Jacob's Pillow and MASS MoCA to Present Shen Wei Dance Arts, 10/26-27
Jacob's Pillow Dance and MASS MoCA co-present inventive, contemporary ensemble Shen Wei Dance Arts on October 26 and 27 at MASS MoCA's Hunter Center for the Performing Arts.
Led by Chinese-born American choreographer Shen Wei, the New York-based Dance Company blends his signature movement vocabulary with elements of film, theater, new media, and visual art. The program includes Shen Wei's interpretation of Rite of Spring (2003), in honor of the original production's 100th year, and striking new work Collective Measures (2013). The company's performances coincide with the final weekend of MASS MoCA's Xu Bing: Phoenix exhibit, an installation featuring two monumental birds fabricated wholly from materials reaped from construction sites in urban China.
Widely known for the international acclaim he received as principal choreographer for the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Shen Wei is revered for the broad span of his artistic vision as a prolific choreographer; stage director and painter; set, costume, lighting, and make-up designer.The Boston Globe has called his chromatic, movement-based spectacles "a vivid fusion of East and West, of Chinese opera and modern dance informed by the keen eye of a painter..." Born in Hunan, China, Shen Wei began training in Chinese opera at the age of nine. In I99I, he became a founding dancer and choreographer of the Guangdong Modern Dance Company, the first modern Dance Company in China. He was awarded a scholarship from Nikolais-Louis Foundation for Dance and relocated to New York City in 1995. By July 200I, he established Shen Wei Dance Arts with performances of Near the Terrace at the American Dance Festival. Veneration for his talent has netTed Shen Wei many commissions and awards, including a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship, the U.S. Artists Fellow Award, the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Nijinsky Award, Australia's Helpmann Award for Best Ballet or Dance Work, and two accolades from The New York Times for the creation of one of the year's best dance performances.Most recently, he was honored with the Audi 2012 Artist of the Year Award in Beijing, China. Jacob's Pillow Dance presenTed Shen Wei Dance Arts in the Ted Shawn Theatre in 2004 and 2006.
Marking the centenary of the Paris premiere of the original Rite of Spring, Shen Wei Dance Arts will perform its rendition of this seminal work as part of its two-part program. In response to Shen Wei's unique interpretation, Anna Kisselgoff of The New York Times states, "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." Also on the bill is the newly created Collective Measures- Shen Wei's salient exploration of personal separation within physical proximity of others. Meticulously designed, the work surpasses convention and delves into an uncommon, private space through its ambient sound score and surreal visual effects. American fashion designer Austin Scarlett, best known for his appearances on Project Runway's first season and 2012's Project Runway All Stars, designed and fabricated the costumes for this piece in collaboration with Shen Wei.
The gifted dancers of Shen Wei Dance Arts trained at North Carolina School for the Arts, New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, and the Conservatory of Dance at SUNY Purchase. They have also performed with a variety of contemporary dance companies, including recent Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival artists BODYTRAFFIC and Abraham.In.Motion.
Shen Wei Dance Arts is a fitting farewell to Chinese sculptor Xu Bing's storied Phoenix exhibition. Called "glorious" and "stupendous" by The Boston Globe, the more than twenty-ton sculptures have been hanging from the rafters of MASS MoCA's signature, football field-size gallery since December 2012 in their first appearance outside of China. Fabricated entirely from materials harvested from construction sites in Beijing, the mythic birds bear witness to the complex interconnection between art, labor, and capital. Record numbers of museum visitors are mesmerized by "the birds," part of a larger exhibition of key works by Xu Bing, considered among the most important Chinese artists working today. Xu Bing: Phoenix is on view through October 27.
Through the financial support of the Irene Hunter Fund for Dance, Jacob's Pillow Dance and MASS MoCA continue to co-present performing arts programming, a partnership established when the museum was founded in 1999. The Pillow played a pivotal role in establishing MASS MoCA's role as a performing arts presenter and sponsored events at the museum site as early as 1995. In the spirit of deep collaboration, this partnership creates opportunities for visual and performing artists by encouraging cross-disciplinary experimentation; cultivates new dance audiences in the Berkshires by presenting innovative, high-quality performances; and expands the public's understanding of the creative process. Past co-presentations include Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, STREB, MOMIX, DanceBrazil, Stephen Petronio Company, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, Armitage Gone! Dance, Cuba's Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, Chunky Move, and, most recently, Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal.
