About Shen Wei 

Hailed as “one of the most expansive, creative minds in the arts” (Pia Catton, The New York Sun), choreographer, director, and painter Shen Wei is internationally renowned for the breadth and scope of his artistic vision. Admiration for his talent has earned Shen Wei numerous awards,                        including a 2007 MacArthur “Genius” Award, the US Artists Fellow award, and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. Other accolades include: Australia’s Helpmann Award, the Nijinsky Emerging Choreographer Award, the Algur H. Meadows Prize, Les Étoiles de Ballet Award, Audi-China 2012 Artist of the Year Award, GQ-China 2013 Artist of the Year Award, and the 2013 Chinese Innovator Award from The Wall Street Journal-China. Most recently, he was honored with the Asian Cultural Council’s 2017 John D. Rockefeller 3rd Award.

Born in China’s Hunan province in 1968, the son of Chinese opera professionals, Shen Wei was trained from youth in the rigorous practice of Chinese opera performance and traditional Chinese ink painting and calligraphy and was a performer with the Hunan State Xian Opera Company from 1984 to 1989. During his student years, he studied Western visual art, which propelled an interest in modern dance. In 1989, he began modern dance training at the American Dance Festival’s (ADF) program at the Guangdong Dance Academy in China. In 1991, at the age of 23, he became a founding member of the Guangdong Modern Dance Company, the first such company in China. Upon receipt of a fellowship, he moved to New York City in 1995 to study with the Nikolais/Louis Dance Lab and, in the same year, was invited to create work at the American Dance Festival. In July 2000, he founded Shen Wei Dance Arts (SWDA) and his company quickly entered the international touring circuit.

I want to capture and focus on moments of transference…to reveal the journey of dance-making and art-making, live in each performance.

-Shen Wei

Shen Wei has received 23 commissions from major presenting institutions to support his creative work, including multiple commissions from the American Dance Festival, Het Muziektheater, Lincoln Center Festival, and the Kennedy Center, as well as from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Park Avenue Armory, Hong Kong’s New Vision Arts Festival, Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, Edinburgh International Festival, and, most recently, BAM and the Performing Arts Center at Purchase College.

The lead choreographer for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Shen Wei has also created dances for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal and Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, and choreographed the Rome Opera’s production of Rossini’s Moise et Pharaon, conducted by Ricardo Muti. In 2013, Shen Wei was commissioned to create a new work for the Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam, and he choreographed, directed, and designed a new production of Carmina Burana for the chorus, orchestra, and ballet of Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, Italy, with his company performing in leading roles.

Recently, his work as a visual artist and choreographer has entered into a new dialogue in a series of performative installations and site-specific works that have been presented at a number of museums and galleries including: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, North Carolina Museum of Art, Collezione Maramotti in Italy, the Forum at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Rockbund Museum of Art in Shanghai, MDC Museum of Art + Design in Miami, Guggenheim Museum, Asia Society Hong Kong Center, and the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum.

As a painter, Shen Wei has had solo exhibitions in leading galleries and museums: Chambers Fine Art Gallery (New York), Crow Collection of Asian Art (Dallas), Hong Kong Cultural Center, and Tucson Museum of Art. In the fall of 2015, he participated in a group show at London’s Fine Art Society: Performance & Remnant. Shen Wei’s recent large-scale painting series have received significant acclaim in the art world. Shen Wei: In Black, White and Gray, a solo exhibition featuring 11 of his paintings, was shown at the MDC Museum of Art + Design during Art Basel/Miami Beach (December 2014). Shen Wei: Dance Strokes, an exhibition of Shen’s paintings with site-specific performances, opened at Asia Society Hong Kong Center during Art Basel/Hong Kong (March 2016). A solo exhibition of his paintings will be presented in Shanghai at the Power Station of Art, China’s first contemporary art museum, in the fall of 2018.



Select Awards and Commissions

  • Teatro di San Carlo, Naples, Italy
  • Het Nationale Ballet, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • New Vision Arts Festival, Hong Kong, China 
  • Park Avenue Armory, New York, USA
  • Edinburgh International Festival, Scotland
  • Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, Monaco
  • 2008 Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremonies, Beijing, China
  • Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, Montréal, Canada
  • The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, D.C., USA
  • Het-Muziektheater, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2)
  • American Dance Festival, North Carolina, USA (12)
  • Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, California, USA
  • Lincoln Center Festival, New York, USA (2)
  • New York City Opera, New York, USA
  • Guangdong Modern Dance Company, Guangzhou, China