Dan Kwong

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Dan Kwong
Born (1954-11-26) November 26, 1954 (age 63)
United States
Occupation Performance artist, writer, teacher
Nationality American
Genre solo performance

Dan Kwong is an American performance artist, writer, teacher and visual artist. He has been presenting his solo performances since 1989, often drawing upon his own life experiences to explore personal, historical and social issues. He is of Chinese American and Japanese American descent. His works intertwine storytelling, multimedia, dynamic physical movement, poetry, martial arts and music. Kwong is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has been an Artist with the multicultural performing arts organization Great Leap since 1990 and assumed the position of Associate Artistic Director in 2011,[1] and a Resident Artist at the 18th Street Arts Center[2] in Santa Monica, California since 1992.

Performance works

Major Solo Performances

  • Secrets of the Samurai Centerfielder 1989
  • Tales From the Fractured Tao 1991
  • Monkhood in 3 Easy Lessons 1993
  • Correspondence of a Dangerous Enemy Alien 1995
  • The Dodo Vaccine 1996
  • The Night the Moon Landed on 39th Street 1999
  • It's Great 2B American 2008
  • What? No Ping-Pong Balls? 2013

These works explore subjects such as cultural confusion and discovery in a mixed heritage family; allergic reactions to “Model Minority Syndrome"; dysfunctional family "Asian American-style"; Asian male identity; Japanese American internment during WWII; the impact of HIV/AIDS on Asian Americans; the American space program; Asian American single motherhood. Kwong has performed in venues across the United States and in England, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Mexico, Canada, China and Korea.

Major Collaborative Performances

  • Samurai Centerfielder Meets The Mad Kabuki Woman (with Denise Uyehara) 1997
  • The Art of Rice (international ensemble) 2003
  • Sleeping With Strangers (with Chinese opera artist Peng Jingquan. Beijing, China) 2006
  • Once We Wanted (with dancer/choreographer Iu-Hui Chua) 2011


Kwong's first play, Be Like Water, was developed with Cedar Grove OnStage, and received its world premiere at East West Players in Los Angeles, in September 2008, as part of the EWP mainstage season. Directed by Chris Tashima.[3] It is currently being developed into a feature-length screenplay.


Since 2010 Kwong has directed and edited an ongoing series of environmental music videos in collaboration with singer/songwriter Nobuko Miyamoto, produced by Great Leap: B.Y.O. CHOPSTIX (2010), MOTTAINAI (2011), and CYCLES OF CHANGE (2012), all featuring Miyamoto as the lead character. CYCLES OF CHANGE was created in collaboration with the acclaimed Chicano rock group QUETZAL and features their lead singer Martha Gonzalez. All videos can be seen on YouTube under the Great Leap channel, and can be found through greatleap.org.

In Fall of 2014 Kwong began preliminary work on a new documentary/art video project, The House on Robinson Road. The video will look at the legacy of Kwong's great-grandfather through his house on Hong Kong island (built in 1933 for him, his wife, 5 concubines and 21 children), and its connection to the evolving relationship between Kwong and his father.

Published works

Kwong's first book, FROM INNER WORLDS TO OUTER SPACE – The Multimedia Performances of Dan Kwong, a collection of performance texts from 1989 to 2000, was published in 2004 (University of Michigan Press). The significance of his body of work is acknowledged in the landmark book, A History of Asian American Theatre, by Esther Kim Lee (Cambridge University Press, 2006). His work is featured in Hideyuki Yamamoto's book, Asian American Drama: Dramatic Representations of Masculinity (Kobe University, 2008), the first book ever published in Japan on this topic. Also: Performing America (Univ. Michigan Press, 1999) in Robert Vorlicky's essay, "Marking Change, Marking America: Contemporary Performance and Men's Autobiographical Selves"; and In Other Los Angeleses (Univ. of California Press, 2002) by Meiling Cheng. His essays and performances have been published in The Journal of American Drama and Theatre (2002, Vol. 14, No. 2), Getting Your Solo Act Together (Heinemann Books), High Performance Magazine, and various anthologies including On A Bed of Rice – A Feast of Asian American Erotica; Yellow Light – The Flowering of Asian American Art, and Living in America – A Pop Culture Reader. His visual artwork is included in Let's Get It On – The Politics of Black Performance published by the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London.

Teaching / Curating

As a teacher Kwong has led numerous workshops in autobiographical writing and performing throughout the U.S. and in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, Canada and Japan. In 1991 he founded “Treasure In The House,” L.A.’s first Asian Pacific American performance and visual art festival, presented at Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica, California, serving as its curator until 2003. Beginning in 1994, his ground-breaking performance workshops ("Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Asian Men...") ultimately led to the spawning of similar groups (led by "alumni" of the original group) in New York, New Haven, Boston, Portland, Philadelphia and beyond, playing a key role in the development of the national Asian American performance community. Since 2005 he has served as Project Director of "Collaboratory", Great Leap's mentorship program designed to develop the next generation of artist-leaders in Los Angeles.

Fellowships / Awards

City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Grantee (Samurai Centerfielder) - 1990

Brody Arts Fund Fellowship, Performance Art (Samurai Centerfielder) - 1990

Art Matters Inc. Fellowship, Performance Art (Samurai Centerfielder) - 1990

City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Grantee (Tales From The Fractured Tao) - 1991

National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship - 1992

City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Grantee - 1992

Franklin Furnace New York, Emerging Artist Fellowship - 1994

Japanese American Internment Commemoration Competition Grantee (Correspondence of a Dangerous Enemy Alien) - 1994

City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Grantee - 1994

National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (The Dodo Vaccine) - 1995

Art Matters Inc. Fellowship, Performance Art - 1995

L.A. Contemporary Exhibitions Project Grant - 1995

Alpert Award in the Arts, Nominee - 1995

Djerassi Residency Fellowship - 1995

Rockefeller Foundation Award (The Dodo Vaccine) - 1995/96

City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Grantee - 1997

Asia Pacific Performance Exchange (APPEX) International Residency Fellowship - 1999

The Durfee Foundation - Project Completion Grant (Woman Warrior Tales, Indonesia) - 2000

Asian Cultural Council - Traveling Fellowship (From Inner Worlds, Thailand) - 2001

Alpert Award in the Arts, Nominee - 2001

City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Grantee – 2003

California Community Foundation, Outstanding Mid-Career Artist Fellowship – 2004

Japanese American Historical Society, Outstanding Contributions to Japanese American Culture – 2005

C.O.L.A. Award, Outstanding Mid-Career Artist - 2005

The Durfee Foundation - Project Completion Grant (Sleeping With Strangers, Kunming/Beijing/L.A.) - 2006

The Durfee Foundation - Project Completion Grant (Be Like Water) – 2007

Gyeonggi Creation Center Intl. Residency Fellowship, South Korea - 2009

City of Los Angeles Culture Exchange International Grantee (From Inner Worlds, South Korea) – 2010

City of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Artist Fellowship (The House on Robinson Road, Hong Kong) – 2014/15


External links