Bridging The Cultural Gap Through Chinese Traditional Dance

Red Silk Dancers

Last Saturday, we went to check out The Red Silk Dancers' at the Sirovich Center. The audience was filled with friends, family and members of the Chinatown community. Afterwards, we had a chance to catch up with Margaret Yuen, the director of Red Silk Dancers, for an exclusive interview.

In the Summer of 1977, Margaret Yuen moved to NYC without speaking a lick of English. Luckily, she was able to find a home in one of NYC's most famous neighborhoods - Chinatown. Although Margaret felt alienated in American culture, she was able to express herself through traditional Chinese dance. "At that time, there was nowhere to go to study Chinese dance. I was given a gift where I didn't have to pay a fee to learn how to dance, so I wanted to give this opportunity to other young Chinese Americans," said Margaret.

Through word of mouth from friends and relatives, Margaret's dance company quickly grew. She has been very successful in the last 40 years in promoting Chinese culture and heritage to the ABC's (American Born Chinese) and bridging the cultural gap. Margaret also recalls, "In the 60's - you never saw professional Chinese dancers!"

The Red Silk Dancers company was formed and Margaret still teaches out of her private studio on East Broadway. Why the "Red Silk Dancers?" According to Margaret, "From what I've seen, the American audience is most impressed with the red silk ribbon. Red is the color of prosperity and silk is special to Chinese culture. I've decided to end all of my dance programs with the Red Silk Dance, bringing prosperity to everyone in the audience!"

Fun fact? Margaret is forever grateful to the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory for helping her a long time ago, by acting as a box office! Patrons could visit the store for some ice cream and purchase tickets to her dance show. Business owners in Chinatown have been helping each other for decades!

For more information on future performances or dance classes, email Margaret at RSDANCERS@JUNO.COM