Asian American Dance Theatre

Clockwise from top: all choreography by Artistic Director Eleanor Yung

Helen Tran in Water Portrait 1975, Boo Teo and Marie Alonzo in The Camp 1986,

Ray Tadio in Kampuchea 1981, Eleanor Yung in Sheng Sheng Man 1976


The Asian American Dance Theatre (AADT) began as the Asian American Dance Workshop, a program of the Basement Workshop in New York's Chinatown. The founders of the Basement Workshop, Eleanor Yung and her brother Danny Yung, began a separate organization in 1974, the AADT, to create and promote Asian American dance. AADT was active from 1974-1990 with multiple types of programming including performances, presentations, and educational events. In 1987, with a significant increase in visual arts programming, the AADT changed its legal name to the Asian American Arts Centre (AAAC), encompassing dance, visual arts, and folk arts programming in performances, exhibitions, research, and education.

New York Season

Asian American Dance Theatre's Annual Season in New York City from 1976-1990 presented works by Artistic Director Eleanor Yung and guest choreographers....

Touring Repertoire

The AADT was notable for its two distinct repertoires: the traditional and the contemporary. The traditional repertoire celebrated and addressed the cultural roots of Asians in America, featuring diverse folk and classical dances of many countries of Asia, while the contemporary repertoire consisted of works by Artistic Director Eleanor Yung....

Some of the dancers not pictured here included: Suarni (Balinese), Deena Burton and Carla Scheele (Javanese), Tomie Hahn (Japanese), Swati Bhise (Indian Bharata Natyam), Mao Zie Ming (Chinese), Young Lan Lee and Nayon Yun (Korean), Luna Borromeo and Ray Tadio (The Philippines).

In their performances, the dancers expressed their art of dance in beauty and aesthetics, spirituality and the sublime, simplicity and complexity, heart and mind, and most importantly the universal language of expression. In full costumes on stage, they not only enriched people's sense of their own heritage, they also expanded the understanding of dance and choreographic aesthetics for Americans and artists alike.

The AADT touring company traveled to Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, North Carolina, Louisiana, New Mexico and upstate New York. Some notable locations included the Sister Fire Festival in Washington, DC, the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, and a 9-campus tour for the Penn State University system.

D'Asia Vu

The D'Asia Vu Performance Series (1986-1990) was the accumulated result of the Dance Discussions held by AADT dancers to voice their concerns related to the field of dance in the U.S. The D'Asia Vu Series presented Asian and non-Asian artists in Asian or fusion dance, theater, and music performances....


The Arts-in-Education program expanded from local presentations in community schools, libraries and community centers, to lecture performances, Pointed Brush Workshops, and the Intensive Indian and Chinese Dance Workshops offered citywide....

Community School of Dance and Art

In 1974, when AADT first began, dance classes were held at the Chatham Square Library on the vacant third floor. The first classes offered were creative dance for little kids, to teach them how to freely express themselves, free from the confine and pressure of immigrant life. In 1976, when the organization moved to its loft space at 26 Bowery, the school was expanded and many more classes were added, including children's ballet. Classes occupied all Saturdays and Sundays....

Special Performances

After the student massacre in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, in response to the massacre, a dance performance was held outdoors in Chinatown, with choreography by company manager and choreographer Marie Alonzo and guest Barbara Chang.

The following year in 1990, AADT initiated and organized a 10-hour performance marathon at the Triplex Theater in the Borough of Manhattan Community College in protest of the student massacre on June 4, 1989 in China.

This Memorial performance in 1990 included many well known New York artists such as Hikari Baba, Fred Houn, and the Susan Marshall Dance Company, to name a few. The main feature in the evening was Zuni Icosahedron of Hong Kong, a company of 12 who flew to NYC to perform China is a Big Garden, choreographed and directed by AADT co-founder Danny Yung.


Photo Credits: Cheung Ching Ming, Sandy Geis, Nina Kuo, Corky Lee, Nathaniel Tileston and Tom Yahashi.

Graphic Design Credits: Lauren Dong, CN Lee, David Moy and Garson Yu.