"These are not bodies so much as sculptures, marble in motion...
...Shen Wei's most intriguing use yet of dance painting."
—Kate Dobbs Ariail, CVNC
ABOUT THE WORK
Limited States premiered in 2011 at the American Dance Festival. The work reflects Shen Wei’s artistic experimentation with video and signifies a new direction in his work.
Shen Wei Dance Arts Shimmers with Variety - Seattle Times
"Shen Wei Dance Arts “Limited States” is unlimited in beauty" - Triangle Arts & Entertainment
"Shen Wei's dancers are a breed apart: lissome, precise, expressive -
and totally at one with a choreographic vision
that makes philosophical reflections into remarkable, affecting dance."
Mary Brennan, The Herald Scotland
"Shen Wei has honoured his travels beautifully with this epic journey through vividly evoked countries,
saturated with a deep spirituality and exquisitely executed.
This is abstract beauty in its purest form."
Lucy Ribchester, The ListABOUT THE WORK
Re- (Part II)
Commissioned by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal (Gradimir Pankov, Artistic Director) and premiered with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal in 2007. U.S. premiere at the American Dance Festival and Lincoln Center Festival in 2009.
This large-scale work combines two of Shen Wei’s trademark choreographic styles, the tableau vivant and what the choreographer refers to as “transference.” The work is inspired by Shen Wei’s study of traditional Cambodian art forms, in situ exploration of Khmer temples, the tangle of banyan trees at Angkor Wat, and Buddhist and Hindu reliefs on the walls of that ancient empire. The score incorporates environmental sounds collected onsite at the abandoned temples scattered throughout the jungle and music played by a local band of musicians disabled by Khmer Rouge atrocities.
"My 2006 visit to Angkor Wat in Cambodia inspired this work. It reflects impressions of the temples and the trees, the sounds of the land, the children, and the culture of that place. I recorded sounds and images from the jungle surrounding the temples for use in this performance, and have chosen traditional music played by local disabled artists, Moon Light Band, who play handmade instruments at the foot of the trees near Angkor Tom."
Re- (Part III)
Celebrating China’s vast and divergent religious traditions, languages, and cultural histories, Re- (Part III) contemplates China’s role as a once and future arbiter of trade, ideas, and populations. Rather than looking back, the work uses the Silk Road as a grand metaphor to explore China’s future at a convergence of cultures from the Middle East, the West, and its own myriad ethnic minorities.
Re- (Part III) is the largest-scale and most dynamic of the three works in Re- Triptych, incorporating imagery, sound, and artifacts from both the old Silk Road and contemporary China. The work’s unique movement vocabulary—virtuosic, vibrant, electrifying—is inspired by this central dialogue between past and future, the individual and the collective, drawing at once on traditional imagery and impressions captured by Shen Wei on the old Silk Road, and on his experience in a radically transformed Beijing while choreographing the 2008 Olympic Opening Ceremonies.
"Shen is on a proselytizing mission.
Even for untrained Western ears, the work is a treat:
spectacular wailing coloratura in the arias, plenty of humor from the secondary characters,
and a breathtaking score that sounds a little bit like an orchestra waging a pitched battle."
—Helen Shaw, The New York Sun
"In 1978, I began studies in Chinese opera (Xian style) at the Hunan State Arts School, and Second Visit to the Empress was one of the first operas we learned to sing. Since 1989, when I ended my career as a Chinese opera performer, it has been one of my dreams to re-envision the form.
"A hybrid creative process allows the vocalists to engage with other performing arts and expand their capacity in movement and interpretation. These performers—rigorously trained in the traditional style—have encountered an entirely different process of storytelling. And since the performance of a Chinese opera score is interpretive—these vocalists and musicians explore variations in meter and phrasing with each performance—our dancers, who are accustomed to Western meter and tonalities, are challenged to understand the jazz-like cadences, textures, and irregularities inherent in the performance of a Chinese opera score. With the cinematography, I have attempted to create a vocabulary parallel to the internal energy, fluctuations, surging tempi, and polyphonic movements of the vocals."
"For Map, Shen designed a blackboard-like backdrop filled with mysterious scrawlings that are slightly faded and smudged. The score is Steve Reich’s stirring The Desert Music for chorus and orchestra, which propels the dancers through a series of what Shen calls ‘movement maps’ that unspool as a brilliant mesmerizing flow if invention. In fact, all Shen’s dancers posses remarkable flexibility and fluidity . . . (moving) with complete abandon toward the discovery of the body’s extraordinary potential."
