Ten Times Better Film

Oakland Ballet presents a screening of the documentary of

Ten Times Better

The story of pioneering Asian dancer, George Lee

Directed by Jennifer Lin | Produced by Jon Funabiki

Sunday, September 29th | 1:00pm

Oakland Asian Cultural Center | Pacific Renaissance Plaza

388 9th St Ste 290, Oakland, CA 94607

This event includes:

1:00- 2:30pm Lunch at Peony Restaurant next door to Oakland Asian Cultural Center

2:30pm – Short excerpt from Oakland Ballet Company’s Angel Island Project followed by the screening of Ten Times Better and a panel discussion plus Q&A about the film and AAPI representation in ballet

Click Here to Learn More About the Film

Man leaping over the words Ten Times Better

 About the Film

Ten Times Better is a short documentary about George Lee, an 89-year-old blackjack dealer who still works five days a week. He’s a familiar and beloved figure in the pit of the Four Queens Hotel & Casino in downtown Las Vegas.

But none of those card players knows his astonishing story or his place in ballet history. A child dance prodigy who grew up poor in Shanghai.
A refugee fleeing war. And as a teenager in New York, George was selected by George Balanchine to dance in his staging of The Nutcracker exactly 70 years ago. 

George Lee Headshot
Audiences viewing a ballet performance where the dancer is jumping.

Performing the “Tea” divertissement, he was a sensation. It’s a uniquely American story: an immigrant striving to prove himself. An Asian pioneer in ballet and on Broadway. A dancer whose artistry was recognized by no less than Balanchine and Gene Kelly, who cast him in the original production of Flower Drum Song. He danced on stage for 25 years before switching careers. His story comes to life via archival footage, personal photos, news accounts—including a spread in Life magazine—as well as
contemporary interviews with George and footage of him working at the Four Queens Hotel & Casino.

The only known footage of George dancing is included in the film — a 1958 WGBH television show called “A Time to Dance,” and the Flower Drum Song cast’s appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. The film is a tale of talent and perseverance in the face of hardship, and a reminder of the extraordinary stories behind the nameless
faces all around us. 

Jennifer Lin sitting with George Lee while a photographer stands behind with camera.

 Creative Team

Producers sit and pose with George Lee

Director/Producer

JENNIFER LIN

worked more than 30 years as a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, including postings in New York, Washington, D.C., and Beijing. Her film Beethoven in Beijing, a documentary feature about the Philadelphia Orchestra’s legacy in China, premiered nationally on PBS’s Great Performances in 2021. She is the author of Shanghai Faithful (2017), a family memoir, and Beethoven in Beijing, an oral history that grew out of the film.

Producer

JON FUNABIKI

advocates for media equity following a career spanning journalism, teaching and philanthropy. After covering Asia for The San Diego Union, Jon worked for The Ford Foundation and was a professor of journalism at San Francisco State University.

Producer

CORI STIEG

studied dance at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Currently a marketing manager, she has written extensively about dance for such publications as Dance Mgazine, Dance Teacher, and Pointe Magazine.