As an accomplished dance instructor and choreographer from China, Yong Yao came to the United States in 1990 with a passion to expand his career in the art of dancing. He first landed in NYC training at the Cunningham Dance Company; he then started his journey to the west through Utah and Arizona, before finally settling in the Bay Area, which he now lovingly calls “home.”
Yao joined the Chinese Performing Artists of America as artistic director in 1991 where he choreographed and directed many memorable productions. In 2005, jointly with Dennis Nahat, then-Artistic Director of Ballet San Jose, they choreographed a full-length dance drama, “Middle Kingdom, Ancient China”. In the subsequent year, Yao choreographed his original work, “Moon Reflection on Crystal Spring” for Ballet San Jose, transforming a Chinese classical dance into a beautiful ballet piece.
Yao had always aspired to have his own dance school and a space where he can put his passion for teaching and creativity to work. In 1999, he co-founded the San Jose-based YaoYong Dance with the mission to bring the rich and beautiful Chinese culture to the public through grass-root dance education.
While the foundation of his formal Chinese dance training greatly influences his work, Yao always infuses his work with words from his heart, with earnestness and sincerity, which makes his dance pieces so genuine and powerful.
Yao’s repertoire includes Chinese classical dance, ethnic dances from the Mongolian and Tibetan regions, as well as contemporary dance. Each one tells a moving story, sad or happy; it will touch your heart and mine.
In the past two decades, the dance academy has trained over a thousand students of all ages. Despite the demanding teaching schedule, Yao never stops creating new works.
During his tenure at YaoYong Dance, he has choreographed over a dozen original dance pieces and ensembles. His most recent work since 2015 will be showcased in the 20th Anniversary Celebration Gala event, some of which include “Motherland,” Han folk dance; “A River’s Journey”, Chinese classical dance; “Arirang,” Korean ethnic dance; “Those Youthful Years,” contemporary dance; Mongolian dance ensemble “Prairie;” and Tibetan dance ensemble “Beyond the Horizon.” An excerpt of the timeless “Yellow River Suite”, which was Yao’s first ground-breaking work in 1988, will also be brought onstage.