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Dancer Jesselito Bie on creating a fantasia of Asian Americana

Lynne Fried


When Jesselito Bie co-founded Steamroller Dance Company over 20 years ago, he wanted to create performances to address the spread of HIV/AIDS. Since then, Steamroller has performed all over the Bay Area, addressing experiences of marginalized people through dance.

This year, the company is performing Siamese Dream, a dance production that combines the Hollywood glamor of the musical The King & I with the physicality of kung fu movies to create a critical fantasia of Asian Americana.


Bie sat down for a conversation with KALW’s Jen Chien about the past and present of his work. And a note: Jen has been a dancer with Steamroller in the past.

BIE: Is this a queer company? Is this an Asian American company? Right now, it’s a melding of the two, which is so satisfying to me—it's like, 'oh FINALLY!'

Siamese Dream will be at the San Francisco International Arts Festival this weekend, Thursday—Sunday, May 28th, 2017.

Jen Chien was the managing editor for Crosscurrents and KALW News from 2016 to 2018. She has been a contributor to All Things Considered, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, BBC/PRI’s The World, Making Contact, SF Public Press, East Bay Express, New America Media, and KPFA in Berkeley, where she took part in the First Voice Apprenticeship Program. She is the recipient of the 2013 Outstanding Emerging Journalist Award from the Society of Professional Journalists of Northern California. She holds a BA in American Studies from Smith College, and an MA in Interdisciplinary Performance from New College of California. Before entering the field of journalism, she had a successful career as a professional dance and theater artist, teacher, and massage therapist.