Linda Kuo & Dancers Unlimited

Grantee of Brooklyn Arts Fund

Project Profile: Edible Tales

Image Dancers Unlimited members at Waikalua fishpond in Hawai’i. Photo credit: Jordan Medeiros

Brooklyn Arts Council announced in March 2022 an allocation of over $1.3 million to 238 Brooklyn-based artists and cultural organizations. This year marks the highest number of grantees and awardees as well as the largest amount of funding BAC has ever distributed. Art Spiel in collaboration with Brooklyn Arts Council features some artists who received a Brooklyn Arts FundLocal Arts Support, and/or Creative Equations Fund grant in 2022.

Edible Tales is a multimedia dance installation exploring cultural heritage, social justice and sustainability. Using food-related topics and interactive performances, the project centers community engagement as a key part of our creative process to preset urgent and relevant works. Edible Tales started in 2020 as our response to the global pandemic. Dancing virtually became our vehicle of healing and connecting. In search of comfort, the discussions shifted toward home-cooked meals and food memories, while many dancers in our communities in both NYC and Hawaii faced the new reality of unemployment and food scarcity. Edible Tales is a safe space to connect and explore food-related topics, including food apartheid, environmental sustainability, cultural heritage, healing and intergenerational dialogues. Some notable support of the project includes the Sharp Grant from Hawai’i Council for the Humanities and National Endowment For the Humanities, Brooklyn Arts Council, and Lower Manhattan Arts Council.

Dancers Unlimited (DU) is a bi-coastal 501(c)3 company based in Brooklyn, NY and Honolulu, HI. The company creates authentic moveMEANT narratives for community advancement through creative collaborations, public programs and social justice work.

Established in 2009 as a free youth dance programs on Furlough Fridays, when the Hawai’i DOE cancelled school due to budget cuts, DU has now grown into two companies that create simultaneously in NYC and Hawai’i.The company is directed by the co-founder Linda Kuo, a Taiwanese immigrant whose family settled in Hawai’i when she was a child. Linda’s multicultural upbringing in Hawai’i has been impactful toward her belief of dance as a tool for cultural identity and resilience. Her approach toward dance is rooted in storytelling from and for the people.

Tell me about your project and how it fits within your overall practice.

Edible Tales is a combination of live performances, dance films and documentary interviews that explore cultural heritage, social justice, and sustainability through food-relates topics. In a time of separation, Edible Tales brings communities together at our MoveMEANT sessions through food- a shared point of passion and excitement for all cultures. The project reflects our current creative process and focus because it provides a nurturing space for collective healing and individual awakening as we navigate through a global pandemic and work towards social justice.

The food systems represent an intricate web of systemic challenges and injustice as well as cultural importance. Through community-centered dialogues and open rehearsals, the dancers and artists engage in food-based conversations and create meaningful movement stories to embody discussions on food sovereignty, cultural heritage, immigrant experiences, food apartheid, social justice, and healing.

This project has led to discussions of other food related topics like the challenges of food in climate change, plastic pollution in food packaging, and farm-to-table as social justice ideas. Through consultation with agriculture and food chain professionals, we have incorporated new artist engagement activities like creating upcycled costumes from food packaging and takeout containers. 

Our goal is to use food to create inclusive and diverse conversations that show our similarities and embrace cultural diversity. The project uses dance and food as catalysts for change and healing toward personal wellness and collective justice. 

The final presentation of the project includes a live dance performance and celebration as well as a documentary film that includes dance choreography and conversations in our kitchens, neighborhoods and community organizations. The documentary film is an important step for virtual access and interaction. The film will be available through our website and on Vimeo for free.

Image Photo from Edible Tales: Prayers. Photo credit: Jordan Medeiros