—Karen Campbell, The Boston Globe
ABOUT THE WORK
Map is set to excerpts from The Desert Music by Steve Reich, consisting of five sections organized in a symmetrical form: ABCBA. Shen Wei divided Map into five separate sections with a similar symmetrical pattern. Each section explores one of a set of concepts including rotation, bouncing, internal isolation, internal circular movement, and internally initiated individual movement for each dancer. Elements from the “Rotation Map” (first movement) return in the fifth movement, "The Map," in a flourishing and expanded form of whirlwind-like energy.
"At Jacob’s Pillow, Shen Wei is moving all over the 'Map'" - The Boston Globe
"‘Map’ leads Shen to Eisenhower" - The Washington Times
"An ingenious synthesis of dance, music and visual art, each element unpredictably linked to another."
—Anna Kisselgoff, The New York Times
"I was so transfixed during this work of contemporary dance that I could hardly bear to blink."
—Pia Catton, The New York Sun
"The visual and emotional impact is overwhelming. [Shen Wei’s] vision is painterly, mathematical and idiosyncratic.
In this eclecticism, movement becomes pure: this Rite of Spring dazzles with its amazing objectivism, its reach beyond ordinary meaning."
The New York Times
"An instant classic."
Kansas City Star
“When I first heard Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring in China in 1989, I was enthralled by the score’s rich, evocative texture. Over the next twelve years, I continued to develop a creative interest in the piece, finally beginning in-depth research on the music in early 2001.
“The Stravinsky score is constructed with both technical complexity and narrative passion. After listening closely to the score, I identified several body systems and movement ideas that matched the quality found in the music. These physical elements formed the basis for movement investigation and construction: together with my dancers, I explored suspension, center-shifting, momentum, spirals, rotations and joint, muscle, and nerve initiations.
“Explorations generated new movement, highlighting the importance of initiating movement with clarity, specificity and integrity. The piece in its final form is a set structure within which there is a balance between movement exactitude and movement intuition. As in unstaged life, alongside that which is definite, there will always exist the coincidental, the uncontrollable, the chance happening."
"The piece has a strangeness in the best sense...
...it reaches beyond Surrealism’s concern for the subconscious."
—Anna Kisselgoff, The New York Times
ABOUT THE WORK
A landscape of gleaming white rectangles forms the scenic background and pathways for this work. The dancers, clothed in velvet gray sheaths, create images that change and coalesce to the multitextured waves of David Lang’s score. The dancers enter slowly, one by one, form pairs and trios, then join together in groups. Like an afterimage or a memory of a place or emotion, Behind Resonance strikingly captures and extends powerful and graceful metaphors of movement.
"In a Sculpture Garden, Beauty as Strangeness" - The New York Times
Near the Terrace received its premiere at the American Dance Festival in 2000 followed by its New York City premiered at the Lincoln Center Festival in 2005. Arvo Pärt's "Für Alina" and "Spiegel im Spiegel" used by arrangement with European American Music Distributors LLC, U.S. and Canadian agent for Universal Edition Vienna, publisher and copyright owner. Near the Terrace was inspired by the work of surrealist Belgian painter Paul Delvaux.
"A Stream Of Images Inspired by Surrealism" - The New York Times
“Overwhelming . . .
If there is something to write home about in the dance world,
it is the startlingly imaginative work of the Chinese-born choreographer Shen Wei.”
THE NEW YORK TIMES
“Movement with a poetic care that most of today’s artists don’t seem capable of generating.
The theatrical dreams of this young artist showcased the remarkable mastery of his interpretative abilities.”
THE GENEVA TRIBUNE
“In 2000, the Guangdong Modern Dance Company invited me to make Folding, my first work with them since I left China in 1995. During this period, I was strongly attached to the simple action of folding: of paper, fabric, flesh—anything.
“Folding combines traditional Tibetan Mahakala Buddhist chants with the ethereal melodies of John Tavener. An enormous (9 x 16–meter) hand-painted backdrop establishes a surreal atmosphere with a rendition of an eighteenth-century Chinese ink painting by Bada Shanren.”
—Shen Wei"Expanding 'The Rite of Spring' by Paring It Down" - The New York Times