"It is hard to recall anyone else who has responded to the music with such striking, stripped-to-the bone abstraction as Mr. Shen has. This is imagery and conceptualism with a difference….The visual and emotional impact is overwhelming." -The New York Times
Folding & Rite of Spring
The work conjures-up a dream-like, even surreal world, that is at once ancient and timeless. Dancers glide onto the stage space and amass as though suddenly called to partake in an ancient ritual, familiar and yet unknown. A downstage pendulum, barely moving, marks the slow unraveling of time. The costumes (conical headdresses and long red and black robes), white makeup, and glowing white floor, heighten the dance’s sense of mystery and ritual. The work’s large backdrop, painted by Shen Wei, is after an 18th-century Chinese watercolor by Bada Shanren. A seminal work, Folding, is quite simply, a masterpiece.
Rite of Spring
Shen Wei’s ground-breaking Rite of Spring, performed to Fazil Say’s 4-hand piano version of Stravinsky’s score, brings a totally fresh sensibility to this well-known music; the fresh-eye of the outsider. His Rite of Spring jettisons all narrative. There is no sacrifice or primitive society, no contemporary irony; instead, he responds to the score with a rigorous abstraction and formal structuring. It is pure abstraction, but a highly charged and animated abstraction. Shen Wei’s Rite stands out as a singular expression that has won acclaim worldwide.
One of the premier international dance companies, Shen Wei Dance Arts has won worldwide acclaim for “amassing a body of works so strikingly original they defy categorization” (The Boston Globe). The dances Shen Wei makes for his Company draw on influences as varied as traditional Chinese culture and arts, European Surrealism, American high modernism, and the ritual power of ancient drama. Celebrated for its “gorgeous visual imagery” (The London Times), the Company’s dances reflect the compositional rigor of Shen Wei the visual artist—incorporating striking design and imaginative use of space into mesmerizing kinetic stagescapes.