Performance and Ticket Information: Saturday, October 26 at 8pm and Sunday, October 27 at 3pm; Hunter Center at MASS MoCA. Galleries are open until 7:30pm on Saturday, October 26. On Sunday, October 27, the galleries are open from 11am-5pm. This program contains partial nudity.
Ticket prices: $39 premium / $32 orchestra / $20 mezzanine / $18 students. To order tickets: 413.662.2111 or www.massmoca.org. MASS MoCA is located at 87 Marshall Street, North Adams, MA 01247. For additional information on Jacob's Pillow, visit www.jacobspillow.org.
Jacob's Pillow, which recently concluded its 81st Festival, is a National Historic Landmark, recipient of the National Medal of Arts, and home to America's longest running international dance festival. The Festival includes more than 50 national and international dance companies and 350 free and ticketed performances, talks, tours, classes, exhibits, and events. The School at Jacob's Pillow, one of the most prestigious professional dance training centers in the U.S., encompasses the diverse disciplines of Ballet, Cultural Traditions, Contemporary, and Jazz/Musical Theatre Dance, as well as an Intern Program in various disciplines of arts administration, design, video, and production. The Pillow's extensive Archives, open year-round to the public, chronicle more than 80 years of dance in photographs, programs, books, costumes, audiotapes, and video. Year-round Community Programs enrich the lives of children and adults through public classes, residencies in area schools, and more than 200 free public events. Through Jacob's Pillow Curriculum in Motion, a nationally recognized program, artist-educators work with Berkshire County teachers and students grades K-12, transforming curricula such as biology, literature, and history into kinesthetic and creative learning experiences. Creative Development Residencies, in which dance companies are invited to live and work at the Pillow and enjoy unlimited studio time; choreography commissions; and the annual $25,000 Jacob's Pillow Dance Award all support visionary dance artists and choreographers. Virtual Pillow is aimed at expanding global audiences for dance and offers the opportunity to experience dance and Jacob's Pillow from anywhere in the world via online interactive exhibits, global video networks, and social media. As part of the Virtual Pillow initiative, Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive is a curated online video collection of dance highlights from 1936 to today. On March 2, 2011, President Obama honored Jacob's Pillow with a National Medal of Arts, the highest arts award given by the United States Government. Jacob's Pillow is the first dance presenting organization to receive this prestigious award. For more information, visit www.jacobspillow.org.
MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) is one of the world's liveliest (and largest) centers for making and enjoying the best new art of our time, cross all media: music, art, dance, theater, film, and video. Hundreds of works of visual and performing art have been created on its factory campus during fabrication and rehearsal residencies in North Adams, making MASS MoCA among the most productive sites in the country for the creation and presentation of new art. MASS MoCA strives to bring its audiences art and experiences that are fresh, engaging, and transformative.
MASS MoCA's galleries are open 11am-5pm every day except Tuesdays. Seasonal exhibitions are open from April 15 to November 15. Gallery hours are often extended on evenings featuring performing arts events. Gallery admission is $15 for adults, $10 for students, $5 for children 6-16, and free for children 5 and under. Members are admitted free year-round. For additional information, call 413.662.2111 x1 or visit massmoca.org.
MASS MoCA is an independent 501(c)(3) whose operations and programming are funded primarily through admissions and commercial lease revenue, corporate and foundation grants, and individual philanthropy. Except for a construction grant from the Commonwealth, and competitive program and operations grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, MASS MoCA is privately funded: 90 percent of MASS MoCA's annual operating revenues come from earned revenues, membership support, and private gifts and grants.
The Irene Hunter Fund for Dance was established in 2010 with a gift from the estate of Irene Hunter (1918-2008), to enhance MASS MoCA's capacity to present dance programming of the highest quality, to develop new audiences for dance in the Berkshires, and to encourage continuing collaboration with Jacob's Pillow, deepening the institutional connections that have existed since the museum's inception.