I recently met with Lara Wilson, the co-founder and creative director of The Assembly to discuss the company’s involvement in an evening of live music and movement taking place at 8 PM this Saturday, December 9 at Navel LA in downtown Los Angeles. The event is a celebration of the release of composer/musician Joe Kye’s new album, Migrants and the launching of his and dancer/choreographer Ching Ching Wong’s international tour. Together, Kye and Wong will perform in Nepal, Japan, China, Israel, South Korea, San Francisco and New York City. Other artists involved with this Saturday’s performance include Darin Reyes (Projection artist, Sac); San Francisco based dancer, Byron Roman; and LA dancers Tatiana Barber, Christopher Bordenave, Lindsey Matheis and Charbel Rohayem.

Joe Kye is a violinist-looper and vocalist who launched his professional career in 2013. He was born in Korea and raised in Seattle and went on to study music and culture at Yale University. In 2015 he released his acclaimed Joseph in the Well, and later toured the United States with performances opening for world-renown cellist Yo-Yo Ma and Senator Bernie Sanders, along with a nationally broadcast performance on NPR’s Science Friday. Before teaming up with Ching Ching Wong, Kye’s earlier collaborations include the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, the Sacramento Ballet, Alvin Ailey Composer/Percussionist William Catanzaro, and LA hip-hop artist Jason Chu.

MIGRANTS – Ching Ching Wong, Joe Kye – Photo: Peddecord Photo

Wilson described Kye’s music as being classically rooted. She explained that “there is a joyfulness to it and it is contemporary in the way that he utilizes technology. He can repeat sections automatically, and build on top of it.” She said that his music is dynamic and that it has a sense of layering as it builds. Kye also works with Projectionist Darin Reyes who incorporates software to amplify his projects as the music amplifies. Wilson added that the way the music and projection builds from a single image to what it becomes, adds to the “sense of migration and the building of a life.”

Ching Ching Wong was born in Manila, Philippines and raised in southern California. She received her Bachelors of Fine Arts major in Dance Performance from the University of California, Irvine and in 2010, she joined Northwest Dance Project in Portland, Oregon where she has originated roles in creations by several choreographers, among them Ihsan Rustem, Patrick Delcroix, Lucas Crandall, Felix Landerer, Jiri Pokorny, Didy Veldman, Wen Wei Wang, Sarah Slipper, Alex Soares, Pedro Dias, Carla Mann, and Yin Yue. Wong is currently working as an independent artist.

Wilson describes Wong’s dancing as being very technical and powerful, with a wide range of dynamics. The solo performed by Ching Ching Wong during Migrants was choreographed by Portland, Oregon based dance artist and founding member of Zhukov Dance Theatre, Katie Scherman.

Joe Kye has been collaborating with Northwest Dance Project, which is where he met Ching Ching Wong. Lara Wilson was traveling with her husband through Portland and decided to stop in to take class at the company’s studio. It was there that she met Wong and their conversation led to Wilson becoming involved as producer for this Saturday’s performance at Navel LA There will be at least four songs by Kye with dancing; two of which Wilson is contributing the choreography. Although the dancers on this program are not members of The Assembly Dance, Wilson has previously collaborated with Christopher Bordenave on an earlier project with the company.

Ching Ching Wong, Joe Kye – MIGRANTS – photo by Peddecord Photo

Wilson said that the title Migrants “comes from Joe Kye’s experience migrating from Korea to the US as a young kid, and that we all have these ancestries that brought us to where we are now. (Also) what that means with all the highs and lows, and challenges that come with it.” Kye is the person who is organizing the order of the works in Migrants; putting it together from a music perspective.

Wilson says that The Assembly Dance’s “main concern is collaboration whether that means we are coming to a project fully orchestrating everything from choreography to the event itself; to casting our own dancers while working as a traditional company or working more outside our own wheelhouse. We try to always be open and to concentrate on working with artists from other disciplines and to work with other dancers whom we can learn from that are not tied directly to our circle.”

The Navel LA is a lofted arts incubator and event space located on the second floor at 1611 South Hope Street, between Venice Blvd. and the I-10 Fwy.​ The entrance is on the side of the building leading to a staircase. Wilson smiled and said that it was a dark stairway. “It has a little bit of a Speak Easy feel, but it also feels very authentic!” She added that “it has a very open plan and that it is used for co-working as well as for events. It is very contemporary, and they also have a green screen room in the back area so people can film there.” I asked her if it was a large space and she said yes; that it seemed bigger the second time she went there.

MIGRANTS – Joe Kye, Ching Ching Wong – Photo: Peddecord Photo

According to the press release, “Guests will ascend to the top floor of Navel LA, a hidden contemporary loft in DTLA where they’ll enjoy complimentary small plates from Kobunga BBQ; beer and wine for purchase; and an intimate music and dance performance that will also involve them in​ ​the creation of a communal art piece.”

Migrants takes place on Saturday, December 9th at 8:00 PM (doors open at 7:30). Navel LA is located at 1611 S.​ Hope St, Los Angeles, 90015​ with parking on-site. Nearest cross-streets: S. Hope St. between Venice Blvd. and the I-10 Fwy.​

Tickets are $25 and sold online only. To purchase tickets, click here.

To visit the LA Dance Chronicle Performance Calendar, click here.

Feature photo by Peddecord Photo.