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Shen Wei Dance Arts - The Rite of Spring and Folding

by Robert Abrams
July 25, 2003
Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
140 West 65th Street
New York, NY 10023
212.875.5456

Shen Wei - The Rite of Spring and Folding

Robert Abrams
July 25, 2003

Shen Wei presented two ethereal and otherworldly pure dance works tonight.

In The Rite of Spring, the stage is like an abstract map of a landscape obscured by weather patterns. Crossing lines on the floor suggested latitude and longitude on a map, while swirls on the floor suggested weather systems. The dancers slowly present to this stage one at a time. With a controlled walk, they moved to their places. Next, there was an eruption of dignified scurrying, followed by a ground section with more aggressive movements. Sometimes the dancers reached upwards like grass growing. Sometimes they showed off standing vertical jumps. The choreography made use of ever changing patterns. For instance, sometimes the dancers would enter the stage by moving to a specific spot, dance a solo and move on, at which point the next dancer would enter and do a solo at the same spot. Sometimes the dancers moved in lines, with the same rigid walk as in the beginning, but this time with more structured geometries. The dancers came to rest in an outward facing circle, echoing the inward facing circle at the start of the dance.

The music was played by one live piano and one recorded piano. The music was both discrete and continuous.

Choreography and design by Shen Wei. Composer: Igor Stravinsky. Pianist: Fazil Say. Costume and Set design: Shen Wei. Lighting design and technical direction: David Ferri. Performers: Brooke M. Broussard, Jessica Harris, Kennis Hawkins, James Healey, Alexa Kershner, Tony Orrico, Sara Procopio, Kana Sato, Vicki Skinner, Shen Wei, Hou Ying, Jesse Zaritt, Nian-Nian Zhou.

In Folding, the dancers were wearing tall headdresses that made them look like an alien race one might find on a science fiction show. Their slow, stylized motions added to this impression. I got the impression of some great bureaucracy churning about its business. The dancers had very active feet, but still upper bodies. They moved onto and off of the stage in regular cycles. Between their motions and the sound effects, it suggested scurrying officials against a backdrop of hubbub.

The dance used stark colors. Some dancers were dressed in red and some in black. The black dressed dancers were often doubled up so that they seemed very tall, and sometimes formed compound people. The way the dancers carried each other across the stage created many interesting shapes. One dancer seemed a little out of place in a black body suit. Kind of like a diver might seem out of place in a world of fish. There were a group of red dressed dancers who seemed to be uncurling like a fern, or an undersea animal that looks like a plant. Near the end, the red dressed dancers ascend the rear of the stage into darkness while the black dressed dancers circle around, echoing the beginning.

The company came out for the their bows using very slow movements and presented some of the most artistic bows I have seen. This was in keeping with the style of the dance. The bows were received with very raucous applause from the audience.

Choreography and design: Shen Wei. Music: John Tavener and Tibetan Buddhist Chant. Music Editor: Kung Chi-Shing. Lighting: David Ferri. Costume, set and makeup design: Shen Wei. Performers: Brook M. Broussard, Jessica Harris, Kennis Hawkins, James Healey, Alexa Kershner, Tony Orrico, Sara Procopio, Kana Sato, Vicki Skinner, Shen Wei, Hou Ying, Jesse Zaritt, Nian-Nian Zhou.



Shen Wei Dance Arts, "The Rite of Spring," Lincoln Center Festival 2003, July 23, 25, 27 at 8 p.m., LaGuardia Concert Hall
Photo courtesy of Bruce R. Feeley



Shen Wei Dance Arts, "Folding" Lincoln Center Festival 2003, July 23, 25, 26 at 8 p.m., LaGuardia Concert Hall
Photo courtesy of Zen Qian

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