SKINning the surFACE
On April 30, 1975 when the final helicopter lifted off the roof of the American embassy in Saigon, over 30,000 other Americans were left behind. Bearing the inescapable con lai (half breed) traits of American fathers, these children were often abandoned by their Vietnamese relatives and left to roam the streets. They were called bui doi, or “dust of life”. In 1987 the Amerasian Homecoming Act allowed these children entry to America often based solely on the “passport” of these same traits i.e., blue eyes, a big nose or black skin. In SKINning the surFACE Maura Nguyen Donohue uses this historical episode as springboard into a heated exploration of the bi-racial body and its personal and political repercussions.
SKINning continues Maura’s exploration of the hapa (half) experience while also continuing the collaborative process of Maura Donohue/In Mixed Company that helped create Islands: a hapa wet dream and Lotus Blossom Itch for DTW’s SplitStream series in 1995 and 1997. The work continues their focus of combining live music, text, striking visual designs and an athletic combination of traditional Asian and contemporary movement forms. SKINning incorporates non-dance community members in performances. Design collaborators include Jay Ryan, TD at DTW, in lighting design and Perry Yung, La Mama artist-in-residence, in scenic and sound design.
SKINning the surFACE was co-commissioned by New World Theater in Amherst, MA and Dance Theater Workshop in NYC for NWT’s “VietNew: a generation emerges” and DTW’s “Carnival” Festivals in 1998-99.