Shen Wei Dance Art's Season Includes World Premiere of Solo for Shen Wei and Revival of MAP, Now thru 5/4
When Shen Wei decided to present a season at the Judson Memorial Church, today, April 29-May 4, he faced a problem. This famed lover of the grand scale would not be able to hang his set for "Map" performances, well, not if he wanted his audience seated on all four sides. However, Shen Wei Dance Arts' season, which also features the world premiere of a solo for the choreographer, shows that when there's a will, Shen Wei finds a way.
The solution: Hand-paint "Map's" gigantically gorgeous set onto balloons of differing shapes (triangles, cubes, spheres) and sizes (some as large as 12 feet). Suspended above the dancers, the balloons form a floating jigsaw puzzle, transforming the air above into an aerial installation with its own negative and positive space.
Premiered in 2005, "Map" reveals another surprising side to Shen Wei's often-contemplative imagination. Vigorous and witty, the dance is set to Steve Reich's "The Desert Music." The dance's themes of rotation, bouncing and circularity are explored and re-explored through rapidly changing rhythms and spatial designs. The spinning, circling, and swirling kinetic joy of the performers is palpable.
The fusion of east (the meditative quality of the dancers' inner focus) and west (the energetic originality of his choreography) is also in Shen Wei's paintings, which combine the gentle lyricism of the eastern landscape with the energy of western abstract expressionism. The solo is inspired both by the new explorations he is making in his paintings and the results of his ten-year quest to create a personal dance technique. He used his own body for research. The music for the 10-minute solo is by John Adams and Avro Part.
Choreographer, director, dancer, painter and designer, Shen Wei is internationally renowned for his boldly visual movement-based spectacles. He is perhaps best known as the lead choreographer for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which won acclaim worldwide.
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 World Economic Forum's Young Global Leader Honor; 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 magazine's 2013 Man of the Year Awards; and most recently, the Chinese Innovator Award from the Wall Street Journal-China 2013.
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 1991, at the age of 23, he became a founding member of the Guangdong Modern Dance Company, the first such company in China. In 1995, upon receipt of a fellowship, he moved to NYC to study with the Nikolais/Louis Dance Lab and was invited to present his 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.