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Photo: Patrick Frenette.

SideBarre

It takes more than pliés to lift a ballet company to great heights. From dancers to conductors, teachers to makeup artists, this series features fascinating insight from ABT experts and an intimate look inside America’s National Ballet Company®. Take a spot at the SideBarre to get to know the incredible people behind each bourrée of American Ballet Theatre.

Posts in: AAPI MonthView All Posts
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AAPI Month
May 24, 2021
During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we are recognizing and celebrating the identities and achievements of ABT’s AAPI artists.

Company Pianist Emily Wong shares her musical talent and reflections on her heritage here on SideBarre.

Emily Wong is an award-winning composer and pianist who has written a large catalogue of works for piano, chamber ensemble, and orchestra. Emily began her professional career as a pianist: she was a First Prize winner of the Hodges International Concerto Competition, the Schubert Competition, and has won numerous other awards as both a soloist and chamber musician. Emily became a pianist for American Ballet Theatre in May of 2009 and has traveled the world with the Company, sharing her artistry with audiences far and wide. In addition to Emily’s role at ABT, she also resides as the Principal Pianist for the Stamford Symphony and the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music.

What is something about your upbringing that you are really proud of?

Growing up in San Francisco, we always talked about being a prime example of “the melting pot” of America.  Everyone co-existed so harmoniously in those days in that city.  I, of course, was a prime human example, being from a mixed-racial family.  I did have a conscious moment in elementary school of realizing I didn’t fit into any of the typical social groups – I wasn’t really like all the other Chinese kids I knew, but I also didn’t look or feel that I was white. Fortunately, I never felt racially singled out, and yet I also felt I didn’t quite belong. And it took me many years to embrace being exactly who I am, and to get comfortable with standing tall in my uniqueness.

Is there something about your culture or heritage that you love or a family tradition that you enjoy celebrating?

To make it even more interesting, my mom was of a Scottish/English blend, but she was an American born in India! She lived there for her first eight years until her father passed and her mom decided to bring her four girls home to the Midwest to be near family. So she had a British/Indian sensibility, with an American identity. She never felt like she totally fit in wherever she was either!  Our Christmas dinners were always amazing Indian feasts – that was our normal!

Please enjoy Emily’s performance of “Summer Moon,” “To A Red Rose,” and “To A Yellow Rose” by Florence Price below!