Gin Dance Company (GDC), an acclaimed Northern Virginia-based contemporary dance company in its thirteenth season, stands at a bittersweet crossroads as it announces the forthcoming retirement of its Artistic Director, Shu-Chen Cuff, from the stage. After an illustrious career spanning 27 years as a professional dancer, Shu-Chen Cuff will gracefully take her final bow in GDC’s mesmerizing production “Insight” on November 11, 2023, at Capital One Hall.
Though Shu-Chen will be leaving her role as a performer, her unwavering commitment to Gin Dance Company will continue unabated as she will continue leading the company in her roles as Artistic Director and Choreographer, positions she’s held since the company’s inception in 2010.
Reflecting on this transition, Shu-Chen Cuff shares, “As a dancer and a performer, I’ve dedicated and worked hard all my life to perfect my performance and give my all on stage. It’s hard to believe it’s really coming to an end… This decision hasn’t been an easy one, but I know it’s time.”
Shu-Chen was born in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, where she established a well-rounded background in dance with training in ballet, modern, Chinese opera movements, and various Chinese folk dances. She immigrated to the United States to continue her training, receiving a B.F.A. from the University of Florida’s New World School of the Arts. Shu-Chen performed numerous classical and contemporary works while dancing with the Miami Ballet and Nevada Ballet Theater. After relocating to the Washington, DC area in 2002, she worked with Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company and then founded Gin Dance in 2010.
Throughout her dance career, Shu-Chen has graced the world’s stages performing in numerous classical and contemporary masterpieces, leaving her footprints throughout Asia, Central America, Europe, and North America through extensive tours. Her performances have been showcased at prestigious Dance Festivals across the nation, as well as at International Dance Festivals in Japan, Malaysia, and Taiwan.
In recognition of her exceptional talent, Shu-Chen has been named a Finalist in the categories of Outstanding Choreographer and Outstanding Individual Performer at the Dance MetroDC Awards. She is a recipient of the prestigious Strauss Artist Grant by the Arts Council of Fairfax County. Gin Dance Company was recently awarded the 2023 Dolly Vogt Community Arts Award from ArtsFairfax and Capital One Hall, a prestigious award acknowledging not only artistic excellence but also facility capacity utilization and programmatic growth.
Gary Cuff, Executive Director of Gin Dance Company and Shu-Chen’s husband, comments, “All of us at GDC are grateful to have witnessed her incredible journey and will forever cherish the memories of her performances. I’ve been to Shu-Chen’s every dress rehearsal and performance, it will be strange not seeing her on the stage but I’m excited to watch her continue to push her artistic boundaries and creative expression as a preeminent choreographer.”
Expressing her deep gratitude, Shu-Chen adds, “I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has supported me throughout my career. From my family, friends, mentors, to my fellow dancers and choreographers, I am truly grateful for your unwavering support. It has been an honor to perform for you all these years, and I will cherish these memories forever.”
GDC’s upcoming production, “Insight,” promises to be a transcendent experience for all attendees. Comprised of three original GDC works, “I Am Here,” “A Cup of Tea,” and “Insight,” this performance is poised to be a heartfelt exploration of personal experiences, dreams, struggles, opportunities, and celebrations with “I Am Here” tied to Shu-Chen’s journey as a first-generation immigrant from Taiwan to the United States. Shu-Chen shares her excitement, stating, “I am really excited about this program and am looking forward to performing ‘I Am Here,’ a piece that delves into my personal experience… I couldn’t decide when to retire… My body is telling me it’s time… I’m glad I will perform this production that is so dear to my heart as my final performance.”
Gary Cuff, Executive Director, adds, “We’re very excited about this production. Each piece tells its own unique story. It’s our hope that the audience will find the performance to be a touching, uplifting, and introspective experience.”
This production is generously supported by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, ArtsFairfax, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
About Gin Dance Company
Gin Dance Company (GDC) is a Metropolitan DC/Northern VA based performing arts modern dance company. GDC was founded both to provide a professional environment for artists to learn, grow, and express themselves and to bring refreshing and vitalizing works of Artistic Director Shu-Chen Cuff to the community. Each of her works uniquely reflects her rich Asian Dance heritage and Eastern philosophy blended with Western fluidity of movement and culture. GDC’s works have been recognized and named finalists at the Dance Metro DC Awards in the categories of Outstanding Choreography and Outstanding Individual Performer. GDC has appeared at the Kennedy Center, The 30th Annual DC Mayor’s Arts Awards at the Lincoln Theatre, the Sidney Harman Hall, the Capital One Hall, the Gelsey Kirkland Arts Center, the Atlas Performing Arts Center, and collaborated with two-time Grammy nominee, David Taylor at the Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center, among others. www.gindance.org