Ten Times Better premieres at Lincoln Center

Wednesday, January, 24, 2004.

Pictured Above: The Film Poster for “Ten Times Better,” is directed by Bucks County, PA documentarian, Jennifer Lin.  Photo Credit: Contributed.

Newsroom Post: NEW YORK, NEW YORK

NY Public Library’s Works & Process series and Dance on Camera Festival spotlights documentary

New York, NY – Ten Times Better, a documentary about the astounding untold story of George Lee, a pioneering Asian dancer who originated a role in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker 70 years ago, will have its world premiere Feb. 10 at the Dance on Camera Festival presented by Film at Lincoln Center.

Lee, an 88-year-old blackjack dealer who still works five days a week in Las Vegas, will return to New York for the screening, as well as a panel discussion for the Works & Process series at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

The Works & Process free event will be on Wed., Feb. 7, at 6 p.m. at the NYPL’s Bruno Walter Auditorium, 111 Amsterdam Ave. at West 65th St. Producer Cory Stieg will lead a discussion about the making of the film with Lee, documentary director Jennifer Lin and archivist Arlene Yu.

Pictured Above: L-R: Filming shows Producer Jon Funabiki, director Jennifer Lin, George Lee and director of photography Paul Van Haute.   Photo Credit: Contributed.

Ten Times Better, a 30-minute film, will screen on Sat., Feb. 10, at 6 p.m. at the Film Center’s Francesca Beale Theater, 144 W. 65th St. Tickets for the screening can be purchased at the Film at Lincoln Center website. The premiere is part of the Dance on Camera Festival, the longest-running dance film festival.

Lee’s place as an AAPI dance pioneer has gone unnoticed until now. After seeing photos of him from the 1954 premiere of Balanchine’s The Nutcracker for the New York City Ballet, Lin tracked him down in Las Vegas, where he’d been working as a blackjack dealer for 40 years at the Four Queens Casino.

Pictured Above: George Lee.  Photo Credit: Courtesy of the estate of Frederick Melton.

Lee, whose father was Chinese, was raised in Shanghai by a single mother, a Polish ballerina who trained him in classical ballet. After two years in a refugee camp in the Philippines, Lee resettled in Manhattan in 1951, earned a scholarship to the School of American Ballet and caught the eye of Balanchine. Lee was just 18 when the choreographer cast him in the “Tea” divertissement. His remarkable leaping ability and control earned Lee praise from critics and fellow dancers.

Pictured Above: George Lee, current day.  Photo Credit: Contributed.

After The Nutcracker, Lee was passed over for the NYCB (“Too short,” he was told), and turned to Broadway, where Gene Kelly tapped him for the original cast of Flower Drum Song. Lee went on to a 25-year career on stage, working with Carol Channing and Debbie Reynolds, among others.

“We hope Ten Times Better secures George Lee’s rightful place in dance history and American culture,” says producer Jon Funabiki. “His experience will resonate with many other Asian and Pacific Islander artists who were passed over or forgotten despite their unquestioned talent and grit.”

Ten Times Better is a presentation of the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Photos are available upon request.

Ten Times Better is a presentation of the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Photos are available upon request.

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