About Shen Wei 

Hailed as “one of the great artists of our time” (The Washington Times), choreographer, director, dancer, painter, and designer 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 MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship (2007), the U.S. 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, and a 2012 New York City Center Choreography Fellowship. The impact of Shen Wei Dance Arts' premiere performances on the Chinese mainland in Beijing led to a host of awards for Shen Wei: the Audi-China 2012 Artist of the Year Award, the Artist of the Year at the GQ-China 2013 Man of the Year Awards, and, most recently, the 2013 Chinese Innovator Award from the Wall Street Journal-China.

Born in China’s Hunan province in 1968, the son of Chinese Opera professionals, he was trained from youth in the rigorous practice of Chinese opera performance, 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 to train in modern dance at the American Dance Festival's (ADF) first linkage program at the Guangdong Dance Academy in China. Along with other students from the program, in 1991, he became a founding member of the Guangdong Modern Dance Company, the first modern dance company in China. Upon receipt of a fellowship, he moved to NYC in 1995 to study with the Nikolais/Louis Dance Lab and, in the same year, ADF invited Shen Wei to present his work. In July 2000, he founded Shen Wei Dance Arts (SWDA) at ADF. The Company quickly entered the international touring circuit, performing at premier festivals and venues worldwide.

Since forming his Company, he has received numerous commissions to support his creative works for Shen Wei Dance Arts, including multiple commissions from the American Dance Festival, Het Muziektheater, the Lincoln Center Festival, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Park Avenue Armory, Hong Kong’s New Vision Arts Festival, and the Edinburgh International Festival.

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, who was the lead choreographer for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 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. Last spring, 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. The production, which included Shen Wei Dance Arts’ dancers, premiered in July 2013 and toured to the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia, in September of 2013.

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 which 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, Mana Contemporary, 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, and Asia Society Hong Kong Center.

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. This past fall, 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 large-scale 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).


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