Jiali Wang’s 7MPR Themed Dance Theater is Giving Voice to Dance in New York City

Times like these remind us of the failings of words. Discord seems ever present and constant yet the need to understand each other is paramount. Jiali Wang feels that the answer may be found in dance; yes, dance! When you consider the idea, it makes complete sense. Dance has no need for dialogue. Dance is individually expressive. Dance typically is paired with music and this promotes the idea of listening. Jiali has rooted this genius concept in her 7MPR Themed Dance Theater. Located in New York City, the theater presents original works based on proactive themes in the present day. Discussions follow these productions; diverse perspectives are welcomed. While it seems everyone is yelling and nobody is listening, Jiali Wang has created a scenario that requires quiet attention and simultaneously allows artists to create. As the Founder, Artistic Director, and Choreographer of 7Midnights Physical Research Themed Dance Theater, her work spans organizing choreographers, doing program design and management, choreographing dance, and developing the forward momentum of the program. Through this, Jiali is giving a platform to the dance community and prompting discussion for society in general.

7MPR Founder&Artistic Director Choreographer 
headshot by Louis Zhao

7MPR Themed Dance Theater began as 7Midnights Physical Research. Jiali conceived of this as dedicated to the exploration of seven social issues: class, education, ability, sexuality, race, age, and gender. The seven topics of social issues are depicted by the dance movements through the "Themed Dance Theater" program. The moniker is not as obvious as one might think. Wang reveals, “The word ‘midnight’ is not actually about a 12 AM but rather representative of a special time to contemplate one’s self and the influences that surround us. In the same way the things are unseen and unclear at midnight, society can be challenged to see the truth clearly. We need to address these. The premise is that the artists create a physical and spiritual communication in the midst of this ‘darkness’ and address a variety of social issues. The result is topical and spontaneous creativity without being pop culture art.”

                              "赤RED" New Dancer Showcase: Strasser Theater: SUNY Brokcport: Nov 2015

7MPR’s first performance in February of this year featured a collection of acclaimed artists presenting their perspectives on the themes established by Jiali. These include: "Dark Lip" (Gender), "Falling Apple" (Sexuality), "Milk Bottle" (Education), "Moon Coin" (Class), "Cloud Balloon" (Ability), "Gray Bubble" (Race), and "Tiny Wings" (Age). The choreographers of these works represent a diverse group of professionals with overlapping styles and backgrounds. Notable for their talent as well as their unique perspective, they espouse the very eclectic mindsets that 7MPR hopes to cultivate. Ranging from Michael Bishop’s (Artistic Director and choreographer of the Mollét Contemporary Ballet) “Sync:Chron, theme of work: Cloud Balloon – Ability” to the internationally acclaimed (choreographed works in NYC, Tel Aviv, and Hawaii) Kelsey Greenway’s “Five Centimeters Per Second, themes of work: ‘Tiny Wings’- Age; ‘Dark Lip’- Gender; ‘Cloud Balloon’- Ability”, and many others, the dance styles and topics intermingle, mirroring the conversation they inspire. Chinese native, NYC transplant Jiali herself contributed to the diversity with “A Clock Chaos, themes of work: ‘Tiny Wings’- Age; ‘Dark Lip’- Gender; ‘Cloud Balloon’- Ability” expanding the influences to this premier of 7MPR. Famed choreographers such as Shannon Murphy (known for her work with the Cincinnati Ballet and Disney World Performing Arts), Leah Moriarty, Josh Pacheco, and a host of others are a continuing part of 7MPR’s mission.

7MPR Themed Dance Theater-The Second Midnight Performance 
by Christine Abbate

New York City is a microcosm of different cultures, ideals, and perspectives living in close proximity. In numerous ways, this is the ideal testing ground for an innovative approach to art paired with communication. 7MPR hopes to be the springboard between not only dance and society but also a realignment of discussion. Each performance is followed by an open dialogue between artist and audience to share thoughts and ideas. The stage transforms itself into real world chat room for an honest conversation; the performance being the catalyst for this. While intended to be subtle, this course is well planned. Jiali concedes, “Language can be problematic for myself and others to express ourselves accurately. I want to find a way to let people know about me and also I want to listen to others in order to get the answers to solve some issues surrounding me. Dance is a very magical thing. In my opinion, movement language is the most real language that purely conveys people’s perception through actions. Therefore, to create this dance theatre project is to build a way for me to communicate with others and let people to know about me with physical and spiritual language.” At a time in which we see more people confined to their own tribes, Jiali Wang’s 7MPR Themed Dance Theater is an olive branch to all who comprehend that a better future is one in which we listen more to each other; even if that means that listening first comes in the form of dance.

Written by Kelly King

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