-a-vis the history and culture of Chinese immigrants in San Francisco. It’s consistently tense, electric, emotionally engaging, challenging even– and completely fitting of the tumultuous times Lee’s ancestors have seen in a city that consistently forsook them.