Asian American Arts Alliance

35th Anniversary Gala




Actor |  Dancer  |  Choreographer

2017 Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award Winner

Co-Founder and Artistic Director, National Asian Artists Project



Theater Director/Writer  |  Cultural Organizer

Director, Arts in a Changing America


Jadin Wong Dance Awardee

Van Lier Fellow in Music Performance

Van Lier Fellow in Music Composition



Spoken Word Artist

Music by


David Henry Hwang, Honorary Co-Chair

Janice Won, Co-Chair

Rocky Chin & May Chen, Co-Chairs

Hong Qu, Co-Chair

Aparna Balaraman

Eveline Chang

Anita Chiu

Tara Gupta

Amy Hau

Leslie Kuo

Kathleen Wah Lee

Ronald D. Lee

Mei Hua Society

Ron Ostermann

Ravi Rajan & Lucy Yates

Athena Robles & G. Richard Dodge, Jr.

Beesham Sheecharan

Mark Swicegood

Helen Wan

Cindy Zhou

List in formation


Capital One, Origins Asian Business Resource Group New York


Domo Taco



Baayork Lee has performed in a multitude of Broadway shows and created the role of Connie in A Chorus Line. As Michael Bennett’s assistant choreographer on A Chorus Line, she has directed and choreographed for many national and international companies in Klagenfurt, Austria, Santiago, Chile, Hollywood Bowl and Pace University. Her directing and choreography credits also include The King and I and Bombay Dreams (National tours), Rodgers & Hammerstein Cinderella (NYC Opera), Barnum (Australia), Carmen Jones, Kennedy Center), Porgy and Bessand Jesus Christ Superstar (European tours), Gypsy, and A New Brain. She has also choreographed other shows including: Miss Saigon (KC Starlight), Mack and Mabel (Shaw Festival), Animal Crackers, South Pacific (Helen Hayes nominations), Coconuts, Camelot, and Damn Yankees all at Arena Stage in Washington, DC. She was the resident choreographer for the Washington Opera. Goya with Plácido Domingo, Sly with José Carreras, and The Merry Widow are just a few of her opera credits. Baayork has restaged Michael Bennett's choreography for the Wynn Hotel's musical review ShowStoppers and choreographed Goliath and David for the season 5 of The Good Wife for CBS. Through her nonprofit organization, National Asian Artists Project, Baayorks’ vision includes educating, cultivating, and stimulating audiences and artists of asian descent through the many programs the company offers. The organization has produced Oklahoma!, Carousel, Hello Dolly!, OLIVER! and Honor (NAAP’s first collaboration with Prospect Theatre Company) with all Asian American casts. Using classical musical theatre shows, NAAP has made audiences more aware that talent goes beyond ethnicity. Baayork has made it a large part of her mission to educate aspiring artists in musical theatre. She has created Musical Theater Schools in Seoul, Korea, Tokyo, Japan and a Theater Club at the Yung Wing Elementary School (PS124) in Chinatown, NY. Lee has also taught masterclasses at NYU, Pace University, Temple University, Tokyo Showa University, Stauffer Dance Center, Switzerland and The Triple Threat Program in Munich, Germany.She has received the 2014 Paul Robeson Award from Actors’ Equity Association, the Asian Woman Warrior Award for Lifetime Achievement from Columbia College, Asian/Pacific American Heritage Association Achievement in Arts Award and Dynamic Achiever Award from OCA Westchester as well as others. Most recently, Baayork Lee was the recipient of the 2017 Isabelle Stevenson Award. Ms. Lee is honored for her commitment to future generations of artists through her work with National Asian Artists Project and theatre education programs around the world.

Roberta Uno is a theater director, writer, and national arts leader. She is the Director of Arts in a Changing America, a national project on changing demographics and the arts based at the California Institute of the Arts. She was the Program Officer and then Senior Program Officer for Arts and Culture at the Ford Foundation 2002-2015. From 1979-2002, she was the founder and Artistic Director of the New WORLD Theater, a theater dedicated to the work of artists of color, at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a Professor of directing and dramaturgy in the university’s Department of Theater. As a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, she directed, produced, presented, and dramaturged over 200 works at New WORLD Theater archived here. Her publications include The Color Of Theater: Race, Culture, and Contemporary Performance, UK: Continuum Press, 2002; Unbroken Thread: Plays by Asian American Women, Amherst: UMass Press, 1993. She is the editor of new editions in 2015 of Monologues for Actors of Color: Women and Monologues for Actors of Color: Men, UK: Routledge. She was inducted into the College of American Theater Fellows in 2014 and has been recognized for her leadership at New WORLD Theater through numerous awards including from the Association for Performing Arts Presenters, the Association for Theater in Higher Education, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Her efforts in philanthropy to build a diverse American arts sector have been recognized by awards from 651 Arts, Chen Dance, Cornerstone Theater, the First People’s Fund, the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, and the National Black Theater.


