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Saturday, October 29th, 8:00pm

KnJ Theater at Peridance

126 East 13th Street

New York, NY 10003

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Written and Developed by Kamilah Tisdale (bio) & Ho-Shia Aaron Thao (bio)
Choreography by Ho-Shia Aaron Thao (
Costumes by Erica Johnston and Fernanda Yamaguchi
Music by Ezio Bosso and Orchestra Filarmonica ‘900 del teatro Regio di Torino, “Symphony No. 2 ‘Under the Trees Voices’”












Hayley Clark

Barbara Tosto

Bethany Kellner

Juliet Mazzola

Caroline Yamada

Julia Horner,

Tamar Reisner*,

Sarah Roberts, Fernanda Yamaguchi

Fernanda Yamaguchi

Tamar Reisner*

Julia Horner,

Sarah Roberts,

Caroline Yamada

Julia Horner,

Bethany Kellner,

Juliet Mazzola,

Sarah Roberts,

Caroline Yamada,  Fernanda Yamaguchi

*HBT Trainee


SCENE 1 Our ballet opens on Daedalus, a pregnant immigrant, carrying a small suitcase with all of her belongings and hopes for a better life in America. Upon arriving, she encounters a majestic phoenix from which she takes a single feather. Daedalus struggles to find help on the streets and resorts to selling the items of clothing she has in her suitcase. Eventually, one of her embroidered shawls catches the eye of a passerby, Pasiphae. Pasiphae brings her to the Crete, a sweatshop, where several women live and sew together under the management of Minos, the owner's wife. Pasiphae gives Daedalus' shawl to Minos as an example of her handiwork, which Minos keeps for her own. In return for Daedalus’ employment, Minos promises to take care of Daedalus, providing her and her child safety and shelter. SCENE 2 Daedalus’ daughter, Icarus, brings joy to the seamstresses at Crete. While she would rather play, Daedalus pushes Icarus to stay focused on her studies and to achieve more outside the walls of the garment factory. However, instead of having her nose in a book as her mother would prefer, Icarus has dreams of her own. Meanwhile, another seamstress, Ariadne, begs for Daedalus' help to escape from Crete. Daedalus agrees but only if Ariadne agrees to bring a letter to the town's nearest boarding school for Icarus. When Minos finds out it was Daedalus who helped Ariadne escape, she tramples on her shawl and claims she must work twice as hard to repay Ariadne's debt. SCENE 3 When Icarus receives an acceptance letter for a boarding school, the entire garment shop celebrates her news. Now burdened with the cost of tuition, Daedalus devises another plan to sew together scraps from Crete into shawls that will pay for her fees. As a gift and reminder of Daedalus’ dreams, Icarus is given the phoenix’s red feather.  After a failed sale at Crete, a wealthy customer notices the beautiful shawl that Daedalus embroidered hidden behind the garments. When Minos finds out about the sale, she is determined to throw Daedalus out of Crete. Pasiphae intervenes and convinces Minos to promote Daedalus to a designer position instead, but it comes at a cost. SCENE 4 Icarus arrives at the boarding school, but quickly finds she cannot keep up with her classmates. She finds herself unprepared and without support, longing for the familiar. She recalls her mother’s advice and keeps her head in her book. SCENE 5 Icarus dreams of freedom amongst the birds, but is unsuccessful at achieving full flight. Waking up, she is given a notice of her failure from the Headmistress and returns home in shame. Daedalus encourages Icarus to continue studying hard to overcome her challenges. Icarus, realizing her mother will never understand her struggle, returns her mother’s feather and leaves Crete. When faced with the crossroads of returning to school to fulfill her mother’s dream or taking another route, Icarus chooses to follow her own dream.


Excerpts from

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Inspired by interviews from the StoryCorps Archives
Choreography by Ho-Shia Aaron Thao (
Costumes by Erica Johnston and Fernanda Yamaguchi


The ballets in Songs of the Sea explore the common principles of resilience and perseverance through adversity, particularly through the lens of refugees and immigrants seeking safety for their families. “Songs of the Sea'' brings together narratives from various immigrant experiences and celebrates the identity of women as cultural bearers and protectors for displaced communities. A large motif in the collection of works is water and the relationship between bodies of water and women both as a nourishing resource and versatile barrier for many immigrants seeking refuge in a different country. This motif reveals itself in the work through choreography that mimics and responds to the multifaceted attributes of water in its relation to the journey of refugees.

Longing for Home

Music by Federica Alabnese, “Minor Revolt”

Dancer:  Fernanda Yamaguchi


Golden Venture

Music by Julia Kent, “Tourbillon”

Dancers:  Jarred Bosch, Julia Horner, Juliet Mazzola, Caroline Yamada



Music by Velvet Coffee, “Timelapse”

Dancer:  Bethany Kellner


A Pathway to Silence

Music by Karl Thesing, “Torn”

Dancers:  Jarred Bosch, Juliet Mazzola


Lost At Sea

Music by Luca D’Alberto, “Yellow Moon”

Dancers:  Hayley Clark, Barbara Tosto, Fernanda Yamaguchi



Music by Steven Gutheinz, “Sierra”

Dancer:  Jarred Bosch


Songs of the Sea (SOS)/Migrants

Music by Ezio Bosso, “Rain, In Your Black Eyes” and Federico Albanese, “Migrants”

Dancers:  Hayley Clark, Julia Horner, Bethany Kellner, Juliet Mazzola, Sarah Roberts, Barbara Tosto, Caroline Yamada, Fernanda Yamaguchi


Ho-Shia Aaron Thao is the son of Hmong refugees and was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He received his bachelors in Human Biology with a focus on Medical Anthropology from Brown University, and began his dance training in Minneapolis while pursuing a degree in medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Aaron continued his dance training throughout New York City, where he danced professionally with various ballet and theater companies. In 2015, Aaron co-founded a youth ballet program for Westchester County, which would later become known as Hudson Ballet Theatre where he currently serves as Co-President and Artistic Director. In 2016, he curated Voices Transposed:  The Refugee Crisis, a two evening benefit performance showcasing local artists in New York City in collaboration with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. Aaron was featured in the July 2014 issue of Minnesota Medicine and is a recipient of the Fisch Arts Award. His works have been featured at the Cowles Art Center for Performing Arts, Huntington Ballet Theatre, Purchase Conservatory of Dance, and OneJourney Festival in Washington, DC. He is dedicated to honoring the art of storytelling through dance.


Kamilah Tisdale grew up in Southwestern Connecticut. She studied Latin American Studies at Brown University before working with adolescents through Americorp's Community Health Service Corps program. From there she spent time working for the federal government, which led to her transfer to DC where she again connected with adolescents at a youth-centered nonprofit. Kamilah practices capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that incorporates music and expression. She also enjoys writing fiction and learning to garden.

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