Neither (2016) 

Concept, Choreography, Set and Costume Design: Shen Wei

Music: Neither by Morton Feldman

Libretto: Samuel Beckett

Lighting Design: Jennifer Tipton

Projection Design: Rocco DiSanti

Running Time: 60 minutes

Commissioned by BAM and co-commissioned by the Performing Arts Center at Purchase College

In Neither, Shen Wei suggestively reflects on Morton Feldman and Samuel Beckett’s 1977 anti-opera of the same name. In tackling this singular score, with its sphinx-like 16-line libretto by Samuel Beckett, Shen sought not only to respond to Beckett and Feldman’s aural and poetic landscape but to add another poetic and philosophic layer of possibility to their exquisite, piercing lament. Shen immerses 11 dancers into massive and luminous sets of his own design, exquisitely illuminated by Jennifer Tipton. Here, bodies flare, sharply and urgently, then settle together into intricate tableaux, oscillating—like Beckett’s libretto—in the gaps between light and shadow, departure and perpetual return.


“The dancers implode, swirl into a gorgeous knot on the floor, and array themselves in tight lines that swell and shrink like an accordion. They move in unison, in canon and in a beautiful chaos.”
Apollinaire Scherr, The Financial Times

“Entering any Shen Wei work involves embracing some edge of dream state, a liminal spot at the edge of consciousness. He inhabits quiet, internal mindscapes, in worlds of continuous motion—that space is where Neither lives…The dreamscape of Shen Wei’s work is mesmerizing. We lose ourselves in the dancers’ unending, loose-limbed patterns.”
Martha Sherman, Dance View Times

Neither, as premiered at BAM, offers an experience that stretches the imagination, and tantalizes one with a series of enigmas….The choreography astonishingly evolves with the dramatic turns of Feldman’s ‘anti-opera’... Shen Wei’s design talents gush throughout this hour long work.”
Deirdre Towers, Eye on Dance

“Mr. Shen’s characteristically slinky movement, which makes luscious use of the floor as an extension of the body, captures the mystery and sense of suspension in [Beckett’s] lines.”
Siobhan Burke, The New York Times

“Shen Wei has a keen eye for spatial density onstage, and the entrances and exits through nine virtually invisible archways in the stark, white-walled set keep the hour-long work visually fascinating…[Neither] resonates with the expressive power of Martha Graham’s early dances for her women’s company and the abstractly suggestive work of Alwin Nikolai or the deeply politically inspired expression of works by Helen Tamiris or Sophie Maslow. Shen Wei’s unique blend of visual and kinetic art has captivating expressive impact.”
Gus Solomons, Solomons Says