Shoey Sun was born in China and started piano lessons at the age of four. She moved to Houston, Texas, when she was eight, where her parents encouraged her take dance lessons with renowned Chinese dancer/actress, Zhou Jie at J&L Dance School. After falling in love with dance, she continued her studies at the Princeton Ballet School and the Pennsylvania School of Performing Arts when her family moved to the East Coast. Going against the grain, Shoey decided to pursue a major in Political Science with a minor in Chinese Language at New York University. During her time at NYU, she co-founded an extracurricular hip hop dance team that has evolved into an artist-run entity now celebrating its 10th active year. EPIC Motion Dance Company has since been a nurturing home to over150 dancers. After graduation, Shoey pursued her dance/choreography career full-time. She has featured in shows for Icona Pop, Pharrell, McQ by Alexander McQueen, APAP Dance Festival, and has studied and worked with choreographers Rhapsody James, Fatima Robinson, Brice Mousset, Dana Foglia, Nadine Bommer, and more. In 2015, she co-founded | vessels |–a project based movement-theatre company–with long time collaborator Kris Seto. Their work has been featured in Mare Nostrum Element's Emerging Choreographers Series, White Wave Dance Festival, Idaco NYC dance festival, New York Fashion Week, and INSITU Dance Festival. | vessels | will be a recipient of the 2018 CUNY Dance Initiative grant. Shoey is currently a dance lecturer at LaGuardia Community College. She is also a lover of photography and design.

Pawan Benjamin,
a saxophonist, flautist, and composer, started his musical training at a young age in 
Madison, Wisconsin, receiving guidance and mentorship from jazz luminaries such as bassist Richard Davis, saxophonist Hannah Jon Taylor, and AACM founder Roscoe Mitchell. In 2006 he left Wisconsin to attend the Manhattan School of Music, where he plunged headfirst into the diverse music scene of New York City, performing and recording with musicians from around the globe and across genres, including Jazz, Hip Hop, Nepali Folk, Indian Classical Music and more. Pawan has collaborated with artists such as Roscoe Mitchell, Ranjit Barot, Taufiq Qureshi, Marc Cary, Rez Abbasi, Bill T. Jones and many others. Performance credits stretch across the globe at venues including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC), the Rose Theater, Celebrate Brooklyn, the National Center of Performing Arts in Mumbai, India, the Bimhuis in Amsterdam, and countless other venues in between.

Rob Rusli is an artist, film composer, and rap music maker. He has written music for many films, including the feature film, Good Game, which won Best Original Score at the 2015 IndieCapitol Film Festival, as well as two new feature films, Corridor Four, being released in 2017, and Moko Jumbie, which recently premiered at Los Angeles Film Festival 2017. He has collaborated with artist Casey Tang on a Sinofuturist soundscape for his Untitled (Rivers) video installation at the Queens Museum, and frequently collaborates with poet and drag performer Wo Chan. He composed music and worked sound design for Wo Chan's WHITE FLAG/WHITE FACE, and together they created I <3 U ALWAYS 4EVER, a performance art piece combining pop music, drag, and an emotional soundscape threading interviews with people of color about loss and separation. The film also features music that premiered at BAM Next Wave Festival. He has worked on various experimental rap projects that have been featured on Tinymixtapes, Okayplayer, BBC6, Earmilk, Twitch, and Said the Gramaphone. Through his most recent rap project, OHYUNG, he's released an EP titled Yellow Jesus, and performed at SOB's, Trans-Pecos, as well as collaborated with rapper Kool AD on his 2016 mixtape PEYOTE KARAOKE.


Kelly Tsai is an award-winning writer, performer, and filmmaker based in Brooklyn. In 2017, Kelly was honored as a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in Non-Fiction Literature (Memoir) and poet-in-residence for the Taipei Poetry Festival. Her work as an artist and her views on the unique nature of artist entrepreneurship will be the subject of a forthcoming profile on Kelly’s spoken word poetry has been featured at over 700 performances worldwide including the White House, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Apollo Theater, BAM, HBO's "East of Main Street: Asians Aloud" and three seasons of HBO's Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry. She has performed at events featuring leading thought leaders like Bill Clinton, Gloria Steinem, and Donna Brazile, and entertainers like Tyra Banks, Harry Belafonte, and Drake. In 2016, Kelly was named a Woman of Distinction by the American Association for University Women. In 2015, she was recognized by Americorps Alums' National Leader Award, New York Historical Society’s "Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion" exhibit, and NBC's News' "Asian American Poets to Watch." Kelly is an alumna of writing workshops and residencies for her poetry, fiction, and theatrical work: Callaloo, Cave Canem, Hedgebrook, Kundiman, New York Live Arts, VONA, Rising Circle Theater. She has received grants from Asian American Arts Alliance, Asian Women's Giving Circle, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Her theatrical work has been developed and presented by Ars Nova, Downtown Urban Theater Festival, Museum of Chinese in America, Brooklyn Museum, BRIC, El Museo del Barrio, Culture Project, University of California-Santa Cruz Rainbow Theater, and more., @kellytsai_nyc,

David Thai (dj shakez) grew up in Brentwood, Long Island and has been djing for 10+ years.  Growing up in the 90s, Hip-Hop and R&B (check out his Spotify playlists!) was a major cultural influence, from dance to style.  DJing is a passion and the ability to get people moving and having a fun time is such a joyous feeling.  Shakez has had residencies in the Lower East Side (Foundation) to Midtown (Aspen Social) and has played at for other Asian organizations like APEX, Chinese-American Planning Council, Taiwanese American Professionals and the Singapore Tourism Board.  During weekdays, David works at an advertising agency, specializing in Search Engine Marketing.  His favorite pastimes include shopping, playing volleyball, discovering new coffee shops and traveling! 

IG: @djshakez  |  Facebook: /djshakez  |  Spotify: david shaekz thai

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