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Hidden Gems: Meet Jiali Wang of 7Midnights Physical Research

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jiali Wang.

Hi Jiali, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I started my professional dance training at Sichuan Dance School in my hometown, Chengdu, when I was 9 years old, and did lots of Chinese traditional dances after I became a Chinese traditional dancers at Sichuan Song and Dance Ensemble. Then, I changed my major to Contemporary dance choreography at Beijing Dance Academy for Bachelor’s degree, and went on to received a MFA at SUNY The College at Brockport 2014-2017. I have been a Contemporary/Postmodern dance artist in New York for almost 8 years, plus my college time at Brockport. And now, Im the founder, artistic director, producer and choreographer for my own dance theater project, 7Midnights Physical Research(7MPR). The main branch performance program of 7MPR is called, 7MPR Themed Dance Theater-Midnights Performance Series, which is a original and creative idea from my MFA thesis. Of course, about my MFA thesis, it comes from another incredible story when I was studying at American Dance Festival (ADF) in 2016 after getting the tuition scholarship from them, and that experience entirely changes my dance world.

ADF is the place where I naturally started my thesis research before my third year at SUNY Brockport. A good time, place, and unbelievable experience that offered me a boarder view of the real dance world in USA through a diverse platform of dance, in terms of the aspects of movement research, culture, environment, social factors, dance in solidarity, body and mind, human rights, social justice in dance language, that all made me rethink about what our physical movement is for? What is the real function of dance? The fate between me and dance brings me to another level with a start of new thinking and understanding to dance, which also provides me more and more interest and perception towards the unlimited dance world. 7MPR Themed Dance Theater is a part of my study from ADF as an experimental dance and music theater focusing on performance with 7 themes of social issues: Class, Education, Ability, Sexuality, Race, Age, Gender. The 7 themes were originally talked by my ADF teacher, Jesse Zaritt, through his discussion class which refreshed my mind while there were some social matters happening at that time. Another one who inspired me was my ADF choreographer, Vanessa Voskuil, when we had a short conversation about human perception. The time, person, environment and opportunity built an ideal foundation that has been growing my interest to see more about the relationship between dance and social issues since then. Of course, the big dream and my future goal is to see if I can develop 7Midnights Physical Research to a LLC, or Non-Profit Organization. I even have slowly started the other branch program for cultural dance communities called, 7MPR Themed Cultural Dance Collective, since we have joined the annual cultural dance event, Dance Parade NYC, from 2019 to 2021, it shows another perspective of 7MPR for cultural dance development.

From the another side of me, I’m working for New York Chinese Cultural Center too as a dance artist, teaching artist, and company coordinator, sometimes taking position as a production manager for special events. Obviously, I am a dance artists working on both contemporary and traditional dance fields. Additionally, something else about my personal role and identity, I am an immigrant artist, Anti-aging, feminist, and since I’m running 7MPR, entrepreneur has become another role of myself. Definitely, I want to learn and do more things for my interesting life since I found my life has been “flowing” like the water.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Yes, to be a dance artist, especially immigrant artist is hard. I appreciate the road of my dance journey that guides me to a right direction and allows me to learn things, especially the start of 7MPR and have more and more great friends and artists to support and building this community since 2019. But it is a challenge!

A smooth road? Yes, at the beginning of it, somehow I feel it is! After graduating from college, I just focused on work and sometimes I don’t even know how thing has lead me to build the idea from my MFA thesis to a real creative dance project, it just popped out like a spark. And then, I started to write down some information in 2018 when met my friend and shared this unforeseen idea with her, after that, she helped me making links, website and domain…… so we continued the interesting “work-in-progress” until it really happened in 2019 when I reached out to the nonprofit organization, Arts On Site, and shared my idea with them. My idea of 7MPR performance was smoothly accepted by Arts On Site, and they were willing to have us to run our performance series at their space. That was how the partnership has been built between us (7MPR) and Arts On Site.

However, after a successful 7 shows in the whole year of 2019, 2020 came along with the impact of Covid-19, and I strongly noticed that financial issues has been a problem, and we do need more financial supports to continue the future performances. I tried fundraiser and donation on GoFundMe, but it brought just a very small donation without any possibility to run a long-terms performance project. It looks like I need to even learn more about grant writing as my “new strategy” in the future. Exactly, to start this dance project looks smooth for me, but how to maintain and build up things will be the biggest challenge. At this point, somehow, I think it is hard to run a project as an immigrant artist when I spent more time and energy doing things by myself, even if I do have some friends and 7MPR artists who are very supportive for 7MPR. But, when I saw other artists, organizations, and companies running their projects, I always tell myself: I still need to make more efforts, not enough! Yes, it is like my language learning process, I need to make more efforts than others as an “alien artist!”

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
7Midnights Physical Research (7MPR) is a creative dance theater project which combines dance and live music in its ongoing performance series. It has two-branch programs: 7MPR Themed Dance Theater-Midnights Performance Series, and 7MPR Themed Cultural Dance Collective, which we want to meet the goal for building the cultural dance community in Manhattan. The Themed Dance Theater-Midnight Performance Series focuses on NYC based artists and has been creating engaging shows since 2019. Our main program, 7MPR Themed Dance Theater is an experimental dance and music theater focusing on performance with 7 themes of social issues: Class, Education, Ability, Sexuality, Race, Age, Gender. By producing shows and bringing artists together with a diverse view of performing arts in dance and music, 7MPR has established a wonderful artists community.

During the time of COVID-19 from 2020 to 2021, 7MPR has continued its operation running six virtual shows and one in-person solidarity performance under the situation of Anti-Asian Racism for artists who are making dance and music in hopes of giving it’s artist the platform to reflect on the hardships of being COVID era artists. It also provide a safe space and platform for people to have access to watch diverse and incredible works from talented 7MPR artists. With subjects about Anti-Asian Racism/Stop Asian Hate & Any Hate, LGBTQIA and Black Lives Matter, 7MPR fully support artists who involved in any those type of social issues as a themed dance and music performance theater “Space” to discuss social factors in order to explore more about the relationship between dance and society problems.

My roles at 7MPR have been involved in a multi-position as a founder, artistic director, producer, curator and choreographer. But as I said, to be in these roles as an immigrant artist, sometimes I’m still feeling I must do more than others, while other art business are growing fast and strong with the group of supporters, funders, sponsors, and donors. It is so wonderful to see that power. They are all my mentors, and make me think about how I can reach the goal and have more potential to grow a better business. I personally don’t like to compare with others but sometimes it is hard to ignore. I just wish I could had more arms and make it happen for 7MPR.

We love surprises, fun facts and unexpected stories. Is there something you can share that might surprise us?
We are starting our new season of 7MPR Themed Dance theater-Midnights Performance Series, and the First Midnight Performance will be on February 27th, 2022. Also, good news is we are getting back to our original performance space, Arts On Site 3F, so hope more people and friends can come to our shows this year.

If there is any fun facts, I will say that people knows 7MPR more than knowing me. I do choreograph new works and still perform contemporary dance and traditional dance, but to be honest, 7MPR is more “popular” than me! I am looking forward to seeing more potential of this dance project in the future!

Contact Info:

Image Credits

Christine Abbate
Zilan Fan
Deb Fong
Renfang Ke
Jiali Wang
Minga Prather
Alex Cavaliere
Joshua Pacheco (@joshpachecophotography)

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