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"Ten Times Better" A Captivating Documentary Showcase by Mount Alumnae Jennifer Lin '76 and Cory Steig '10

"Ten Times Better" A Captivating Documentary Showcase by Mount Alumnae Jennifer Lin '76 and Cory Steig '10
(L to R) Raegan Fleming '25, Michelle John '25, and Ramsey Tabor '25, Jennifer Lin '76, and Cory Steig '10

(L to R) Raegan Fleming '25, Michelle John '25, and Ramsey Tabor '25, Jennifer Lin '76, and Cory Steig '10

The Mount welcomed alumnae Jennifer Lin '76 (director) and Cory Steig '10 (producer) to showcase their recent documentary titled Ten Times Better. The film tells the inspiring story of George Lee, who was New York City's first Asian ballet dancer.

As an immigrant, George faced many challenges while trying to prove himself as an Asian pioneer in ballet and on Broadway. This documentary is a testament to his talent, perseverance, and the remarkable stories of people who often go unnoticed. Students Raegan Fleming '25, Michelle John '25, and Ramsey Tabor '25 (pictured with Lin and Steig) led a Q&A session with the filmmakers during an all-school assembly. 

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee of the Board of Directors brought the screening and Jennifer and Cory in as speakers in support of the Academy’s Diversity Club and the Belonging for All Club. It is the Committee’s hope, moving forward, to be able to host at least one activity that engages current students and/or families. 


A Q&A with Ten Times Better Director Jennifer Lin ‘76

What inspired you to make Ten Times Better? 

This film represents lost history. George Lee was an AAPI dance pioneer, yet no one knew his story. With Ten Times Better, I hope we've secured his place in dance history. I'm happy to note that as a result of the film, the New York Public Library's performing arts division asked me to do an oral history with George, which means his story will now be archived in the largest performing arts collection in the country. That's satisfying to know. 

What do you hope MSJA students will take away from the experience of viewing and discussing the film? 

I hope the film generates discussion around representation in the arts. It matters. You can't be what you can't see. Also, I think the pressure George Lee felt to be "ten times better" and prove himself will resonate with many, and not just Asian American dancers. 

What was the hardest part of getting this film made? 

For this film in particular, the hardest part was finding footage of George Lee dancing. You can't make a film about dance without showing dance. I discovered footage of George Lee demonstrating ballet in a 1959 WGBH show called "A Time for Dance." To illustrate his Broadway career, I also found Ed Sullivan Show footage from 1958 of an appearance of the original Flower Drum Song cast. Without those two discoveries, it would have been a different film. 

What was the most rewarding part of making this film? 

The New York Public Library and a group called Works & Process held a special event for us on Feb. 7 to talk about the making of Ten Times Better. More than 200 people packed the auditorium. In the audience were the president and artistic director of the New York City Ballet, and the head of the School of American Ballet. When George walked out on stage, even before he was introduced, everyone spontaneously applauded. The first time I spoke to George in December 2022, he said to me, "Why are you interested in my story? I'm nobody." At that moment, I hope he understood that he was somebody. What I like about filmmaking is its emotional impact. I could have written a story about George Lee but the response is stronger when you can see and hear him on screen.

Is there any aspect of your education at the Mount that led you to this work or down this path? My daughter Cory Stieg '10 and I were laughing that the Mount is kind of like Barbieland. You can do anything and be anyone you want. The only limitations are the ones you set in your mind. Filmmaking was a career pivot for me and I can trace that confidence to try new things to the mindset I developed at an all-girls school like the Mount. Also, I have four sisters, all Mounties (Angela '71; Daria '72; Damien '79; and Stefanie '84), and girl power is part of our DNA.


Click HERE to learn more about Ten Times Better.

 

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